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.