Friday, 25 January 2013

NC review

The review of some of the National Certificates (NCs) in this area commenced yesterday, when we held the first full-day meeting of the Qualification Development Team (QDT). We are specifically looking at the NCs in Digital Media Computing, which were first introduced in 2007.

The QDT is responsible for reviewing the existing awards and suggesting how the awards need to change. Once this is agreed, the QDT leads the development. Part of the job of the QDT is to consult with external stakeholders so that we don't make decisions in a vaccuum. The final output is an updated qualification.

Twelve peope attended yesterday's meeting, representing colleges (such as Inverness), schools (such as Cathkin HS) and businesses (an IT company based in Dunfermline).

It was a busy day and there was a lot of agreement about what is right and wrong with the current awards. For example, there was a consensus that the current awards are "too repetitive", that there is too much assessment, and that the contents need to be modernised. On the other hand, people liked the simple structure (6 mandatory and 6 optional units), liked the three levels (SCQF 4, 5 and 6). The large number of options was also liked. The business representative reminded us of the importance of core skills and this is likely to have a greater profile in the new awards. We also wanted to increase group work and a large project-type unit (in all awards) was liked.

So there were lots of agreement and lots of good ideas, which we now need to turn into something concrete.

It's not too late to get involved in this development so contact Hilary if you want know how. The updated awards will be available to centres from August 2014.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all developments in this area.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

PC Passport review

I announced the review of PC Passport late last year, and I recently noted that it was one of my priorities for the coming year.

The Qualification Design Team (QDT) for this project met for the first time yesterday. The QDT is responsible for creating the new awards. There are representatives of schools (such as Bannerman HS), colleges (such as Cardonald College) and business (a Glasgow-based company) on the group . I convene the group.

PC Passport was originally introduced in 2004 (it was piloted in 2003) and revised in 2007. During that time, it has become SQA's most successful vocational ICT qualification in terms of uptake (and income).

The meeting went well, and we made a great deal of progress. The first meeting in any development is a bit of a brain-storming session but this meeting was more productive than most since we made some pretty important decisions about the shape of the new awards. In fact, there was a great deal of consensus on the group (which is not always the case). One really important decision is that we want to go back to basics - to recreate the simplicity of the original PC Passport award. We also recognised that it needed to be modernised in terms of its contents, and the group had some exciting ideas about what should be in the new awards. There will continue to be three awards (at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6), but the title of the new awards will be different to reflect the new focus of the qualification.

We will consult on our proposals once we have firmed them up so look out for more details in the future.

We hope to have the new awards available to centres from August 2014, and plan to publish the group award specification early next year. Please contact Hilary if you want more information about this development. We're still looking for members of the QDT so please let us know if you are interested in working with us on this exciting development.

Friday, 11 January 2013

HNC/D Information Technology - Research

The current HNC/D Information Technology awards were first introduced in 2007 and are now due to be reviewed.

Before we commence a review of both awards, we are looking to undertake a full scoping exercise to ascertain the need for the awards, monitor recent uptake, identify specific issues, look at the balance of computing/business units and gain feedback from delivering centres.

We are looking for someone to take this scoping exercise forward  by the end of the financial year (31st March 2013).  This is paid work (20 days) commencing in the next couple of weeks.

If you are interested (and are able to commit private time to this project), then please contact me direct by clicking here.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Aiming for 500 followers

The recent satisfaction survey showed that Twitter is becoming more popular with readers of this blog. There was a large increase in the number of people who said they used it to follow the team's activities.

We currently have over 450 followers and we're aiming to get this up to 500 in the next few months. So, if you don't already, please follow us on Twitter. I promise not to bombard you with irrelevant messages. We recently announced that we will use Twitter to let you know about opportunities to work with SQA (every vacancy will now be publicised via Twitter) and we also use it to let you know about events and new materials that might help you deliver SQA awards.

Teachers are busy people and Twitter ensures that we are brief and to the point. It's also available on PC, tablets and smartphones, so you can keep up-to-date on the daily commute via your phone.

Commenting on posts

One of the great features of a blog is the facility to provide comments and create discussions. But this feature has been rarely used on this blog and the few comments that are posted are invariably spam. So, this afternoon, I have enabled the verification feature on comments so that whenever anyone provides a comment they will have to enter a designated word to prove that they are human (and not machine generated). If this doesn't help to cut down the spam, I will remove the comment facility.

I hope that this does not deter anyone from providing comments. Although it is under-used, it has tremendous potential for generating discussions.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Priorities for 2013

We have a team meeting once each month (the first Monday of the month) and we had our first one of 2013 yesterday afternoon.

The main discussion point was our priorities for 2013. We agreed that the key tasks are:

There are lots of other things to do (such as commencing the review of HNC/D Information Technology) but the above tasks will take priority since a lot of centres are awaiting their completion.

You can follow the progress of the review of HN awards via the dedicated blog.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Centre satisfaction survey

The team met this afternoon to discuss the results from the recent survey about your satisfaction with the service that we provide.

Overall the results were positive again. We were pleased that you liked the range of qualifications (almost 100%) and the quality of the qualifications (over 80%). More than 90% were happy with the quality of communications. I was particularly pleased that you think that we're polite and courteous (only 2% thought otherwise).

The two main areas of improvement are the way we select people to work with us, and the quality of the teaching and learning material that we produce. Regarding the first point we will try to ensure a fair distribution of work in the coming year. We do try to ensure that we appoint an appropriate mix of people but we are limited to the people who actually volunteer and, of course, we can't appoint everyone who applies. Regarding the quality of the teaching material, we will try to focus more on that in the coming year. A great deal of new material has been produced in the last year and this will replace a lot of older material, and improve things.

The survey also related to services outwith the control of my team (such as SOLAR and the SQA website) and I will pass the results onto the appropriate teams.

One immediate change we will make is to ensure that every job is advertised on Twitter. So, if you don't already, please follow us on Twitter and I promise that you will get to hear about every job opportunity with SQA (related to my team).

Please contact me at any time if you want to discuss the service we provide.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year

The full team returned to work today. It was particularly nice to welcome Caroline back from her travels in the Far East.

There are two main tasks facing the team in the forthcoming year. Firstly, we have to finalise the revised HNDs, which were recently validated. And secondly, we have to commence the reviews of NC Digital Media Computing and PC Passport. So 2013 looks like it will be as busy as 2012.

Our resolution for the coming year is to further develop our use of social media. The recent satisfaction survey revealed that you were very happy with the quality of communication, mainly thanks to our use of social media such as mailing lists, Twitter and, of course, this blog. But we hope to experiment with new social media tools to see if we can improve it further. Look out for more information in the near future. An immediate target is to increase our Twitter following to 500 so, if you don't already, please follow us on Twitter.

One change that I will implement immediately is to change the way we deal with comments (on this blog). Up until now, anyone could post anything. But I am getting a lot of spam as a result, so I plan to activate comment authentication. The comment facility is rarely used (which is a pity) so I don't imagine that this change will mean much to anyone.

The vocational educational sector is going through a period of huge change so there will be many challenges in the coming year. These challenges will be easier to deal with if we work together. Me and my team are here to help you.