Maths in Computing

I’ve previously mentioned issues surrounding maths within Computing qualifications. There are some long-term issues, such as the absence of maths as a mandatory component in HND Computer Science, but matters were brought to a head when the Maths team in SQA revised some units, generally lowering their level.

I’ve now formed a short-life working group (SLWG) to look into these …

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NC and NPA Computer Games Development

We’ve had a busy week, kicking off a number of developments. In addition to the NPAs that I recently mentioned, me and Emma also met with the consultants responsible for scoping NC Computer Games Development and NPA Computer Games Development. This means that, at this time, we have commenced the review of the following non-advanced awards:

NPA Computer Games Development (SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6)
NC Computer Games Development (SCQF Levels 5 and 6)
NPA Software Development (SCQF Level 4)
NPA Digital Media Basics (SCQF Level 4)
NPA Digital Media Editing (SCQF Level 5)
NPA Web Design Fundamentals ( …

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Review of NPAs

We have commenced the reviews of some NPAs. These are:

NPA Software Development (SCQF Level 4)
NPA Digital Media Basics (SCQF Level 4)
NPA Digital Media Editing (SCQF Level 5)
NPA Web Design Fundamentals (SCQF Level 5)

Two school teachers are leading these reviews. These awards are particularly popular in Scottish schools. At this time, we are scoping the changes required for each award. …

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Lead Person Network event

The Lead Person Network (LPN) event took place yesterday in the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow. This replaced the annual Heads of Computing event, which had been running for years previously (the one exception being last year).

The event went well. It was the usual mix of updates, keynotes and networking. I was both MC and presenter at the event. My presentation summarised changes to qualifications.

The keynote, from Andy Neagle of Microsoft, was particularly interesting, and the demonstration of virtual reality, by David Renton of West College Scotland, was great fun

David also gave an interesting talk about emerging technologies and how these can be used within SQA qualifications.

Claire Gillespie, from Skills Development Scotland, gave an interesting talk about the Scottish Government’s digital skills strategy.

An important part of the event was to update delegates on curricular changes and we covered a number of recent changes to Computing qualifications, including the recently revised HNC/D Interactive Media (now called HNC/D Digital Design & Web Development), which was explained by Stephen Aitken of City of Glasgow College.

All of the …

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Annual Computing update event

The annual update event takes place on Friday (10 March) at the Radison Hotel in Glasgow. The team will be there to provide updates on a wide range of qualifications and the agenda includes a keynote talk (from Microsoft) and a demonstration of virtual reality. There are still places available so please register online if you want to attend. It’s open to anyone with an interest in vocational education. Contact Helen if you want …

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HNC/D IT review unit writing training

The people who are writing units for the refreshed HNC/D IT (now called HNC/D Technologies in Business) met on Saturday for some training. The meeting was held in SQA’s Glasgow offices.

Some of the writers were old hands and some were brand new. It looks like a good team. There’s always something to learn about unit writing (I’ve …

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HND Computer Science review

I’m pleased to let you know that we have started the review of HND Computer Science. John Sutherland (formerly of Abertay University) is carrying out a scoping exercise to find out what (roughly) needs to be done to the existing award.

Me and Helen met with John yesterday to outline the tasks involved. John has several questions to answer including:

What should be included in an HND in Computer Science?
What do universities expect from students who progress to their degrees?
What skills do employers expect?
Is there a need for an HNC Computer Science?
Is maths essential in any computer science qualification?

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SQA Academy

SQA Academy is the name of the online service that we use to deliver our online learning to SQA staff, appointees (such as markers) and learners. For example, the e-learning material to support Internet Safety is hosted there. We’re also in the process of moving our HN e-learning material to the Academy site.

The Academy team is currently reviewing the …

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Working with centres

Last Friday, we shot a promotional video showing how the team works with centres. Three centres were used as case studies: Kyle Academy which offers the NPA Cyber Security, Dundee & Angus College and its Code Academy, which uses various SQA awards, and Code Clan, which uses the new PDA in Software Development.

These centres were selected as examples of …

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Mathematics within Computing awards

Some time ago, I mentioned that we would be reviewing the role of maths within Computing awards. I’m now in a position to take that forward.

