Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Twitter milestone

We got our 400th follower on Twitter today. We started to use Twitter three years ago so that's a reasonable following in a relatively short period of time. In fact, we decided to give Twitter a try after one of our annual team meetings, and it has clearly turned out to be worthwhile.

Of course, I would like more people to follow us, since it's a great way of keeping up to date with what we're doing, so, if you don't already, please follow the team via this link. I promise not to bombard you with trivia. We use Twitter for small updates (such as important news about new IT qualifications) but we don't over-use it.

You can access Twitter via your PC, tablet or smartphone, so it's an easy and convenient way to receive news about vocational Computing qualifications. I hope you choose to follow the team.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Summer work

The summertime is a good time for the team to catch up with all of the things that fall behind during term time. The Computing team, in common with all SQA staff, have standard holidays so we work through the summer, but the place is a lot quieter with many staff on holiday and most centres closed for the holidays. So it's a great time to catch up with unfinished work, and take stock of things.

Last week we had our annual team meeting, when we review the last year, consider the current year, and generally discuss what works and what doesn't. We plan to continue with the satisfaction survey that we started last year, which aims to measure your satisfaction with the service that we provide to centres. Look out for more news about this.

The team are working on a number of projects over the summer including, but not limited to, the HN Review, the e-commerce project, the review of Graded Units, the Computer Games development, and the HN 2.0 initiative.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Scotland's Colleges support for teachers

I met with Gerry Dougan of Scotland's Colleges yesterday to discuss the ways in which that organisation could support the new Computing qualifications, specifically the new HN awards.

The new HNC is already available, and the HNDs are not far behind. The feedback from centres has been overwhelmingly positive. The new courses are up-to-date and flexible. In fact, they are so up-to-date that several teachers have expressed concerns about their ability to deliver some of the topics within the new awards. While it's exciting to include units about Cloud Computing, Convergence Technologies and Computing Forensics, it can be hard for busy teachers to stay up-to-date with the latest knowledge and skills in an area that changes as much as this field.

Gerry appreciated the challenges facing the sector and agreed to discuss with his colleagues ways in which Scotland's Colleges can help Computing lecturers to update their knowledge and skills to make the most of the opportunities in the new awards.

Contact Gerry if you want to know more about the CPD available for college staff. Contact Caroline if you want to know more about what's in the new awards.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Computer Assisted Assessment Conference

I attended the CAA 2012 Conference this week. It is organised by Southampton University, and held in Southampton. This was the 15th annual event.

It was well attended, with representative from many UK universities, several awarding bodies and some international attendees, including a representative from an Australian university. A number of Scottish universities, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, were represented. In fact, the keynote talk was given by Steve Draper from Glasow University, who explored why technology had not transformed learning and assessment. In fact, this assertion (that technology had not transformed education in the way many people expected) was a theme throughout the conference.

I attended a number of presentations throughout the event. I particularly enjoyed one given by another Scottish academic, Nora Mogey of Edinburgh University, about the "stylic differences between types and handwritten examinations". Nora gave a fascinating talk about student perceptions about, and the actual impact of, typing examination answers rather than writing them. Another presentation I particularly enjoyed was from Sue Timmis of Surrey University who spoke about "the cutting edge of research into e-assessment".

My own paper on "The need for a taxonomy to facilitate e-assessment" was accepted (conference papers are peer reviewed before being accepted), and I gave a presentation on this topic, which seemed to be well received.
The thrust of my argument was that one of the things holding back the adoption of online assessment was the lack of standards -- the lack of an agreed vocabularly (taxonomy) being a case in point.

All of the papers presented at the conference are published in the conference proceedings, and I think that this year's publication will make intesting reading.

Computing is the best supported subject in SQA in terms of e-learning and e-assessment materials, and attendance at events like this always encourages me to be bolder in this regard, which is something that the HN 2.0 project plans to do.

Contact Caroline for a list of resources available for the HN awards.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

New E-Commerce units

A few months ago, I stated that we were looking at our e-commerce provision to ensure that it was up-to-date, since the Scottish Government had targetted e-commerce as a vital area for the Scottish economy.

Some of the existing units were pretty long in the tooth, and many of the latest developments in this area where missing, so we took the decision to write a series of new units, spanning SCQF Levels 6, 7 and 8. The units (at all three Levels) will be called E-Commerce: Principles & Practice. As the title infers, each unit will be a mix of knowledge and skills.

We are currently in the process of writing the units, which will be available to centres from December. The units will be offered stand-alone, and we may also create a PDA from them. It is likely that some or all of them will be added to some existing awards (such as the new HNC in Computing).

The project is being led by John Gordon, who many of you will know from his time as Director of MEDC. Contact John if you want more information about this development.