Friday, 12 July 2013

New verification groups

I've mentioned on a couple of occasions the Royal Society report on Computing in schools. One of the key recommendations from that report was to do with naming the subject. I subsequently stated, after internal and external consultation, that SQA would adopt the nomenclature.

So, today, I instigated changing the names of the verification groups to follow the advice in the Report. There are currently two Computing verification groups:
  • 357 Computing
  • 358 Information Systems.
This will become three groups:
  • xxx Computer Science
  • xxx Digital Literacy
  • xxx Information Technology.
Once these new groups have been established, I will assign units to each group and then assign External Verifiers to each group.

The new nomenclature is clearer and better reflects the reality of the industry. It separates computer science from the other areas and makes a distinction between ICT skills (now "digital literacy") and technical skills (now "information technology"). I think that that's a better fit for my portfolio of awards.

Please contact me if you want more information about these changes.

Academic skills

You might have noticed that we plan to formally introduce "academic skills" into HN programmes through the Alternative Assessment project. The QDT for the NC Review also wants to do this for the revised NC awards, which are under development. We plan to make an "Academic Skills" unit mandatory at SCQF Level 6 and an option at SCQF Level 5.

The sort of things that would appear in these units include:
  • referencing
  • structured writing
  • researching
  • plagiarism
  • study skills
  • selecting sources
  • learning styles
  • study skills
  • time management.
It would be interesting to know your views on this and what skills should be included in these units. Either use the comment facility or contact Hilary directly.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Milestone reached

The team recently reached a milestone in its use of social media. Our Twitter account now has more than 500 followers. It's taken a while to get there (we started to use Twitter in 2009) but it has slowly evolved into an important communication channel for the team.

We don't use Twitter for vanity. You won't find our opinions on it or advice about how best to teach. But we do use it to share important information about the work of the team. This might be news about new qualifications or news about new support materials that will help you in your professional practice. The attraction of using social media is its inherent transparency and fairness (anyone can find out what's happening and get involved).

We have plans to use it more. As well as important announcements, which would normally be blogged here and shared via Twitter, Twitter is also great for small snippets of information that are too small to warrant a blog post but ideal for tweeting. In future, we plan to tweet more information about developments, opportunities to work with SQA, and other relevant information. So, if you don't already, please join the more than 500 people who currently follow the team on Twitter.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Unit writing training

Both the NC Review and the PC Passport Review are going well, and we have reached the stage, in both developments, when we need to get down to unit writing. So the QDT members, for both reviews, met on Friday for some training.

We have now carried out consultation for the awards, developed frameworks, and assigned unit writers and vetters to the component units, and we want to use the summer to write the unit specifications, so it was vital to get the training done before too much of the summer passes.

The event went well. I pointed out that unit writing is neither a science nor an art -- there are some rules to follow but there is also a creative element that goes into a good unit specification. Ultimately, the writer's role is to set a national standard, and help teachers and lecturers understand and deliver a national curriculum.

We hope to have the draft units completed by the end of September, when we will share them with you. In the meantime, please contact Hilary if you want to know more about either development.