Thursday, 16 April 2015

Goodbye world

This blog has been going since 2004 and, over time, I think, it has proven to be a success, with around 100 unique readers per day. It's become an important source of regular information to centres about vocational Computing qualifications.

SQA wants to make greater use of social media, and we think subject-based blogs, like this one, are a good way of doing that. So, we are extending the blogs to 10 subject areas (including Computing). We're going to use WordPress for this so I will be migrating from Blogger to this new platform (Wordpress). Starting Monday (20 April) all new posts will be done on this new service. You might want to update your bookmarks and news feeds accordingly.

The new blog will cover all sectors (not just vocational Computing). The contributors will include my team, the school team and the CfE team. So there will be posts about all Computing qualifications.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog over the years, and I hope you join me on the new service, which can be found here:

Monday, 13 April 2015

Computational thinking guidance

I recently mentioned that I planned to put together some advice about how computational thinking could be included within vocational Computing awards. I've now done that.

The advice has been given to Qualification Development Teams so that it can be considered when they are devising awards.

Good practical skills require good under-pinning knowledge, and computational thinking ensures that skills can be transferred from one technology to another, which is vitally important in the computing sector.

Social network for Computing

Some time ago, I tried to set up a page on Facebook for SQA Computing. It didn't work. The main problem was that it tried to link my social (real) profile with this (work) page. And, as you know, Facebook doesn't like people to have more than one account (on the basis that there is only one "real" you).

I attended a Microsoft event last week, part of which focussed on "corporate social networks". Microsoft's offering is Yammer. Facebook is piloting Facebook at Work. I suspect we are witnessing the start of something significant.

I have created an SQA Computing network on Yammer. This network will cover all (vocational) Computing qualifications offered by SQA. At present, it is invitation only. I'll be sending invitations to some people (including the Lead Person Network) in the near future. If you receive one, I would appreciate if you would accept it and check the service out. If you would like an invitation, please contact Helen.

This blog has passed the test of time but never achieved much interaction (very few comments were ever posted). Maybe a social network would address that problem. The blog will continue, of course, but the social network might improve interaction.

Friday, 10 April 2015

PC Passport and Office 365

The QDT for PC Passport visited the Microsoft offices in Edinburgh yesterday. Microsoft had kindly invited the team to look at the latest version of Microsoft Office (Office 365) and I was pleased to accept the invitation.

PC Passport aims to cover the same territory as Office 365 -- word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and databases. I was keen that the revised award is fully compatible with the latest version of the suite. It was an interesting afternoon. Office 365 has lots of new features compared to previous versions, particularly relating to collaboration and social.

The event was timeous. The QDT is currently writing the component units. We will ensure that these new features can be delivered within the revised version of PC Passport. SQA awards are product and vendor neutral but we try to ensure that they are as relevant and vocational as possible by ensuring that the encompass industry standards. So, no one will have to use Office 365 to deliver PC Passport but, if you choose to use it, you will find the revised award is fully compatible.

You can download the revised qualification FAQ here. Or contact Helen for more information about the current or revised awards. The revised award will be available to centres from January.

Office 365 is free to every school pupil, school teacher, college student and college lecturer in Scotland. Contact Alan Wood for more information.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Qualification Support Team for vocational Computing awards

The Qualification Support Team (QST) for vocational Computing qualifications met on 19th March in the SQA Glasgow Office. This was a combined meeting to cover both Advanced (HN/PDA) and Non-advanced (NPA/NC/NU) qualifications.

The QST discussed the proposals from the SQA centres and the following changes to the existing qualifications have been approved:  
  1. Add F3GB11 Communication and F3GF 11 Numeracy to GC8R 45 NC Computer Games Development as optional units
  2. Add H17W 34 Software Development: Developing Small Scale Standalone Applications as an optional unit to G9NX 15 HNC Computer Games Development
  3. Add D85F 34 Using Software Applications Packages as an optional unit to GF3E 15 HNC Computing, GG7D 16 HND Computer Science, GG7C 16 HND Computing; Software Development and GG7F 16 HND Computing: Technical Support
  4. Add D75X 34 Information Technology: Applications Software 1 as an optional unit to GF3E 15 HNC Computing, GG7D 16 HND Computer Science, GG7C 16 HND Computing; Software Development and GG7F 16 HND Computing: Technical Support
  5. Add H173 34 Developing Software: Introduction as an optional unit to G8CX 16 HND Information Technology
  6. Add DH35 34 Computing: Planning as an optional to HNC/D Computing awards
The QST also approved the production of a new Assessment Support Pack (ASP) for D75X 34 Information Technology: Applications Software 1.
The QST emphasized the importance of including a Testing unit into HNC/D Computing award to teach learners how to read codes and design patterns. SQA will look into the options of developing a new unit or using an existing one.
SQA updated the QST with the recent qualification development. The QST was very keen on the development for NPAs in Cyber Security at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 and suggested HNC/D Cyber Security to be developed to provide a natural progression route.
Caroline and I will take forward these action. Contact me about the non-advanced changes and contact Caroline about the advanced changes.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

