Monday, 31 May 2010

Moving from Yahoo to Twitter

Many of you subscribe to an online mailing list called "sqacomputing", which is hosted by Yahoo. In its heyday it had over 600 members but the membership has been in steady decline. It's an announcement-only group (you can't reply) and it's the only Yahoogroup that we still use.

A few months ago the SQA team started to experiment with Twitter, and this has quickly gained a large following, with 110 "followers". Twitter provides a similar service to Yahoogroups but is more up-to-date and more flexible (there are Twitter clients for PCs, tablets, and mobile phones).

It seems sensible to merge these services so I propose to end the Yahoogroup and encourage subscribers to migrate to Twitter. Our Twitter page is:

I'll unsubscribe members of the Yahoo group in a few weeks, once everyone has had time to move over to Twitter. If you chose to follow us on Twitter, we promise not to drown you in updates. You can see the sort of thing we publish on the box on the right.

Friday, 28 May 2010

E-learning materials

I got an enquiry this morning about the location of the e-learning materials that can be used to support various IT-related HN units. Previously this had been hosted on a private website but this has been brought in-house and is now hosted on the SQA website.

It's a fantastic resource. All of the HNCs in my portfolio (such as HNC Computing and HNC IT) are covered by this material, and some HNDs (such as HND Computing) have the majority of their units covered. Centres use this material in lots of ways. The most common is to provide additional support to learners who, perhaps, need a little extra help. We're contantly adding to this resource so let us know if there are particular units that you would like to include.

Although most of the e-learning materials relate to HN (thanks to EU funding), we also have some online learning material for non-advanced awards. For example, our Internet Safety unit can be done on the telephone.

Contact Caroline for more information about HN support materials and contact Hilary for NC support materials.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

NPA Games validation event

The validation event for the new NPAs in Computer Games Development (at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6) was held today at Jury's Inn in Glasgow. The Validation Panel was convened by Nigel Kennington, of Telford College, who was on the other side of the table not so long ago.

The outcome was that the award was validated with conditions (or, more accurately, "not validated until conditions are met"). There were three conditions and a couple of recommendations. But nothing that will take very long to fix.

So we were delighted with the outcome. We hope to address the conditions by the end of June and have the awards available to centres by July. The unit specifications will be on the SQA website by the end of June. The next stage is to develop assessment material for the awards, which we will commence over the summer.

There has been a lot of interest in this development and I think that several centres will want to use them immediately.

These NPAs compliment the recently validated HNC/D awards. The final piece in the jigsaw will be the NC development, which is being led by Forth Valley College.

Please contact Hilary if you want to know more about these NPAs; contact Caroline about the HN awards; and Fiona about the proposed NC.

My thanks to everyone who has been involved in this project, especially the lead developer, Julie McLaren of Madras College, and the convenor of the panel (Nigel).

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Links with Cisco

Caroline and me visited Central College this morning to meet with Chris Deegan and Ian Lennie to discuss the links between the HNC/D Networking awards and the Cisco curriculum. Cisco's CCNA programme changed some time ago, breaking the mapping between that and our HNC/D Networking qualifications.

Our interim advice was for centres to create their own credit transfer arrangements until we had a chance to review the Networking awards, which was scheduled for 2010. But that review is now entwined with the HNC/D Computing review so it might take longer than planned.

I agreed to take forward the Cisco mapping separately from the HN review. Although this would involve changing units before the review is underway, we felt it was certain that the review would want to continue with the strong links with vendors. So I plan to convene a small review team to look at the HN units that link with CCNA. These units (four at present) will be updated to reflect the latest vendor curriculums.

We haven't agreed a date for this initial meeting but please contact Caroline if you want to be involved.

New basic skills unit?