The review was prompted by two things: (1) the re-levelling of existing Maths units; and (2) dissatisfaction with the treatment of maths within Computing qualifications. The Maths team, within SQA, had (provisionally) reviewed a number of units that are used within Computing awards – and, generally, levelled these units down since they were not considered to be sufficiently demanding. Once implemented (these changes were provisional) that would have an impact on several Computing qualifications. The other reason was an on-going disquiet with the ad hoc way maths was treated within Computing awards – with some qualifications having it as a mandatory component and some having it as an option. A particular concern was the lack of maths within HND Computer Science (as a mandatory component).

I plan to form a Short Life Working Group (SLWG) over the next few weeks to look at this. The group will review the entire portfolio and try to find a more consistent treatment of maths. It will also consider the impact of the levelling down of the maths …

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New way of developing qualifications

I recently mentioned that we were working on a new qualification development process. We discussed how we developed qualifications at our last team meeting and agreed that we could do things faster, cheaper and better. So we have came up with new ways of working. This won’t directly affect most people who work with us since it is mostly behind the scenes activities. But centres should see qualifications developed more quickly — 12 months at the maximum, even for major developments. The proof of the pudding is in the eating so we have to actually test these new methods in the real world. The first development to use them will be …

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HNC Data Analytics is published

The new HNC Data Analytics is now published. The subject page can be found here. The Group Award Specification and all the component units are available on the SQA website.

The qualification FAQ containing useful information and links is available here.

We do not develop SOLAR assessment for the qualification at the moment. However, if there is any plan for …

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Updated Internet Safety material

I’m delighted to announce that SQA has, today, published updated learning material covering the revised Internet Safety Award. It seems appropriate that it’s been made available on Safer Internet Day 2017.

The material has been significantly updated to include the latest online threats (such as sexting) and also explains the best ways to protect yourself. It covers the entire National Unit. …

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HND Computer Science scoping

The HND Computer Science GG7D 16 was last developed in 2012 and is now due to review. As Bobby mentioned in his previous post, we will start the scoping exercise first before the full review process. More information about the scoping remit can be found here.

We are seeking to recruit a practitioner to undertake this work. Please contact me if …

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Working with SQA

This seems a good time of the year to remind you about opportunities to work with SQA. One of the unique features of Scottish qualifications is the way that we work with stakeholders. We don’t hand down qualifications from on-high – we develop them in conjunction with practitioners, which includes teachers, lecturers, trainers and employers. There are lots of things …

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NPAs and NCs – Scoping

Further to Bobby’s post last week, we are currently looking for volunteers to scope the qualifications listed below. In order to keep providing you with good and sound qualifications, we aim to review our qualifications at least every five years, although some of the ones listed are overdue. Hence the importance of scoping before proceeding with the review. Among other …

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I’m pleased to let you know that we are about to commence a number of developments. We will be reviewing the following qualifications:

NPA Computer Games Development
NC Computer Games Development
NPA Web Design Fundamentals
NPA Digital Media Basics/Editing
HNC Computer Science (new)
HND Computer Science.

We have delayed the review of some of these qualifications (for example, the …

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HNC/D Information Technology update

We met with the Lead Developer for the review of HNC/D Information Technology yesterday afternoon. This development has been on hold for a while. It commenced in 2015 but, due to a number of factors, progress has been slow. We’re now ready to get on with it.

I’ve previously announced a name change for the qualification. It’s proposed to call it HNC/D Technologies in Business. We’ve also created a draft structure for the revised award. We now need to get down to writing (and revising) a number of units (19 new or revised units are proposed).

This will be the first development to get the “new treatment” – the new processes that I mentioned in another post. Because of that, there is a possibility that the revised award will be available by August. We’ll be clearer about when …

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Safer Internet Day 2017

Many of you may already be aware but for those of you who are still recovering from the post-Christmas blues, I thought I’d send a reminder of the upcoming Safer Internet Day 2017. This year it is taking place on 7th February, and SQA will be supporting this initiative once again. As part of our activities on and around the day, …

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The revised HNC/D Computer Games Development is published

The revised HNC/D Computer Games Development (2016) is now published. The subject page can be found here. The Group Award Specification and all the component units are available on the SQA website.

The qualification FAQ containing useful information and links (for example, links to the unit specifications for new and revised units within the award) is available here.

The assessment is also under development. For any update on ASPs, please contact the Support Materials team.

We do not develop SOLAR assessment for the qualification at the moment. However, if there …

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