Friday, 30 July 2010

GLOW and Internet safety

I met with Alan Hamilton, a GLOW Development Officer for LTS, this afternoon to discuss Internet safety resources available to schools via GLOW.

Alan told me that there is a the dedicated GLOW group called Internet Safety and Responsible Use that every teacher is automatically subscribed to, and also two blogs relating to Internet safety, one about resources and one for teachers.

I agreed to use the resource blog to link to the various SQA resources that support our Internet Safety qualification, which includes the entire course deliverable via mobile phone.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Links with CIW

We met with Loraine Johnston, of James Watt College, this morning to discuss a new PDA linked to CIW. We currently have a PDA that links to CIW's Foundations curriculum but we have been planning on extending links to include the CIW Site Designer award for some time.

We asked Lorraine to do a mapping of existing units to the Site Designer course a few months ago. The results were mixed -- some coverage but not 100%. So we decided to revise an old unit (Internet: Web Development) to cover the missing bits. The result will be a new PDA entitled Website Designer at SCQF Level 7, which will fully cover the Site Designer curriculum. This might consist of three units:

1. Web Development Essential Content (existing)
2. Web Development Complex Content (existing)
3. Internet: Web Development (revised)

The Site Designer course will not cover all of these units, but we will produce guidance on what extra needs to be done to pick up these units.

Of course, we have to consult on all of this but we know from centre feedback that there is a demand for this award. We hope to have the new PDA available to centres from January 2011. The new PDA (and the associated units) would sit inside HNC/D Interactive Media.

Contact Caroline for more information about the links between SQA and CIW.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Changes to Unit Specifications and Frameworks

There is a new facility available on the SQA website which tracks all changes made to exisiting HN Unit Specifications and any changes to existing Group Award structures across all subject areas. This could prove to be a useful tool for all practitioners looking to ensure they have the most up-to-date information.

Click here to access.

Internet Safety update

The Internet Safety unit has been very popular in schools and colleges in Scotland -- and across the UK. Infact it's SQA's most popular award in England.

It was originally developed in 2006 as SQA's first "paperless qualification" with digital teaching, learning and assessment materials -- including SQA's first course deliverable on a mobile phone. Thousands of young (and not so young) people have undertaken the qualification. Some schools offer it to every pupil in specific years (such as S2). Many colleges offer it to older students who are worried about such things as identity theft.

But the unit and the associated support materials are now nearly five years old so we plan to commence a minor update on the contents of the unit and the materials. We haven't started this project yet so there is no timeline as yet but expect to hear more in the near future.

Contact Caroline for more information about Internet Safety.

Arrangements Documents - Update

The Group Award structures within each of the following HNC/D Arrangements documents have been updated and can be downloaded from the SQA website from 1st August 2010:

1. HNC/D Computer Games Development
2. HNC Computing
3. HND Computing: Technical Support
4. HND Computing: Software Development
5. HNC Information Technology
6. HND Information Technology
7. HNC Interactive Media
8. HND Interactive Media
9. HNC/D Computer Networking & Internet Technology

Computer games qualifications in the news

Today's Scotsman has an article on the new qualifications in Computer Games Development.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Comparing qualifications across the UK

It can be confusing comparing qualifications from different awarding bodies and, especially, from different countries in the UK. A colleague sent me this useful leaflet this morning, which explains how the different frameworks relate to each other.
Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries

I thought that you might find it useful.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

CAA Conference

I attended the International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference today, in Southampton, where I presented a paper on the assessment of online writing. It was a good event with interesting keynote talks and presentations on a variety of topics such as the potential for wikis to assess collaborative writing, the barriers to the uptake of e-assessment, and selecting questions from an item bank.

My own presentation was based on a recent paper I wrote about the challenges in assessing online writing such as discussion forums and blogs. Some recent research I carried out indicated that current practice was not good. The talk seemed to be well received.
It was announced at the conference that a new International Journal of E-Assessment would be launched in the next few months, which would seek to share good practice in the design and implementation of online assessments. It sounds like an excellent initiative. The first edition of the journal will publish all of the papers presented at this conference.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Working with CEOP

I was in London today to meet with representatives of CEOP, who we are working with on a new qualification relating to child protection called the PDA in Online Protection & Safeguarding of Children. This qualification is designed for teachers, police officers, social workers and others who work with children.

