Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Qualification Support Team

The Qualification Support Team (QST) for vocational Computing qualifications meets annually and the next meeting is coming up on 28 May.

The QST, as the name infers, is responsible for supporting qualifications. The members are drawn from colleges, schools and training providers. A key responsibility is to advise SQA about the materials needed to support new or existing awards. The meetings provide an opportunity for you to tell us what you need.

Another important job for the QST is to consider proposed changes to qualifications. During the year we receive many suggestions for changes (such as the addition of an optional unit to a qualification) and this body considers a number of such ideas. If the QST accepts a suggested change then my team impliment that change.

So, the QST is an important forum for many reasons. It gives practitioners a voice about the kinds of support you need and what qualifications look like. Contact Hilary if you want to know more about QSTs or want to volunteer to become a member.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Big data

I've received a few enquiries from centres about SQA qualifications in the area of big data. A centre proposed a new PDA in this field and I am taking that forward with the representative through SQA's normal procedures (which commences with an Ideas Capture Form).

We also plan to develop a couple of generic Higher National Units in this area. These will be called Big Data (at SCQF Level 7) and Data Science (at SCQF Level 8). The Big Data unit would be very generic and suitable for a wide range of Higher National awards, including HNC Computing, but the Data Science unit would be more specialised and suitable for STEM awards (such as HND Computer Science).

The Units will be ready for June. I'll keep you posted about the proposed PDA. Contact Caroline for more information or to see draft versions of the units as they are developed.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Curriculum for Excellence event for universities and colleges

I received an invitation this morning to attend an event for university and college staff, who teach HE awards, which seeks to explain the changes that will be introduced in schools as a result of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). The event will take place on 15 May and will explain the changes in learning and assessment that are taking place and how these changes will effect the students who will be coming to universities and colleges in the future. Although the event covers all STEM subjects, the afternoon workshop is specific to Computing Science.

It sounds like a good event. Your SQA Co-ordinator should have received an e-mail about it, with details of the programme, but you can find out more by contacting or book directly here.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Guide to Assessment

SQA has recently updated and republished its long-established Guide to Assessment [PDF]. The 2014 edition has revised the Guide to bring it up-to-date with the latest advice and definitions. The Guide contains information and advice about:

  • purpose of assessment
  • principles of assessment
  • ensuring validity
  • methods of assessment
  • types of questioning
  • authentication.

Although there is some theory in it (such as the principles of assessment), it also contains practical advice about such things as the stages in developing an assessment and how to authenticate students' work.

I think that it's essential reading for teachers, lecturers, External Verifiers and anyone else involved in the assessment process.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Social Media Group

I previously mentioned that I gave a presentation at a recent internal event about my team's use of social media. After that, I was asked to lead a Short Life Working Group ("Social Media Group") to discuss how best qualification teams can use social media to be more open and transparent. The hope is that a number of qualification teams will start to use social media to engage with stakeholders.

Social media can be great for keeping you up-to-date with general developments (this blog is an example of that) or let you know how a specific development is coming along (such as the HN Review blog) or just to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see what opportunities are available (such as my recent announcement).

SQA wants to encourage openness and transparency so look out for more qualification teams using social media in the near future.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Unit writing

I've spent a lot of time involved in the unit writing process over the last few weeks. Two developments have produced a number of new or revised units: the NC Review and the Digital Passport development.

The Digital Passport units have been particularly challenging. This is because the award is so new -and its contents reflect this. For example, the units on Network Literacy will be first national qualifications in this area from any awarding body in the world. While it's exciting to be part of any world-first project, it also takes a lot of time to try to get it right.

Unit specifications are fairly technical documents, written for professional practitioners, and they come with their own rules and etiquettes. The Guide for Writers defines the rules and provides advice:

Whenever we're looking for people to write units we'll advertise the opportunities in the usual way.