Monday, 31 January 2011

Updated team chart

There have been a couple of small changes to the responsibilities within the team. Nothing major. Caroline continues to (broadly) look after the HN part of the portfolio and Hilary (broadly) looks after the NC/SVQ part of the portfolio.

You can download the current version of the team's organisation chart here.

Linux Cascade Centre Starts Cascading

The first part of DIVA process is to support capacity building and staff development.  Here is a training for teaching staff offer from the recently appointed cascade centre for Linux
Linux Professional Institute (LPI) Training Opportunity
Forth Valley College, in conjunction with LPI (Linux Professional Institute) are running a CPD opportunity for staff wishing to deliver the LPI-1 qualification within their own Centre. The training will be offered on two dates and lasts 5 days at a cost of £525 per delegate. All courses run at Forth Valley College, Falkirk Campus . There are a choice of two dates:
4th  – 8th April
27th  June – 1st July
The 5 day training course will prepare participants for the Linux Professional Institute examinations LPI- 101 and LPI- 102 which when successfully achieved give LPIC-1 certification.
For more information or to book a place please contact Tony Dyer on 01324 403158 or e-mail

Safer Internet Day 2011

Safer Internet Day 2011 is 8 February. As part of a wide range of national initiatives to support this event, SQA will offer part of the Internet Safety course for free to learners during the week commencing 7 February and ending 11 February.

We hope that the course will of interest to all sorts of people -- young people who may be concerned about online bullying and older people who may be concerned about identity theft or online fraud. The one week course will provide a taste of everything that's in the actual course.

We plan to use social media to engage learners. The course sign-up will be done using Twitter, which we will also use for course updates, and we will use a blog for the actual teaching and learning. The entire course has been optimised for delivery on a mobile phone (although it can be done on a PC). There is no formal assessment.

We could do with your help! Please encourage your learners to follow us on Twitter. That's all you need to do. Once they do, we will take care of them. The only thing the learners require is a mobile phone (or a PC). There is absolutely no cost, no form filling and no time commitment.

We hope that this short taster course will not only be fun and interesting (and short!) but also deliver genuinely useful knowledge and skills about how to protect yourself when you're online. So I would be grateful if you use your own networks (websites, student forums, etc) to pass on the following URL to everyone who may be interested:

Please contact Caroline if you want to know more about this initiative.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Keeping up-to-date with SQA

I am sometimes told that teachers are too busy to check this blog or follow us on Twitter, and I appreciate the pressures on teachers and lecturers during term-time (I was one myself for 22 years).

But these tools are designed to save time. The blog is a great way of knowing what has happened, or what is about to happen, without waiting for your SQA Co-ordinator to pass on a letter. Twitter provides real-time information about the team so, for example, I can let you know if a member of the team is absent, which might explain why your e-mail has went unanswered. They are also democratic media. It doesn't matter if you are Head of Department or a part-time lecturer, anyone can access them.

You can access the blog and Twitter via your mobile phone, which is a great way of reading them. The blog has an RSS feed that can be used on your phone (I use Newsrob on my Andoid handset) and most modern phones come with Twitter software (simply follow sqacomputing). So, in the space of two minutes on the daily commute you can keep up-to-date with developments.

I should emphasise that neither the blog nor Twitter replace anything. They are additional services that the team take the time to maintain on top of the standard communication channels (letters, website, etc.).

Software Development: Relational Database Systems

Following QST agreement, there have been significant changes made to the HN Unit DH3D 35 Software Development: Relational Database Systems.

Due to this, we have had to assign a new unit number to the revised version.  This means that within each of the group awards that this unit appears, you will have the choice to deliver either the older version DH3D 35 or the revised version FE77 35.

These changes have no implications on the current Oracle mapping arrangements.  Full credit transfer will be given for those who have delivered the older version of the unit and wish to enter candidates for the revised version.  A end date has been placed on DH3D 35 of 31st July 2013.

An exemplar pack is currently being processed and should be available by the end of February (at the latest)from the SQA secure website.

Click here to download the revised version.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Spreadsheet Safe

Since February 2009 SQA has worked closely with Q-Validus, a Dublin based organisation who are leaders in creating and supporting global assessment and certification programmes.

At that time SQA signed a formal endorsement agreement with Q-Validus and this partnership has seen SQA's full endorsement of Q-Validus' suite of IT certification programmes that are designed to improve productivity in the workplace through more efficient and effective use of modern day office IT applications. The certification programmes focus on improving functional and collaborative skills between knowledge workers within today's technology-centric workplace. This programme is now being rolled out globally by our partners.

