Tuesday, 25 May 2010

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?


  1. Sounds like an excellent idea. Glad to see the inclusion of the soft skills as these still tend to be undervalued.

  2. I like it, but is it not a lot to cover in one unit, in which case I would concentrate on the soft skills.

  3. Thanks for feedback. I agree, Rob, that it is a lot to cover in a single credit (Level 4?) unit but I think a broad ranging unit is what the person wanted. So it would have to be quite shallow in its treatment of each area.

  4. Have a look at new essential skills framework taking shape - Lena Gray will show you - unit like this sits well in Core Skills space - need here at this level is broader than computing/lifeskills/digital literacy etc

  5. I'll talk to Lena, Joe. There's appears to be a demand for a basic ICT unit of some kind.

  6. Not sure about this. Is this to meet the learners' needs? or the centre's needs? I ask bcause I can find free online resources (video or tutorial style) that cover almost all of these basic skills.

  7. This is a good idea, but as Walter says there are resources available on the net at the present time.

    Perhaps this should be an on line module drawing the various resources together into one place.

    This would meet centre needs and also learner needs?

  8. How about two modules - one covering hardware and software related to what the average user should know -eg basic parts of a computer, connections, peripherals, audio, graphics and imaging, text input etc. The other module would cover use, eg email,searching, digital literacy, cloud computing etc. But as Walter says using existing free resources where possible.

  9. Walter, we may need to package these skills for a variety of reasons such as national recognition, national standards and funding purposes. "Introduction to Computers" was hugely popular in the 1990's and there doesn't seem to be anything like that in the catalogue right now.

  10. If we accept Walter's argument we may as well stop developing courses altogether! There are plenty of free resources available on the Net for virtually any computing topic.

    However, free resources don't constitute a curriculum. And while online resources are certainly useful, they need to be used with caution due to their volatility.

  11. I accept what Bobby and Ted have said with regard to creating a curriculum. I suppose my post was triggered by the fact that the original list didn't look like a curriculum - just a list of specific skills. So that's the challenge for awarding bodies - how to meet learner needs while satisfying other conditions (eg funding!) I have experience of working on a Making IT Personal programme so happy to help

  12. The original enquirer, Walter, just wanted a list of specific skills. His complaint was that no single unit provided these "essential skills" -- something that Intro to Computers did 20 years ago. Thanks for your offer of help. Your knowledge and experience would be invaluable if we develop something like this.

  13. Hi, I guess I am the original enquirer. I have been looking at the skills required by a new college student. They may have to develop enough IT competence to be able to use the college eLearning infrastructure. I am bringing a set of learning content up to date. This content has come from a couple of projects.
    I have started to flesh out a more coherent initial skills curriculum, and am keeping the content and learnign in synch with curriculum.
    There does not appear to be a unit in the SQA catalogue which fits.

    John Gordon