NPA Digital Literacy

The Qualification Development Team (QDT) for the NPA in Digital Literacy met for the second time last Thursday. We had already agreed the structure of the award so the purpose of this meeting was the discuss the contents of the component units.

We've made a lot of changes to the old award, which focussed on IT, numeracy and communications. The updated award has more of a focus on computing skills, and includes social media and online safety.

We made considerable progress with the Purpose, Outcomes and Core Skills in each unit. We're now at the stage of looking for volunteers (from the QDT) to write the units and support materials.

I updated the FAQ for this award after the meeting. You should find most of your questions answered in this document.

This revised award will be available to centres from January 2016. Please contact Helen for more information.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Monday, 30 March 2015

Launch events for NPAs

I attended a meeting on Friday to discuss our plans to launch three important new or revised awards. These are:
  1. NPA Digital Passport
  2. NPA PC Passport
  3. NPA Cyber Security.
We plan to launch Cyber Security around September time, perhaps to coincide with the Scottish Learning Festival. This award will be available to centres from August. We plan to have a combined event for Digital Passport and PC Passport since these awards are "cousins". Digital Passport will be available to all centres from July (it is currently being piloted) and PC Passport (revised) will be available from January next year. The launch event for these awards will be held later this year.

Please contact Helen for more information about any of these awards.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

HNC/D Computer Games Development

Some time ago, we asked Gillian Flockart, of Dundee & Angus College, to scope the changes needed to the current HNC/D Computer Games Development award. Me and Caroline met with Gillian this morning to discuss her findings.

Gillian reported that centres are pretty happy with the existing qualification, and that most of the changes should be small, such as the addition of some new units and minor changes to some existing units. We discussed, at some length, the role of maths within the award.

We are now going to move onto the development phase. Gillian is going to lead the development. So we're looking for QDT members. Please contact Caroline if you are interested in participating in this development. I am hoping for one face-to-face meeting (most likely in May) when we would discuss the changes and assign people to the tasks.

The new award will be available to centres from August 2016. Contact Caroline for further information about this development.

Resource lists

We've made two recent changes to the way that we develop new qualifications. We now produce FAQs for all new awards, which evolve as the qualification itself develops. And we also produce resource lists for new awards.

A resource list is a list of online and offline resources that can be used to deliver the new qualification. There is normally one resource list per unit. Each list will contain: YouTube videos, websites, Wikipedia articles, podcasts, online quizes, e-books and other online resources, as well as some offline resources such as text books and articles. The key thing is that these are linked to specific outcomes and performance criteria so that teachers know precisely where (and how) they can be used.

I normally ask the QDT to populate these lists (voluntarily) but, occasionally, the lead developer (or another member of the QDT) takes a more pro-active role.

Although we've only done a few, they have proven to be popular with teachers and lecturers. The Digital Passport lists were well liked by the pilot centres. Here is the one we created for Social Media Literacy (SCQF 4).

So, look out for resource lists in the future.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Computational thinking

"Computational thinking" is an important part of the new Computing Science qualifications with the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). But it's not something that is (overtly) prominent in vocational awards. So I am researching the various definitions of the term to come up with something that can be used by my Qualification Development Teams (QDTs) when they are designing new qualifications. There are lots of similar, but different, definitions around. One of the best is the one from the Royal Society/BCS [PDF]. But there are other good ones too. The aim is to come up with guidance on how best to ensure that this vital concept is embedded within vocational awards.

Friday, 20 March 2015

New unit on cyber security

As you may know, we're currently developing a suite of awards in cyber security. We recently received a request from Police Scotland to develop an introductory unit to cover the fundamentals of the subject, suitable for everyone.

Unsurprisingly, we're calling the new National Unit: Cyber Security Fundamentals. It will be a single credit unit at SCQF Level 4, covering the basic knowledge and skills that everyone should know about the subject area. The contents will include: online safety, data security, hacking, digital forensics and cyber threats.

