Refreshed HND Computer Science

I recently posted an update about the revision of HND Computer Science. Since then the QDT has finalised the framework. The main change to the qualification is that Managing a Web Server has been replaced by Computer Architecture in the mandatory section of the award. We’ve also tidied the optional units to make them more relevant to the field of …

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NPA/NC Computer Games Development review – Update

The review of the NPA Computer Games Development is progressing well. The units have all been written and validated. The next stage is house styling and operationalising the units. This should be done within the next few weeks. All revised units should be available for delivery by end March.

No changes have been made to the titles of the units. …

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HNC/D Technologies in Business is now live

The HNC/D Information Technology (2006) review is now completed. The HN IT will be replaced by GN5N 15 HNC Technologies in Business and GN5P 16 HND Technologies in Business and finish in 2021 (HNC)/2022 (HND).

The following units have been developed and are now available on the SQA website:

HT9F 35 Database Server Administration / HT9G 34 Network Security Concepts / HT9H 34  …

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New CPD events for lecturers

I’ve previously mentioned the Digital Skills Partnership (DSP), which provides free CPD to college and university lecturers in areas of emerging technology.

The DSP is offering more (free) training this Spring. It will cover two topics: user experience (UX) and secure software. The events will take place throughout March in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

I attended one of the previous events (on data science) and enjoyed it a great deal, so I can highly recommend the …

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Computing Conference

The annual Computing Conference took place on Friday at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow. There was a good turnout, with over 50 people in attendance. I was pleased to see so many teachers find time to attend, perhaps reflecting the growing importance of vocational Computing awards in Scottish schools.

The event was a mix of information, updates and keynotes. They keynotes …

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Support materials for NPA Cyber Security

The development team for this project met on Saturday. It’s been a while since I updated you on how things are going, so this seems like a good time to do that.

We’re developing a range of teaching and learning material including:

Teacher’s Guide
Learners’ Notes
practical activities (linked to Learners’ Notes)
Formative assessments
YouTube channel
List of resources.

The Teachers’ Guide will help new (and existing) teachers prepare for, and deliver, the NPAs — including advice about what you need to get started, what software you will require and how best to teach the awards. The Learners’ Notes will be self-contained notes on all of the topics within the units. Three sets of notes will be produced – one for each strand in the award (Data Security, Digital Forensics and Ethical Hacking). Each set of notes will be multi-level (covering Levels 4, 5 and 6) but each level will be clearly designated in the notes. This will permit learners to “read on” if they wish.The notes will also link to formative questions on each topic to permit learners to consolidate their learning before moving on to the next topic.

The material is coming along well. Complete draft versions of the Learners’ Notes are almost ready, as is the …

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CyberFirst Girls Competition is back for 2018

CyberFirst is a key part of the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme. It covers a broad range of activities, which includes a girls only competition. Young girls and women don’t often consider a career in cyber security, which means that industry is missing out on a lot of young talented people. This competition is a great start to …

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HND Computer Science QDT

The Qualification Development Team for HND Computer Science had its third meeting on Saturday.

The aim of the meeting was to decide how to take things forward.The first QDT meeting was held last June and since then we have made considerable progress with the revised framework. But more recently there was some disagreement about the precise nature of the revised award. More specifically, about how much computer science should be included.That resulted in a delay to the development.

We’re planning on commencing the review of the other HNs this year (HNC Computing, HND Technical Support and HND Networking) – making it more difficult to justify significant changes to HND Computer Science at this time (since it will also be reviewed as part of this “big review”).

So, we decided on a half way house. We will make changes to the optional units within the current HND Computer Science but leave the mandatory units alone. And we will restrict the changes to the options too. The changes might be more than a “tweak” but, perhaps, not much more.

We’re hoping to do this rapidly so that the …

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NPAs Digital Media – Subject page LIVE

The subject page for the revised NPAs in Digital Media at SCQF Level 4 (GN59 44) and SCQF Level 5 (GN58 45) is now live and can be accessed via the SQA website. These awards have a hierarchical structure across the two levels, allowing learners to mix-and-match units and facilitating bi-level teaching.

The NPAs in Digital Media are a revision of the NPA Digital Media Basics (G9FD 44) and Digital Media Editing (G9FF 45). The ‘old’ awards will enter into their lapsing period on 31/07/2018 and will finish on 31/07/2021.

You can access all relevant information regarding the NPAs Digital …

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Computing Conference 2018 – you can book now

Our annual Computing Conference 2018 will take place on Friday, 26 January, 10:00 – 15:30 with registration at 9:30am, in Radisson Blu Hotel Glasgow.

The event will be of interest to college lecturers and school teachers – or anyone with an interest in vocational qualifications.

The event will include an update on SQA Computing qualifications and external verification. There are also networking opportunities. The focus, as …

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NPA Web Design – Subject page LIVE

As announced in a post before the Christmas break, the subject page for the revised NPA Web Design (GN57 45), at SCQF Level 5, was being set up.  I can now confirm that the subject page is live and can be accessed via the SQA website. The subject page for the revised NPA Digital Media at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 will follow shortly.