I received an enquiry today asking for an introductory unit that delivered basic ICT skills covering such things as computer skills, Internet skills and learning skills. When I checked through the units available, there were units on each of these areas but few that covered more than one of them, and none that covered them all. That made me think that it might be a good idea to create a 21st Century version of Introduction to Computers, which some of you may remember from the 1990s as the most popular unit in SQA's catelogue.

I had a discussion with the enquirer and the following list of skills emerged:
  • basic hardware skills (such as formatting a memory card)
  • basic software skills (such as copying data)
  • basic Internet skills (such as searching)
  • basic safety skills (such as preventing online fraud)
  • basic learning skills (such as researching online)
  • basic information literacy skills (such as checking sources)
  • basic social networking skills (such as protecting privacy).
What do you think? I've created a poll to gauge your views. Is this list of skills on the right lines?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Review of HNC/D Computing and Networking

We had an initial meeting this afternoon about the proposed review of HNC/D Computing and HNC/D Networking. These awards are scheduled to be reviewed this year and it has been suggested that they should be reviewed as a single package rather than separately.

Representatives of four centres attended the meeting to discuss the options for change that we will present to a public meeting early next month. We considered various options such as:
  • the status quo: continuing with the current separate HNC/D awards
  • three separate streams: separate HNC/D awards in Software Development, Technical Support, and Networking
  • single award: creating a single HNC/D award that covers all of the knowledge and skills
  • common HNC: a common HNC award leading to separate HND awards.
The importance of links with vendor awards was emphasised. So was the level of difficulty of the current awards, the assessment demands, and the role of core skills.

These issues, and others, will be discussed at the open meeting on 4 June. The intention is to arrive at a consensus on the way forward so that we can get down to developing the new award(s). Don't forget to come along if you want to participate.

Transforming assessment project

A group of Australian universities, led by Adelaide University, has been commissioned by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council to explore ways of modernising assessment practice. More about the project here.

The project includes a series of online seminars ("webinars") about assessment-related issues, the first of which took place last week and is available online. Professor Crisp's talk is a good summary of the issues facing assessment and is worth a listen. It can be dowloaded here or watched online via YouTube. The next event takes place on 26 May.

The whole world faces the same sort of issues with respect to assessment so these discussions are very relevant to Scottish colleges.

Monday, 17 May 2010

NC Computer Games Development

Some time ago, I mentioned that Forth Valley College was leading the development of a new National Certificate (NC) award in Computer Games Development at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.

Fiona Jackson is currently forming a Qualification Development Team to progress this work, and is looking for volunteers to join this team. So please contact Fiona if you are interested. The first meeting of the QDT is pencilled-in for 9 June.

Although I will keep centres posted via this blog about progress, this is not an SQA-led development so it's best to contact Fiona directly for the latest information.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Launch Event for HNC/D Computer Games Development

We would like to invite you, or representatives from your Centre, to attend the Launch Event for the new HNC/D Computer Games Development group awards.

This event will take place on Friday 18th June 2010 at 1030 hours in the Stirling Highland Hotel, Spittal Street, Stirling FK8 1DU.

For directions go to

This event will introduce the new awards as well as provide information on:

1. Planned exemplar material production
2. Proposed delivery schedules
3. Articulation routes
4. Credit transfer from existing HNC

To register on-line, please click on the URL below:

Thank you for your continued support for SQA qualifications and look forward to seeing you at the event.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Consultation Event - Review of HN Computing Awards

As you are aware, we are about to commence the review of the HNC/D Computer Networking awards. In light of feedback from the Computing & ICT Sector Panel, we felt it would also be beneficial to take into account the future plans for HNC/D Computing due to the overlap between the current Computing: Technical Support and Computer Networking awards

The purpose of this event is to gain feedback from the sector and offer ideas on the new structure of the awards. We have in place a small working group who will be presenting on the day and offering group workshops to drive forward any suggestions.

The event will take place on Friday 4th June 2010 at 1030 hours in the Jurys Inn, Jamaica Street, Glasgow

If you would like to attend this consultation event, please click on the URL below to register online: