Friday, 29 October 2010

Heads of Computing Event

Just a reminder to say we have limited places available at the Heads of Computing Event on Friday 3rd December 2010 in Edinburgh.

If you are intending on coming along, please register soon here.

CISCO units

A writing team responsible for producing the updated HN units that link to the new CISCO curriculum met this morning to take forward this work. We hope to produce new units by the end of March next year. These units will fully incorporate the CISCO Explorer and Discoverer curriculum. Representatives of City of Glasgow, Motherwell, Angus, Cardonald, and Stow colleges attended.

A key part of the training was to try to produce very generic units that are fully compatible with CISCO but can also be delivered by centres not wishing to follow a specific vendor and also units that will not age too quickly and require regular updating. I appreciate that's easier said than done but the team were keen to try.

These new units will likely form part of the current HN review so Gerry Mackie, the lead developer for that project, came along and updated the team about what he is doing and what he needs from this development.

Contact Caroline for more information about this project.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Qualification Support Team for NC Computing

The Qualification Support Team (QST) responsible for supporting non-advanced awards met this afternoon in the SQA offices in Glasgow. Representatives of various colleges attended to discuss ways in which SQA can support non-advanced awards such as the National Certificate in Digital Media Computing and the various NPAs that exist at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6, such as PC Passport.

The main purpose of each QST meeting is to discuss the suggestions for improvement or support that we receive from centres but today we also had an interesting discussion on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which will have a big impact on vocational education. It was very pleasing to hear from the school representatives that Computing is already well positioned to meet the requirements of CfE through such provision as the new NPAs in Computer Games Development.

We also had a presentation from Julie Carruth, of SQA, who explained the new process for developing qualifications. The days when people like me decided (or not) to develop awards have gone and there are now formal processes that must be gone. Julie pointed out that this might slow things down a little but is more transparent and professional way to go about things.

An issue came up about the way centres sometimes ask for support. We receive requests in various formats and this can cause problems when we try to interpret what is meant (one request today had to be returned to sender because we didn't know what he actually wanted). So, we agreed, that from now on we would only accept requests for support if they were received on the proper forms, which is either an HN comment form or a QST form.

We're always looking for new blood so contact Hilary if you are interested in serving on this QST.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Engage for education

The Scottish Government set up the Engage for Education website to stimulate discussion about education in Scotland. The associated blog has posts from various individuals about their daily work in education. I was recently invited to contribute to the blog about the new NPAs in Computer Games Development. You can see my post here.

Follow us on Twitter

The Computing team started to use Twitter around a year ago and, since then, there has been slow but steady growth in the number of people who follow us. We presently have 155 followers. But it would be better if that was 500. We use Twitter for messages that we would not normally post on the blog (such as to let you know when one of us is on leave - good to know if you are waiting for a reply to a message). The advantage of Twitter is that it is widely available on a lot of platforms from PCs to mobile phones to tablets. The team don't "tweet" very often so if you chose to follow us you would not get swamped with messages but you would be sure to know what's happening in vocational education in Computing.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Qualification Support team for HN awards

The Qualification Support Team (QST) for HN/PDA/SVQ awards met this morning. It meets twice per year. The QST has responsibility for ensuring that our HN/PDA/SVQ awards are properly supported by SQA.

The main part of the meeting is spent going over the various forms submitted by centres, which ask for changes or clarifications to units or assessments. If these suggestions are supported by the QST then I would normally implement them. We received eight suggestions for change today, of which the majority were accepted.

Today's agenda also included a discussion on the Curriculum for Excellence since it was felt that this will have important implications for HN programmes.

Gerry Mackie, the lead developer for the HNC/D Computing and Networking review, also gave a talk on how that development is progressing.

You can make your voice heard if you have ideas on how SQA can support the delivery of HN awards by joining the QST. Contact Caroline for more information.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency

I got back from holiday yesterday and started working through my inbox. I got to an important message this afternoon about a new education body called the Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency that will take over the functions of the Inspectorate of Education and Learning and Teaching Scotland from 1 July 2011. This new body sounds like it will be an important part of the Scottish education scene in the coming year, particularly with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence. More here.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

PDA in Web Design

We are currently undertaking consultation on the development of a new PDA in Web Design (linking with CIW Web Design Specialist qualification).

As part of this consultation, a questionnaire has been compiled which the results will help form the structure of the new award.  I would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to undertake the questionnaire by clicking on the URL below.

The deadline date for responses is Friday 29th October 2010.

Your input would be appreciated.

Annual Heads of Computing Event

It's that time again!!  The Annual Heads of Computing Event will take place this year on Friday 3rd December 2010 at 1000 hours in the Barcelo Edinburgh Carlton Hotel.

We are busy organising this event and hope to have a range of items for presentation and discussion.

To register, please click on the URL below:

As places are limited, please ensure you book early to secure your registration.

A maximum of two places can be reserved by each registered delegate.

Look forward to seeing you then.

Friday, 1 October 2010

We're moving

I appreciate that the readers of this blog don't really care about the internal structures of SQA, but the vocational Computing team are moving to a new area due to an internal restructure. The new area is called Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and the important bit is that the two parts of the Computing team will be working together (the "school" team and the "vocational" team). We're not physically joining, so I will continue to lead the vocational bit and Dave Main will continue to lead the school bit but it should mean that we work more closely. The responsibilities within my team are not changing either. The Head of Service is Alastair MacGregor. If the move goes smoothly, there should be no interruption to service. The new structure is effective from today.