I hope to have the new unit available to centres from August. It will be added to appropriate group awards (such as the NC Computing with Digital Media) and available stand-alone. But the representative of Police Scotland made it clear that he felt the unit should be taught to everyone.

In the meantime, you can see the current version of the unit hereContact Helen for more information about this unit.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Qualifications Support Team

The Qualifications Support Team (QST) for vocational Computing awards met this morning. The QST is responsible for ensuring that centres are supported when they deliver SQA awards. The remit includes:
  1. delivery issues
  2. assessment issues
  3. revisions to awards
  4. support materials
  5. monitoring uptake
  6. monitoring quality issues.
It was a good meeting, with over 10 people in attendance.

One of the most important jobs it carries out is to consider requests for changes to qualifications structures. This usually comes from suggestions from colleges about possible additions to qualification frameworks.

The QST is not a talk shop. It makes important decisions about a range of things. We're always looking for more members so please contact Helen if you want to find out more about joining the team. We are particularly looking for representatives from schools and training centres.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

NPA Cyber Security

The Qualification Development Team (QDT) for the new National Progression Award (NPA) in Cyber Security met yesterday for an all-day event to discuss the contents of the new awards.

There was a good attendance (over 10 people attended), which allowed us to break into teams to look at each "strand" in the awards (data security, ethical hacking and digital forensics). We focussed on the purpose and outcomes in each unit, and made a lot of progress. We have already decided on the structure of the awards (see the qualification FAQ) so the next stage is to get down to writing the units. I asked for volunteers (to write the units) at yesterday's event. In total, there will be nine new units (see the FAQ for details).

We're making good progress. We're aiming to have the award validated in July and available to centres by August. We've already had a lot of interest in this development and expect several centres to offer it next session.

Contact Scott Hunter (the lead developer) for information about the contents of the award or contact Helen Zhang (Qualifications Officer) for information about the development or to find out how to get involved.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

New Senior External Verifier for Computing

I am pleased to let you know that Gillian Leitch of Clyde College has been appointed Senior External Verifier (SEV) for Computing. Many of you will know Gillian who has been teaching Computing, and serving as an EV, for many years. Gillian will replace David Drennan as SEV. I will be sorry to lose David who has done a great job over a long period of time. The SEV role is changing too, becoming more of a leadership role than a hands-on role. Gillian commences her new role on 1 August.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

NPA Computer Refurbishment

Some time ago, we received a request to develop a new National Progression Award based on refurbishing and recycling computers. It was an interesting idea so we decided to take it forward. Me and Helen had our first meeting with the lead developer this morning. Many of you will know June McCamlie from her teaching days (she is currently an External Verifier). I've asked June to lead this work.

The NPA will consist of two (new) single credit National Units at SCQF Level 4. The Unit will be:
  1. Refurbishing & Recycling a Computer
  2. Setting up a Computer.
The Units will be based on an existing syllabus, currently in use in some international centres. We hope to have the NPA available to centres (including Scottish centres) from June.

Please contact Helen for more information.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

HNC/HND Interactive Media - Consultation Survey

As you are aware, we are in the process of reviewing HNC/D Interactive Media and we are now at the stage to consult with the sector on the proposed changes to the awards.

I would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire by clicking here

You can find out more information relating to the development from a previous blog posting here

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the proposed revised awards, please contact Fiona Murnin who is the Lead Developer for this review.

Thanks in anticipation.

New HN Digital Skills unit

I have recently had a number of requests from other subject areas about a good, general purpose Higher National Unit in the area of digital skills. This reflects the growing importance of digital skills across all sectors. There are some general purpose IT units in my portfolio (such as IT Applications) but they a little long in the tooth and don't cover areas such as social media and information literacy.

As a result of those requests, I commissioned a new HN Unit entitled Digital Skills at SCQF Level 7. This Unit will be suitable for inclusion in a wide range of HN awards. The aim is that the unit covers essential computing/IT skills.

A draft version of the Unit has been written.

I am currently consulting with colleagues to get their feedback on the Unit but please let me know if you have any comments.

Monday, 9 March 2015

PC Passport review

The QDT for PC Passport met for the second time on Saturday in the SQA offices in Glasgow. We got down to discussing the contents of the new award and managed to (mostly) compose the outcomes for all of the units.

I've updated the FAQ in the light of the meeting.

We've now decided on the qualification title, structure and outcomes. The next stage is to write the Group Award Specification and the component units.