As far as I know, it's the first national qualification in this area in the world and, partly as a result of its innovative nature, it has been a long time in development. But we are now ready to pilot it. The qualification consists of two units and we plan to pilot the first unit (Online Protection of Children) during August and September.

CEOP hopes that everyone who completes their Ambassador programme will go on and at least undertake the above unit and, perhaps, the PDA too.

Contact Caroline for more information about this qualification.

Friday, 16 July 2010

National Units in Computer Games are now available

I received an e-mail this morning to inform me that the new units that were developed as part of the NPA in Computer Games Development (at SCQF 4, 5 and 6) are now available on the SQA website. These units are:
  1. F915 10 Computer Games: Design (SCQF 4/Intermediate 1)
  2. F916 10 Computer Games: Media Assets (SCQF 4/Intermediate 1)
  3. F917 10 Computer Games: Development (SCQF 4/Intermediate 1)
  4. F915 11 Computer Games: Design (SCQF 5/Intermediate 2)
  5. F916 11 Computer Games: Media Assets (SCQF 5/Intermediate 2)
  6. F917 11 Computer Games: Development (SCQF 5/Intermediate 2)
  7. F915 12 Computer Games: Design (SCQF 6/Higher)
  8. F916 12 Computer Games: Media Assets (SCQF 6/Higher)
  9. F917 12 Computer Games: Development (SCQF 6/Higher)
It's great to see these units now available to centres. I hope you like what's in them.

Contact Hilary for further information about the units or the associated NPAs.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Manifesto for a Networked Nation

The UK's Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, recently published a report on the use of the Internet in the UK. The Manifesto for a Networked Nation makes interesting reading.

Her manifesto is simple: by the end of the current parliament, everyone of working age should be online and no-one should retire without web skills. She points out the size of the challenge - 10 million adults in the UK have never used the Internet. These are primarily the socially disadvantaged and the elderly.

The report also points out that far from being anti-social, the Internet "can provide a lifeline from social isolation". It also extols the use of the Internet for learning and points out that it provides opportunities to re-engage with learning for "those who have had bad experiences of institutions". She concludes by stating: "The disadvantages of being offline are becoming too great".

SQA is looking at ways we can contribute to the initiative. Qualifications such as Internet Safety are already available but it may be that we need to look at our portfolio to check if the specific demographics mentioned in the report are catered for.

There is a dedicated website for the initiative.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Using web tools to develop qualifications

Online services provide a great way to communicate and collaborate with people, and I've recently been working on ways SQA can use web services when we develop new qualifications. I came up with this diagram.

It shows how services such as blogs, wikis, online storage and e-groups can be used during the qualification development process. I'll resist calling it "Qualifications Development 2.0"!

I hope to use this approach when we develop the revised HN awards in Computing and Networking. If you know any other web service that could be used, share it on this blog.

Scotland's great strength in qualification development is the collaborative way in which we work, involving ordinary teachers and lecturers in the development process. These tools support this collaborative and transparent approach.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Launch of new NPAs in Computer Games Development at the Scottish Learning Festival

The details for this year's Scottish Learning Festival were recently published and the programme includes a seminar dedicated to the new NPAs in Computer Games Development. The lead developer (Julie McLaren of Madras College) will be leading the event. I hope you chose to come along and find out more about these new awards. You can sign-up for Julie's seminar here.

In the meantime, contact Hilary if you want to know more about these new awards.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Developing your own HN awards

I met with David McDade, of Stow College, this afternoon to discuss a proposal for a new HN award.  SQA's procedures permit centres to come forward with ideas for new awards - and I thought Stow's idea was a good one.

The process is very simple. Basically, the centre notifies SQA about the idea, fills in a form, and then gets on with developing the award. Most centres have devolved responsibility for validating SQA awards, although SQA has to validate the units.

There is an HN Toolkit that centres can use to guide them through the process, and it also helps them devise new qualifications. And, of course, me and my team are happy to help in whatever way we can, which might include advice about qualification design or unit writing training.

