Friday, 30 September 2011

NC Computer Games Development (Level 6) first meeting

The first meeting of the QDT for the new National Certificate in Computer Games Development at SCQF Level 6 was held this morning, in the SQA offices in Glasgow.

Ten people attended, representing colleges, schools and employers. There was a good geographical spread (colleges from Dundee to Kilmarnock were represented) and a good gender mix (unusually for this subject area, more women than men). It was particularly pleasing to see a school representative on the team.

The purpose of this first meeting was to set the scene and provide background information on the development.
We discussed how this development fits with existing qualifications, the role of the QDT, and the planned timescales. I hope to have this new award available to centres from August 2012.

It was a good, productive meeting, which, I hope, achieved its goals. There were lots of useful contributions from people. The popularity of computer games with learners was apparent, as was the educational merits of this subject area.

It's not too late to volunteer to serve on the QDT. Contact Hilary for more information. We hope to have the second meeting some time in October.

Once complete, this new award will sit alongside a comprehensive portfolio of qualifications in computer games.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

NPA Mobile Technology

I've mentioned the NPA in Mobile Technology a couple of times in passing, but I thought it was time to give it its own post.

The NQGA team in SQA is leading this work. The qualification is being developed by a consortium of colleges led by Anniesland College. The qualification is designed around the use of mobile technology, such as smartphones and tablets, and also the production of software ("apps") for them. There will be two awards at SCQF Levels 4 and 5. The Level 4 award will contain two units, and the Level 5 three units. These new awards should be available to centres from January 2012.

Of course, all of this is subject to the validation going well. The validation will take place around late October or early November.

I think these new awards will be appealing to schools and colleges. Contact Joe Spencer, of the NQGA team, for more information.

Annual update letters

I've been working on my annual update letters over the last few days. They are now about to be dispatched to centres. Once per year I write two letters, one for non-advanced (NC/NPA) awards and one for advanced (HN/PDA) awards.

The NC/NPA letter (see below) contains information about a number of non-advanced awards, including recently developed NC qualifications. It also includes important information about the forthcoming NC in Computer Games Development at SCQF Level 6.

The HN/PDA letter (see below) contains information about the HN Review plus the latest changes to existing awards.


There is nothing in the letters (in fact, a lot less) that regular readers of this blog will not already know, but I am aware that there are teachers and lecturers who don't read blogs or use social media.

I plan to write a third letter about SVQs (to training centres and colleges) in the near future.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Scottish Learning Festival 2011

The team attended this year's SLF, at the SECC in Glasgow, at various times during the two day event. It was the 11th Festival.

I managed to catch a couple of keynotes and some workshops. The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell, gave an interesting talk on the future of Scottish education. He placed particular emphasis on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), describing it as "the most important education reform for a generation", which was taking place "at one of the most exciting times for Scottish education". He reminded the audience that CfE began in 2002, with the "national debate", which was instigated by the Scottish government of the time. He asked everyone to get involved in the current consultation on the new qualifications coming as a result of CfE.

His wide-ranging talk included CfE, Glow, and the recent report on post-16 education, Putting Learners at the Centre, which proposes a guaranteed learning or training place for every young person between 16-19.

One of the workshops I attended was the NC/NPA workshop presented by Elda Fleck of SQA. Elda and her team gave a presentation on the range of National Certificates (NCs) and National Progression Awards (NPAs) now available to centres. She pointed out that there are 87 NCs and 197 NPAs either available or currently in development (40). The full list is available on the NQGA website. A college lecturer provided a case study on the development and implementation of the NPA in Geographical Information Systems at SCQF Level 6, which was validated in June 2011. The team emphasised their potential to broaden the curriculum in schools and colleges, engage learners, and raise attainment.

There are lots of Computing/IT NCs and NPAs, with more on the way, ranging from PC Passport to Computer Games. Contact Hilary for more information.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

NC Computer Games Development QDT meeting

The first meeting of the Qualification Development Team (QDT) for the new NC in Computer Games Development at SCQF Level 6 will meet on 30 September, between 10am and 2pm, in the Glasgow office.

This first meeting is a kick-off meeting where I outline the role of the QDT, and the nature and scope of the development. It's an open meeting, from which we choose the core QDT members. Please contact Hilary if you are interested in attending.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

College University Subject Partnership meeting

There was another in the series of CUSP (College University Subject Partnership) meetings yesterday afternoon, at Caledonian University. Anne Russell, formerly of Central College now City of Glasgow College, convenes the Computing CUSP.

These CUSPs are funded by the Greater Glasgow Articulation Project (GGAP), which supports a number of CUSPs for various subjects. Their purpose, as the name suggests, is to smooth the transition from college to university.