As you'll see (from the FAQ) we've went back to basics -- simple structure and dedicated units for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and databases. But don't think that it's old fashioned since we aim to make the qualification reflect the latest productivity software such as Office 365 with a heavy cloud/collaborative focus.

We're ahead of schedule with this development, which I hope to have available to centres by January 2016. Contact Helen for more information.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lead developers

One of the strengths of the way SQA develops awards is the involvement of practitioners in the qualification development process. We use practising teachers and lecturers to contribute to the contents of the new or revised qualifications. A key role in this process is that of lead developer. This person is responsible for, effectively, devising the qualification (in consultation with other QDT members). We usually select a teacher or lecturer for this role.

Right now, we have David McDade (Kelvin College) leading the NPA Digital Literacy review, Frank Frame (retired teacher) leading the PC Passport review, Scott Hunter (Kyle Academy) leading the Cyber Security development, and Fiona Murnin (New College Lanarkshire) leading the HNC/D Interative Media review. We hope that this not only ensures that the qualifications are fit for purpose but also gives centres a sense of ownership of the awards.

Contact me if you want to know more about the role of lead developer.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

PC Passport FAQ

As you may know, we are currently reviewing PC Passport. The development is making good progress. We create a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for new or revised awards. Here is the FAQ for PC Passport.

It can be viewed here. The FAQ will be updated from time to time so that it contains the latest information about the development.

Contact Helen for more information about PC Passport.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New Units in Big Data and Data Science

As you will have read in a previous blog posting, we have been busy developing two new HN units in the area of Big Data at SCQF Level 7 and Data Science at SCQF Level 8.

Both units are now complete and available for download via the SQA website.

I am currently liaising with the Qualification Support Team (QST) to establish which frameworks the units should be part of and once this has been decided, they will be added as optional units.  If you are interested in delivering the Units and would like them as part of a particular group award, please get in touch with me directly and I can feed this into the QST for discussion.

Each unit will have an Assessment Support Pack (ASP) - both ASPs are under development and will be available to centres by May 2015.

You can view the published units by clicking on the links below:

Big Data (SCQF Level 7)
Data Science (SCQF Level 8)

NPA Cyber Security development

The Qualification Development Team (QDT) for the NPA in Cyber Security met for the first time yesterday afternoon in the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow.

There has been a lot of interest in this development since it was first announced and there was an excellent turn-out at the meeting, with representatives of schools, colleges, universities and employers in attendance.

After I explained the qualification development process, and the role of the QDT, we got down to business. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the title, nature, levels and contents of the awards. We made some important decisions. The awards will be called "Cyber Security"; they will be developed at three levels (SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6); the introductory level will be fairly generic and the advanced level will be more specialised. We hope that the awards will attract a lot of learners, particularly young women, and we aim to make them as interesting and engaging as we can.

The next stage is to define the precise structures of the award (at each of the three levels). We made some progress on this but we need to finalise the frameworks.

We hope to have the new qualification available to centres from August. In the meantime, keep your eye on the qualification FAQ, which will be maintained throughout the qualification process.

Please contact Helen for more information about this development.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Digital skills report

The UK government published a report yesterday on the need to improve digital skills. The House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills published a report entitled Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future. A BBC article summarises the main findings and recommendations, which include:

  • the need to ensure everyone leaves school with basic digital literacy
  • the need to attract more women into computing
  • the need to improve intermediate and high-end digital skills
  • more emphasis on digital skills within Modern Apprenticeships.

The report claims that the UK is at a "tipping point" with digital skills. One that will determine the shape of the future UK economy. I was particularly interested in the comment about the importance of medium and high level digital skills since this is often an area that is overlooked.

The Computing portfolio of qualifications already has a lot of awards in digital literacy but I will look at it again once I have read the report in full. I hope that schools and colleges take the opportunity to check that their programmes address the issues raised in the report.

The full report can be downloaded here [PDF]. Contact Helen for more information about digital literacy qualifications.

Monday, 16 February 2015

NPA Digital Literacy FAQ

I previously mentioned that the QDT for this award met for the first time last week. I have now created a FAQ for the revised award. You can read (and download) it here or simply scroll the embedded version below.

It's early days in this development but this FAQ will be updated as our thoughts solidify so please keep an eye on it in the coming weeks and months. By the end of the development, it will contain all the essential information that you need.

Contact Helen if there is anything you want to ask that's not answered in the FAQ.

Friday, 13 February 2015

NPA Digital Literacy

I mentioned previously that we were about to review the NPA in Digital Literacy, which was first introduced in 2007. The first meeting of the Qualification Development Team (QDT) met yesterday.