David is hoping that his new award is available from August 2011.

Contact the QPM team for more information about how to develop your own HN awards.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Team update

I updated the team organisation chart today.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Please download and print this document and use it when contacting SQA.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Oracle links

SQA has had formal links with Oracle for several years. Oracle has recently updated their Certified Associate curriculum (from 10G to 11G) and requested that we update the links to reflect this change. Our links with Oracle involve college and school programmes. I met with Willie McCabe (of James Watt College) and Wendy Reith (of Royal High School) this afternoon to discuss how we should deal with the changes.

On the college side, we agreed to update the PDA in Database Programming (at SCQF Level 8) to map it onto 11G. We also hope to take the opportunity to reduce this award from its current seven credits to five credits by giving it a core-and-option structure. Willie is going to take this forward.

On the school side, Wendy is going to map 11G onto the Relational Database unit within Higher Information Systems so that school pupils can continue to study the Oracle course in their fifth or sixth years at school.

We hope to complete this work by September. The end result will be that both students and pupils can gain a nationally recognised award (the PDA or the Higher) and also the internationally recognised Oracle Certified Associate qualification. Oracle provides its entire curriculum free of charge to any school or college wishing to undertake either of these awards.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about SQA's links with Oracle.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

NC Digital Media Computing and NPA Games

I recently mentioned that the units within the new NPAs in Computer Games had been finalised but I didn't mention that these units would also be included in the NC Digital Media Computing frameworks.

I have still to think through exactly what will go where, but it is (highly) likely that the units (and the associated NPAs) will be put inside the appropriate NC awards. For example, the NC award at Level 4 will include the NPA Computer Games Development at Level 4. Of course, you don't have to offer the full NPA but if you do then your students can claim the NC and the NPA awards.

We will update the NC frameworks over the summer so that you can offer the Games units or awards from August.

Contact Hilary if you want further information about NC or NPA awards.

Monday, 5 July 2010

NPA Computer Games Development units

We recently developed three new NPAs relating to computer games, entitled NPA in Computer Games Development at SCQF 4, 5 and 6. I spent most of Friday doing final checks on the units that make up these awards.

The original proposal was a single award (at Level 4) composed of existing units but, after consultation, this changed significantly - to three awards consisting of entirely new units. So what was originally a small development became quite a large project. But I think it's been worth it. The new awards look good, and I was impressed with the quality of the units. The Qualification Development Team has done a great job.

The awards are "hierarchical", which is SQA-speak for having identical structures (at all three levels), which enables students to focus on the contents of the courses - and come out with the highest level that they are capable of achieving. I think that these awards could be very popular in schools and colleges. They chime well with the aspirations of the Curriculum for Excellence, and provide an interesting and up-to-date way for students to gain a range of skills, including problem solving, enterprise, communication and, of course, IT skills.

We hope to launch these new qualifications at this year's Scottish Learning Festival so look out for us at that event. In the meantime, contact Hilary if you want to know more about these new qualifications. The Arrangements and unit specifications will appear on the SQA website in the near future. We will produce assessment support packs in the next few months.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Getting British Business Online

I attended the launch of Getting British Business Online (GBBO) on Tuesday evening, which was held at the Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. This initiative aims to get 100,000 new businesses online by the end of this year and is supported by Google, BT, and E-Skills among others. It's a really attractive initiative since it provides small businesses with a free website (with a personalised domain name), including online payment facilities.

Around 250 people attended the event. Mostly small (one or two people) businesses who are among the 1.5 UK businesses (30% of the total) who don't have an online presence. The head of Google UK, Matt Brittin, gave the keynote speech and provided lots of interesting facts and figures. He emphasised the importance of the mobile platform, pointing out that 50% of new Internet connections are via smartphones. He said businesses were "still in the silent movie era" in their use of online technologies - and needed to modernise.

SQA will provide a new qualification to support this initiative. We plan to produce a National Progression Award entitled Doing Business Online at SCQF Level 5. The award will mean that businesses can not only get an online presence but also understand how best to capitalise on it. The free website and supporting qualification should make an attractive package to businesses.

We hope to have it available to centres from August. Contact Hilary for more information.