The NPA Web Design is a revision of the NPA Web Design Fundamentals (G8HD 45). …

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Consultant FAQ

Happy New Year to all our readers from the team! We hope that you had a nice holiday.

We’ve put together a short list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about working with us. You can find it here. We did this because we are sometimes asked why we chose someone – or, more commonly, why we didn’t choose someone. The FAQ tries to explain our selection process (among other questions).

We try to be as transparent as possible in the way we go about advertising jobs and selecting people to fill them but I appreciate that we don’t always communicate that as well as we might. Hopefully, the …

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Merry Christmas from the team

Emma, Helen and I would like to wish you a nice holiday when it comes. We stop today until Wednesday, 3 January. But, in the meantime, you can contact us in the usual way.

It’s been a good year for the team. It started with the validation of HNC Data Analytics, followed later in the year with the validation of HNC/ …

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Digital Skills Partnership event

I attended the Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) event on “Data Science, machine learning and AI” at City of Glasgow College last week.

The DSP is a new collaboration between universities and colleges to provide CPD to lecturers in Computer Science. The Chief Technology Officer of an informatics company gave an interesting talk about how business can use data science and AI, and also discussed how things are likely to develop in the future. There was a good attendance at the event (mostly from universities) and I personally learned a lot.

SQA has a number of qualifications in the fields of data science and …

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Dip. in Dig. App. Support – Framework Update

An amendment to the framework of the Diploma in Digital Application Support at SCQF level 6 (GL2K 46) was recently approved (13 December 2017). The amendment is as follows:

Addition of Unit H3AH 04 Investigating and Defining Customer Requirements for IT and Telecoms Systems 2 to Group B1 of the framework.

This change should appear on the SQA website in the near future. You …

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Unit writing for HNC Cyber Security

The team that will be responsible for writing the units that are part of the new HNC Cyber Security met yesterday in Glasgow. There are 19 people in the team, with a good mix of the new (to unit writing) and the experienced. There is also an interesting mix of backgrounds – including people from the school and training sectors (as well as, of course, the college sector). I was particularly pleased to see school teachers get involved in the development of HNCs.

The team will be responsible for writing new units in a number of areas such as:

Social Engineering
Internet of Things
Penetration Testing
Scripting for Security
Securing Network Devices.

Yesterday’s event served two purposes: (1) to train the writers; and (2) to get the writing process underway. I thought that the event went …

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EV meeting

Once a year, the External Verifier (EV) team, led by the Senior External Verifier, meet to ensure that they all apply the same standards when they visit centres. There was a “standardisation” meeting in Glasgow today.

Me and my team attend these meetings to provide an update on the qualification developments that have taken place over the last year so that the EVs are aware of these changes – and what they might face when they visit centres. It’s always a good, productive meeting and today was no exception.

The current EV team is an experienced (and friendly) mix of teachers, lecturers and trainers. We’ve recently added a few new EVs to the team and today was especially useful to them. We’re always looking for new verifiers so drop me a line if you’re interested in joining the team. It’s an interesting (and paid) job …

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Diplomas in IT & Telecoms Professionals

I’m a member of a working group that is looking at replacement qualifications for the existing Diploma in IT & Telecoms Professionals, which exists at SCQF Levels 5, 6 and 8. The group met this morning to look at the replacement qualifications.

Tech Partnership is proposing to replace these qualifications with three new awards:

Diploma in IT Infrastructure
Diploma in IT Solution Development

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Group Award codes: Dig. Media and Web Design

The revised NPAs in Digital Media (SCQF Levels 4 and 5) and Web Design (SCQF Level 5) have now been coded and are available to centres. The awards were validated in November, without conditions, which reflects the hard work that went into this revision. The new codes are:

GN59 44 – Digital Media (SCQF Level 4)

GN58 45 – Digital Media (SCQF Level 5)

GN57 45 – Web Design (SCQF Level 5)

These awards will replace Digital Media Basics (G9FD 44), Digital Media Editing (G9FF 45) and Web Design Fundamentals (G8HD 45). However, in order to allow centres to familiarise themselves with the new awards, the ‘old’ awards will still be available for some time.

The units for these awards were published in October and you can access the Unit Specifications via the SQA website.

A subject page is currently being developed for each of these awards and will be available soon on the SQA website.

If you have any queries regarding these awards, you can have a look at the FAQ for Digital Media or the FAQ for Web …

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HN design and assessment

I attended a meeting yesterday afternoon about possible changes to Higher National Qualifications (HNQs). SQA has been considering ways of reducing assessment within HNQs for some time and the purpose of yesterday’s meeting was to consult with internal staff about some of the possible changes.

People, generally, liked the HN unit specification so that’s unlikely to change. But there may be ways of encouraging more holistic assessment. The Graded Unit specification appears to have more issues so this may be (slightly) changed to improve its consistency and clarity. There is general agreement that more use of sampling (of evidence requirements) would reduce the assessment burden so it’s likely that this aspect of assessment will be promoted.

Nothing critical is going to change. But the team leading this initiative plan to write new guidance on writing Higher National units (there will …

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