The meeting began with an interesting presentation from Touleen Boutaleb, of Caledonian University, who updated member of the planned changes to their BEng in Network & Security Engineering. The interesting thing for me was the emphasis on maths and the importance of examinations, both of which have implications for the current HN Review. Chris Deegan, the Qualification Leader for the HND Computer Networking, was present at the meeting, and was particularly interested in this new degree.

Margaret Millan, of Motherwell College, provided an update on a current GGAP funded project, which involves staff from Motherwell College and Caledonian University exchanging for a short time. Anne invited members to think about other initiatives, linked to articulation, that could be supported. From my own point of view, it would be great if some of these projects were linked to the new HNs.

Anne plans to hold a couple of information/workshop events later this year, open to all members, and invited SQA to participate, which, of course, we would be delighted to do.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Awarding Body Forum

I attended an Awarding Body Forum today. These are held quarterly, in locations across the UK. Today's meeting was held in the Pearson offices in London (Pearson is the parent company of EdExcel).

These meetings are convened by the Sector Skills Council (E-Skills) and their main purpose is to update awarding bodies on relevant developments. They also provide awarding bodies with an opportunity to raise issues with the SSC.

While much of the agenda is mainly of operational interest to awarding bodies, such as changes to funding rules, there are always some items of general interest. At today's meeting we discussed the Royal Society's study into falling uptake of Computing in schools. Awarding bodies have been invited to make submission to the study.

There was also discussion about Modern Apprenticeships (MAs). Modern Apprenticeships are "owned" by the Sector Skills Council (not awarding bodies) but they include an educational element, which normally provides apprentices with nationally recognised qualifications, such as SVQs. E-Skills has been working on updated MAs for IT User and IT Practitioner/Professional apprentices. The IT User MAs should be available soon, and the IT Practitioner/Professional ones early next year.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

NC Computer Games Development

Scotland has a strong reputation in computer games, and we've tried to reflect that with a world leading portfolio of national qualifications in this area.

We began development of an HNC and HND Computer Games Development in 2008, and these were available to centres in August 2009. In that same year we began development of NPAs in Computer Games Development and these were available from August 2010. In 2010, a group of colleges began development of a National Certificate (NC), and this is now available to centres (the Arrangements will be available shortly).

The NC qualification is at SCQF Level 5, and there has been a lot of interest in developing a more advanced NC award at SCQF Level 6. This morning, I met with Genevieve McCabe, of our NQGA team, to take this forward.

The Level 5 qualification was developed under SQA's Specialist Collaborative Development system, which is intended to be used when a small group of centres want to create a new qualification. This new development, at Level 6, would be a Consortium Development, which is a model we use for larger developments that will interest a high number of centres. Consortium developments are led by my team.

We agreed to take this forward at this morning's meeting. We hope to have the new NC in Computer Games Development at SCQF Level 6 available to centres from August 2012. Hilary will work with me on this project.

Please contact Hilary if you are interested in finding out more about this development.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Curriculum for Excellence

I've tried to find a little time this week to look over the draft course arrangements that have recently been published by SQA. Of course, I was particularly interested in the details about the proposed Computing courses. I also read through the Framework for Assessment.

These changes are very important for Scottish education. Many students who progress to HNCs and HNDs in the future will possess these new qualifications so it's important that we build on them. The current HN review has kept an eye on this development to ensure that the new HN awards "work" with these new awards. Similarly, the new National 4s and 5s will form the basis of progression to a number of the vocational NPA and NC awards.

The current proposals are only drafts so you have an opportunity to contribute to the development.

Contact Derek Middleton if you want to know more about Computing within the Curriculum for Excellence.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

CPD courses on SQA Academy

For the last few years SQA Academy has run a set of CPD courses for lecturers in partnership with Scotland's Colleges. Some of these have focused on NQ subjects that are taught in colleges while others have been more general eg innovative uses of assessment or preparing for a verification visit.

They will be running joint courses again this year and I met with Fiona Saxby, one of SQA's Learning Technologists and Aileen Duffy from Scotland's Colleges to discuss new subjects the courses might focus on. As they are hoping to roll out to schools as well, I have suggested the NPAs in Computer Games Development at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 as I get lots of enquiries particularly from schools interested in offering this qualification but who feel they need more support regarding delivery.

It would be good to hear if you have suggestions as to what should be included in a course, from the perspectives of centres already running it or what areas of guidance you feel are required before you would consider running Computer Games Development.

There is only a short time frame to develop material so please respond to me as soon as possible.