One of these innovative Units is Spreadsheet Safe.

Spreadsheet Safe is a recognised computer skills training and certification standard for those who work with important spreadsheets. Endorsed by SQA, now Spreadsheet Safe can become a valuable new programme addition for your training centre and your clients.

The Spreadsheet Safe qualification is mapped to the UK National Occupational Standards (NOS) ITQ 2009 and is endorsed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The programme is designated at Level 7 and with 7 Credits on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Spreadsheet Safe is also approved CPD by ACCA.

With a published course book, e-learning, automated testing and a recognised certificate, Spreadsheet Safe complements existing spreadsheet training and offers a valued additional training perspective.

For Syllabus, click here: Syllabus

For Practice test items, click here: Practice

For a ‘Snapshot’, click here: Snapshot

For our website, click here: Home

For information about how to become a Spreadsheet Safe Authorised Centre please contact Q-Valdus directly 00 353 1 716 3740 or by email:

SQA Contact:

Assessing online writing

I was invited to give the inaugural talk at the University of Dundee's new EduZone series of seminars. My talk was on the assessment of online writing. I reported on some research I carried out on the assessment of student contributions to online forums.
The presentation seemed to go well and there was a lively question-and-answer session at the end. There was a consensus that all sectors of education (school, college and university) are unclear about how to assess such things as student blogs.

The full paper can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Changes to HN Group Award Frameworks and Specifications

Earlier last year I posted on the blog that our HN Product Team had developed new webpages on the SQA website to list all changes to group awards and unit specifications across all qualification areas (including Computing).

This is really just a reminder to check these pages regularly as they provide useful information and help you to identify whether you have the most up-to-date material.

Also available is an electronic version of the `HN Catalogue'.  This is an excel spreadsheet listing all HN specifications.

To access click here.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Child protection conference

I attended a conference in Edinburgh today about the new Scottish Government guidelines on child protection. The new guidelines were introduced late last year and, among other things, extended protection to unborn children.

My interest in the conference related to the online child protection qualifications that SQA offers. These are the Internet Safety unit and the PDA in Online Child Protection. SQA remains the only UK awarding body with qualifications in this area. We took a stand at the conference to promote these awards.

The Minister for Children, MSP Adam Ingram, gave an interesting keynote talk about the new guidelines. Other speakers included the Head of the GTC Scotland, who emphasised the role teachers had to play in implementing the guidelines.

Contact Caroline for more information about SQA's awards in this area.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Working with centres

Last year I posted a message about me, or one of my team, coming out to your centre to meet with your teams to discuss qualifications development. As a result of that post, a couple of centres contacted us and requested a visit. This seems a good time to repeat that offer.

We would be happy to come out and discuss how SQA develops qualifications or discuss the current portfolio or help with your development planning. Please note that we can only discuss qualifications - not verification or related issues. It's not a free verification-preparation visit.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss a visit.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Cascade Centre for Linux

We are delighted to announce that  following the  selection process  that Forth Valley College will act as the Cascade Centre for Linux LPI Certification.  Forth Valley has been selected based on their experience to date with the Linux programmes and their capacity to roll out this expertise to other Colleges in Scotland.

We look forward to working with Forth Valley and  the Linux Professional Institute.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

HNC/D Information Technology: Service Management & Delivery

SQA is working with the City of Glasgow College (CoG) to develop a new award entitled HNC/D Information Technology: Service Management & Delivery. The development is being led by CoG and supported by SQA.

The first meeting of the Qualification Development Team met this afternoon. Deryck Nutley is the lead developer and convened the meeting. Representatives from the "old" Glasgow Met, Central College, and Nautical College attended.

It's early days in this development. The first task is to define the aims and objectives of the new awards. But they will have a clear vocational emphasis, with strong vendor links.

The team hope to have the qualification available from August 2011.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to the readers of this blog. I hope you had a nice holiday. The team returned to the office today so we're available if you want to contact us.

During 2011 we will continue to use this blog to let you know what's going on in SQA. You might want to add this site to your RSS feed. We recently customised the blog for reading on a mobile device so it should look good if you visit it on your smartphone. You can also follow us on Twitter. If you're interested in working with us, you should join our Groupsite.

One of the things I hope to introduce this year is an annual survey of your satisfaction with what we do. I plan to create an online survey to measure this. I'll post something in the near future.

Here's hoping that 2011 is good for Computing.