It was a good meeting. We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the current award, the likely demographics of the revised award, and the knowledge and skills needed within the new qualification.

The QDT decided to retain the current title on the basis that there is a strong focus in digital literacy in schools and colleges. I was told that there is also a dearth of qualifications at this level (SCQF Level 3). But the current award's focus on numeracy and communications needs to be changed to make it focus more on computer skills.

The revised award would focus on computer skills, digital skills and software skills. It would be a simple, broad-based introduction to computing, which would permit learners to acquire basic knowledge and skills, and progress to further qualifications in the area. A suggested structure was:

  1. Computer Basics
  2. Digital Skills (new)
  3. Using Applications (new)

The current award has low uptake but the QDT felt that there was a real need for a qualification in this area at this level and that the revised award could prove to be popular.

Please contact Helen if you want to know more about this development.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Cyber Security awards are in the news

Following the announcement by the Deputy First Minister last week about the new qualifications in Cyber Security, Holyrood Magazine ran an article on the project yesterday.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Cyber Security qualifications

The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, announced the development of a new suite of qualifications in cyber security at yesterday's Cyber Security 2015 event, held in Edinburgh. SQA will be developing a number of National Progression Awards in this area at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6.

It's an exciting development. It will be the first qualification of its kind (aimed at school pupils) in Europe. The hope is that it will engender an interest in computer science among young people that will lead to more of them choosing this as a career. There is a particular skills gap in information security with many unfilled posts and this problem will get much worse in the coming years. We hope that the qualification will attract both boys and girls. It will be suitable for anyone, even those without a background in computing.

We have already formed a Qualification Development Team, comprised of representatives of schools, colleges, universities, industry and professional bodies. We aim to have the qualification available to schools and colleges for August (this year). Please contact Helen for more information.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Heads of Computing event

The Heads of Computing event took place on Friday at the Stirling Highland Hotel. This annual event has taken place for over 20 years now and is an important date in the team's calendar.

It went well. The agenda this year, I thought, was a particularly good mix of stuff-you-need-to-know and interesting presentations about such things as the future of assessment and cyber security.

My own presentation provided an update on qualifications (a standing item on the agenda) plus a short presentation on the new NPA in Digital Passport.

The one disappointing thing about the day was the attendance. The event normally attracts 50-70 people and we got just over half of that on Friday. I think that there were many reasons for that, the main one being the new regionalised college structures means that there are far fewer Heads of Computing.

I took the opportunity to promote the new Lead Person Network for Computing, which I hope will become a useful communication channel in the coming year.

Please contact Caroline if you want to know more about Firday's event or get a copy of the presentations.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Gender problem persists

The Times ran an article last week about the continued problems attracting women to STEM subjects at university. The figures for Computer Science were particularly bleak, with 87% of entrants last year being male, a rise of 2% since 2008. The good news is that the total number of people doing Computer Science at university has risen dramatically, up almost 50% in the last seven years. But the gender problem appears to be getting worse. There has been numerous initiatives to address this problem over the last decade but the figures appear to show that none have worked.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

PC Passport QDT meeting

The first meeting of the Qualification Development Team (QDT) for PC Passport met on Saturday in Stirling. It was a good meeting. There were representatives of the college and school sectors.

We made a lot of progress in a short time. There was a consensus among the group that we wanted to go back to basics with the award, which would mean simplifying the structure and refocusing on application packages. Application packages have changed a lot since PC Passport was first introduced in 2004 and the new award would reflect this, with an emphasis on web apps, cloud storage and group collaboration. Products like Microsoft's Office 365 and Google's Apps for Work illustrate the type of software that the new award will focus on. This back-to-basics approach will mean that there will be separate National Units on word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases. Topics such as file structures, Internet skills and cyber security will be embedded within the application units rather than separated out, which means that they will be taught in context. We will also reduce the amount of assessment so that it takes up much less time.

The QDT will meet again, in the near future, to brainstorm the contents of the revised qualification. It's not too late to join the Team. We're particularly looking for school, employer and training representatives. Contact Helen if you want to know more.

We hope to have the revised qualification available to centres from January 2016.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Review of HNC/D Interactive Media

I announced the review of HNC/D Interactive Media some time ago. Since then, we've created a Qualification Development Team (QDT), which has now met on three occasions. One of those meetings was held today in the SQA offices in Glasgow. Fiona Murnin (of New College Lanarkshire) is leading the development.

