Thursday, 27 September 2012

Playing games in the classroom

Scotland's Colleges has supported the NPAs in Computer Games Development previously, and is now offering a new course for teachers who deliver one of the Computer Games qualifications. You can find out more and book here.

NC Computer Games Development (SCQF 6)

The validation event for the new NC in Computer Games Development (at SCQF Level 6) took place yesterday at Jury's Inn in Glasgow.

It's been a year since our first meeting and yesterday was the culmination of a lot of hard work by the Qualification Development Team. Some time ago, we decided to split the qualification into two: a creative award and a software development award. So, we actually validated two awards yesterday:

  1. NC Computer Games: Creative Development (SCQF Level 6)
  2. NC Computer Games: Software Development (SCQF Level 6).

The purpose of a validation event is to permit fresh eyes to scrutinise a proposed qualification. The validation panel was led by Fiona Rushton, of James Watt College, and the QDT was led by Frank Duffy of Motherwell College.

The outcome of the validation was that both awards were validated with conditions (technically, this is "not validated until conditions are met"). Although there were several conditions and recommendations, the team were delighted with the outcome.

We will address the conditions between now and December. The new awards will be available to centres from March 2013.

Please contact Hilary if you want more information about these new awards.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Qualification Review Team induction day

The Qualification Review Team (QRT) for Computing met today in Jury's Inn in Glasgow. Today was an induction day for the Computing and Social Science QRTs.

I have previously mentioned that QRTs have been created in four subject areas (Business, Computing, Social Science, and Engineering) to explore ways of making HN awards a better fit for articulating with degree courses.

The QRT for Computing has representatives from colleges throughout Scotland (such as City of Glasgow and Orkney colleges), and also representatives of universities (such as Strathclyde University and the Open University).

The main aim of today's induction meeting was to explain the purpose of the project to members and also to get their ideas about how we can improve articulation. We explored four aspects of the current HN awards in Computing:
  1. structure
  2. content
  3. assessment
  4. guidance.
It was a very productive meeting. We came up with a lot of ideas. Under structure, it was suggested that we think about how the full 15 credits could be used to facilitate articulation. Under content, there was support for new (optional) units in mathematics and study skills.  Under assessment, it was proposed that we created new integated assessments that combined the assessment for several units, better matching the assessment model used in universities. Under guidance, there was support for new guidance for learners and lecturers about how best to prepare for university.

The next task is for me to shortlist these ideas and come up with a list of enhancements that we can design and implement in the next few months, so that we can pilot these enhancements at the start of session 2013/14.

Contact me if you want more information about this development.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


The DIVA project was started in 2004 to ensure that SQA vocational awards were compatible with the latest vendor skills. Since that time we have forged relationships with a wide range of vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and Adobe.

We normally agreed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with each vendor. These define how SQA and the vendor will work together. In many cases this has meant that SQA qualifications embedded vendor qualifications. Readers of the HN Review blog will know that we recently introduced a new way of recognising vendor qualifications using SCQF, which was possibly a world first for this kind of mutual recognition.

The DIVA project has been ran by the New Ventures team, led by Joe Wilson. Me and my team met with Joe and his team to discuss the hand-over of DIVA from New Ventures to Qualifications Development (my area). This means that my team will take forward links with vendors in future (or, at least, those vendors that deliver computing skills). The hand-over will be phased over the period from now to Christmas.

Please contact me if you want to know more about the vocational Computing team's links with vendor qualifications.

Becoming an External Verifier

I often receive requests from teachers and lecturers about becoming an SQA External Verifier. I had a request today, which made me refresh my memory on the procedure.

An External Verifier (EV) is responsible for ensuring standards are maintained in SQA centres, and also to ensure that all centres apply the same national standards. You can find out more about the job here. Becoming an EV is fantastic continued professional development (CPD) for a teacher since it gives you an insight into national standards and local practices. EVs typically visit centres, normally Scottish schools or colleges, and check their assessment practices.

You can apply to become an EV by sending an e-mail to Appointee Management. After you apply, you would be considered for service when I carry out my annual EV selections, normally around Spring time each year. I try to freshen up my EV team by occasionally adding new blood to the team so don't be shy about applying if you are interested in carrying out this important national role.

The EV team is led by David Drennan who would be happy to answer your questions about the role.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Qualifications Support Teams

Qualifications Support Teams (QSTs) are used to support a suite of awards. In Computing, we have two QSTs -- one for non-advanced (NC/NPA/SVQ) awards and one for advanced (HN/PDA) awards. Both QSTs met today. The NC one met this morning and the HN one met this afternoon. This permitted some people to attend both meetings.

Most of the members of the QSTs are practitioners -- either college lecturers or school teachers. The Senior Verifier for Computing also serves (on both).

The main task for QSTs is to maintain qualifications. This might involve recommending new support materials or suggesting changes to existing qualifications. It's also the first group I consult with when qualifications are due to be reviewed. Some members of a QST go on to serve on Qualification Development Teams (QDTs).

A standing item at every meeting is to look at requests from centres. These requests might ask for new assessment materials or ask for changes to a unit specification. The QST will decide what to do with each request. This often results in me commissioning new material or revising a unit specification. We accept feedback from centres in one of two formats: either a standard comment form or a special form designed for QST feedback.

We are looking for new members for both QSTs so please contact Hilary (non-advanced) or contact Caroline (advanced) if you are interested in serving on the NC or HN one (respectively). It's a great way for you to get your voice heard and ensure SQA supports you in the way you want.

Friday, 7 September 2012

HN Review

As you know, there is a separate blog for the review of HN awards, and I normally try to keep posts about that development on that blog. But we're currently seeking stakeholder feedback on the qualifications so please visit the HN Review blog to find out more about how you can get involved. It's also a good place to find out how that project is coming along so don't forget to check it from time to time.