Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Updated qualification portfolio

I updated the summary of vocational Computing qualifications to include the latest developments (such as the PDA in Online Child Protection).

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

iPhone Application Development

As part of DIVA refresh we are looking at new ways in which Colleges can engage with schools and industry.

If your College is currently doing any work around i-phone application development please e-mail

Monday, 25 January 2010

PC Passport -- versions!

I received a call from a teacher on Friday about the various versions of PC Passport in existence. He wasn't sure which support materials to use.

PC Passport was originally introduced in 2003. It underwent a refresh in 2007 and this is the current version. So, the current awards are:
  • G8H7 44 PC Passport (SCQF 4)
  • G8H9 45 PC Passport (SCQF 5)
  • G8HA 46 PC Passport (SCQF 6)
Although the original group awards were withdrawn, the original units were retained since a lot of centres wanted to continue to offer these units.

As a result of feedback from centres, which were using the refreshed awards, we commenced a minor revision of units and assessments in 2009. These are no more than tweaks to correct a number of ambiguities or small errors. However, it will mean that tweaked units and assessments will be published later this year (before summer).

Both the old and the new units have existing assessments, which are available via SQA Secure (contact your SQA Co-ordinator).

You can find out more about PC Passport here. Or call Hilary (0845-213-5130) if you want to talk to someone.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

NPA Computer Games Development

There was a meeting of the Qualification Development Team (QDT) for the new NPAs in Computer Games today. It was a full-day meeting because we had a lot to go through.

I was approached by Julie McLaren of Forrester High School in late-April of last year. Julie wanted to develop a new non-advanced qualification in computer games for her pupils and wanted my opinion of her proposed qualification, which was a single award based on existing units. Since that time, the development has grown arms and legs, and now spans three levels (SCQF 4, 5 and 6) and comprises nine new units.

The reason for the project growing so much was due to the huge amount of interest in this area. Our original quick-and-simple qualification attracted a great deal of feedback and the overwhelming majority of people wanted us to be more adventurous and design new units that matched the current games industry. So we did. And we now have a much larger development, still led by Julie who has since moved to Madras College.

The downside is that the qualifications will take longer to produce. Their estimated availability is now May of this year. The up-side is that the qualifications are purpose-built for computer games, their contents more up-to-date, and spanning several levels. The QDT preferred to slow down and get things right rather than rush things. For example, all three qualifications have identical structures and are differentiated by PC and assessment (a "hierarchy" in SQA-speak), which makes teaching across levels much easier.

We are hoping to have all of the units written by the end of February and the validation event carried out in early April. Contact Hilary if you want to be involved in the validation panel. Contact Julie for more information about this development.

This project, combined with the HNC/D Computer Games development, will result in games-based qualifications at SCQF Levels 4-8, all of which should be available to centres by late Spring.

Monday, 18 January 2010

PDA in Applications of ICT in Libraries at SCQF Level 7 & 8

We recently validated the new PDA in Applications of ICT in Libraries at SCQF Level 8 (G9LE 48) and have been busy working on finalising the arrangements document and internal processing of the award to make it live on our systems.

As I had previously blogged, in addition to this, we have also added new HN Units in Digital Culture to the optional section of the PDA in Applications of ICT in libraries at SCQF Level 7 (G8PX 47).

The Arrangements document for both awards can be found by clicking here.

These two awards replace the following:

G7WW 16 Diploma in Applications of ICT in Libraries (end date 31.07.2010)
G7WV 18 Advanced Diploma in Applications of ICT in Libraries (end date 31.07.2011)

Please note that if you currently have candidates registered on the Diploma or Advanced Diploma then certification has to be completed by the end dates listed above.

Friday, 15 January 2010

HNC/D Computer Games Development

Me and Caroline met with the lead developer for the HNC/D Computer Games project today. Nigel Kennington, of Telford College, is leading this work.

It was really a review meeting, to consider how things were progressing. We had originally hoped to have these qualifications (we are developing an HNC and an HND) validated this month (January 2010) but things have slipped a little. It now looks like the validation event will take place in March.

The draft framework has been available since October, and Nigel has received a lot of feedback on the proposed structure, and also had discussions with various interested parties (such as SkillSet and E-Skills). There have also been specialist workshops and a couple of surveys -- so the consultation has been extensive.

We now looking at validating the HNC/D on Friday, 12 March. This may change, depending on who can make this date, but it will be around this date. We are looking for a college representative for the validation panel so please contact Caroline if you are interested in contributing to the validation process.

Contact Nigel if you want to know more about this development.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

What's coming in 2010

A number of developments should reach fruition early in 2010 (or, at least, first half of the year). These include:
  • NPAs in Computer Games (at SCQF Levels 4/5/6)
  • HNC/D Computer Games Development
  • PDA in Child Online Protection
  • SVQs in IT Professional
  • new units relating to FITS
  • improved PC Passport units and assessments.
We will also commence some new developments including:
  • review of HNC/D Computer Networking
  • review of HNC/D Computing
  • new vendor linked awards.
We also plan to work with centres to improve assessment within vocational Computing qualifications. Let us know through the comment facility if you think we should be doing anything else (or not doing any of these things).

So, it's going to be a busy year. You can help us carry out these tasks (and get paid for the privelege!) by joining the SQA Groupsite.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

HN Digital Culture Units - SCQF Levels 6, 7 & 8

The following HN Units in Digital Culture are now live and available for download from the SQA website:

F86T 33 Digital Culture: Web 2.0 Applications (SCQF Level 6)
F86P 34 Digital Culture: Online Communication (SCQF Level 7)
F86V 35 Digital Culture: Online Collaboration (SCQF Level 8)

Two of the Units (F86T 33 & F86P 34) now form part of the optional section of the Group Award G8PX 47 PDA in Applications of ICT in Libraries at SCQF Level 7.

The standalone Units will be added to the optional sections of various HN awards within the Computing portfolio over the next week or so.

There are also two National Units developed in the area of Digital Culture at SCQF Levels 4 & 5. Hilary Weir will be able to provide further information on these.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Follow us in 2010

SQA re-started today. Caroline and me made it back, but Hilary fell on the ice during the holiday and broke her wrist, and I'm not sure when she will make it back.

I hope you choose to follow us during 2010. This can be done in a number of ways. This blog is the best way to keep up-to-date with developments. So either bookmark this page or add the feed to your newsreader (I use Google Reader). Most modern phones have a newsreader of some kind and that's a great way of reading this blog. You can also follow us on Twitter. If you subscribe to our Twitter feed you will get more regular, but smaller, updates.

We set up a new online service last year for people who want to work with SQA. It's proven to be very popular, with over 100 people subscribed already. In the coming year we will use this group to let you know how you can get involved in the work of SQA in any one of a number of roles. So, if you haven't already, please join this group if you want to get involved in curriculum development in the vocational Computing area.

In my last update letter, I wrote that that would be my last routine letter to centres, and that I would use this blog to disseminate information in future. This blog is six years old this year and it's time that it became a key part of how me and my team communicate with you.

Of course, you can continue to contact us directly. Our e-mail addresses and telephone numbers are on the team organisation chart, which you can download here.

The team here in SQA hope you have a good 2010.