The development is progressing well. Fiona has created  frameworks for three new awards;
  1. HNC Digital Design & Web Development
  2. HND Web Development
  3. HND Digital Design.
Today's meeting was to discuss the draft frameworks. It went well. There was general agreement about her proposals. One of the (many) things that I liked about the proposed stuctures was their flexibility. Fiona has given centres lots of choice with her options.

The frameworks will be revised in the light of today's meeting and Fiona will continue to consult with stakeholders, which include college representatives, university faculty and employers. But I am hoping to have a complete (draft) version of the Group Award Specification available soon so that we can progress to unit writing.

Please contact Caroline if you want to know more about this development or contact Fiona if you want to know more about the contents of the new awards. And, of course, we're always looking for willing helpers.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Update on Lead Person Network

I've mentioned the Lead Person Network (LPN) previously. The Network now has 28 members, covering every college in Scotland. I appreciate that this is, in fact, more than the total number of (new) colleges in Scotland but, for the time being, some colleges have been permitted more than one representative. The FAQ covers the most common questions about the Lead Person Network.

In time, I'm sure that the LPN will serve a very useful service as a conduit between SQA and colleges. It won't replace the usual means of communications (which include this blog) but it would be worth finding out who your lead person is.

Contact Helen if you have any questions about the LPN for Computing.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

PC Passport review

We are now proceeding with the review of PC Passport. This was "parked" to permit the team to focus on Digital Passport but we're now in a position to get on with this review. To that end, we've arranged a meeting on Saturday, 24 January in Stirling to discuss the nature of the changes required.

It's not too late to get involved. We're particularly looking for representatives of the school and training sectors. Please contact Helen if you want to be involved or simply find out more.

We hope to have the revised version of PC Passport available to centres from August 2016.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Heads of Computing event

The annual event for Heads of Computing in Scottish colleges is taking place on Friday, 30 January in the Stirling Highland Hotel. The agenda has now been finalised and includes some interesting talks from a range of experts.

The event will also update you on some important developments such as the review of HNC/D Interactive Media and NPA PC Passport. It's usually an interesting and informative day so I hope that you can join me and my team. You can get can register here or contact Caroline if you want to know more.

Monday, 12 January 2015

HNC/D Information Technology

We held a meeting this afternoon to discuss the future of the HNC/D IT award. The award is (over)due a review but we had received a number of different ideas about what to do with it so today's meeting was a brain storming session. Representatives of colleges and universities attended.

We had an open discussion about the changes required and made some important decisions. The working title for the revised award is HNC/D Technologies for Business. It will include a number of strands including: computer systems, data management, business processes, data analytics, information securtity, cloud computing and programming. Soft skills will be embedded within the technical units rather than separate units.

It was a productive meeting. The next stage is to form a QDT and get on with developing the award. I expressed my hope that many of the people who came along today would volunteer for the QDT but anyone can join it so please contact Caroline if you are interested. I hope to convene the first meeting of the QDT in the next few weeks.

Digital Passport and PC Passport update

We are piloting a new qualification this year called Digital Passport. It's a National Progression Award (NPA), available at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6. A small number of centres (including schools, colleges and training centres) are offering the award this year to try out the contents and support materials.

We are receiving a lot of enquiries about the award from centres that plan to introduce it next year (session 2015/16). They typically want to know more about the award so that they can offer it from August. We're happy to help. We can supply Group Award information now and and final versions of the assessments will be available from SQA Secure from beginning of February. The qualification FAQ [PDF] provides more information about this or contact Helen who will be happy to help in any way that she can.

Digital Passport was created as part of the PC Passport review, which we are now turning our attention to. Please contact Helen if you want to be involved in this development.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Product Marketing

I met with Karen MacGregor this afternoon. Karen is the new Product Marketing Manager (PMM) with special responsibility for Computing. PMMs are responsible for developing business cases for new (or revised) qualifications. They take suggestions from the ideas capture form right through the a completed business case, after which me and my team take over. Please contact Karen if you have any suggestions or ideas about new awards. I've updated my organisation chart to include Karen.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Welcome back and welcome to Helen

Welcome back after the Christmas holiday. I hope you had a good break. SQA also resumed today.

A new person joined the team today. Helen Zhang is covering Hilary's post while she is on secondment. Helen will be in position until mid-2016. This means that Helen is the person to contact for all non-advanced qualifications. I've updated the organisation chart to show who-does-what.

Helen has worked for SQA since 2010 in a variety of roles, including international work, so she is an experienced member of staff. Helen can be contacted at Those of you coming along to the Heads of Computing event will meet her then.