Friday, 24 May 2013

HNC/D Computing - Launch Event

We are officially launching the following HNC/D Computing awards on Wednesday 19th June 2013 at 1000-1530 hours in the Jury's Inn, 80 Jamaica Street, Glasgow:

HNC Computing (GE3F 15)
HND Computer Science (GG7D 16)
HND Computing: Networking (GG7C 16)
HND Computing: Software Development (GG7E 16)
HND Computing: Technical Support (GG7F 16)

We are busy organising this event and hope to have a range of items for presentation and discussion.

To register, please click on the URL below:

As places are limited, please ensure you book early to secure your registration.

A maximum of two places can be reserved by each registered delegate.

Look forward to seeing you then.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Group award codes

It's taken a while but we got there in the end! I got back from annual leave on Tuesday to some great news -- the remaining validation conditions had been addressed, and the validation panel now approved the new HNDs.

That permitted us to "operationalise" the awards, an important part of which is getting them group award codes, which centres need to register students. The codes are:

  • GG7D 16 HND Computer Science
  • GG7C 16 HND Computing: Networking
  • GG7E 16 HND Computing: Software Development
  • GG7F 16 HND Computing: Technical Support

I will be writing to centres in the (very) near future to formally inform them about these codes (and other related information).

It's been a long development but the new awards are, in my view, genuinely high quality and will, I am sure, prove to be hugely successful in the coming years. The Group Award Specification will be published on the SQA website in the next day or two.

Please contact Caroline if you want to know more about the new awards.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Support Materials for HNC/D Computing

The new HNC/D Computing awards are heavily support by a number of Assessment Support Packs (ASPs) as well as e-Learning materials for the mandatory units within the HNC Computing award.

Over the last year we have developed a large number of packs that cover a selection of mandatory and optional units in the revised HNC/D awards.  The following ASPs are our Phase 1 developments - published ASPs are available on the SQA secure website (access via your SQA centre co-ordinator):

Computer Hardware: Hardware Installation and Maintenance (Published)
Computer Networking: Fundamentals (Published)
Computer Networking: Practical (Under Development)
Computer Systems Fundamentals (Published)
Computing: Graded Unit 1 (Exam) - Version 1 (Published)
Computing: Graded Unit 1 (Exam) – Version 2 (Published)
Computing: Introduction to Project Management (Published)
Computing: PC Hardware and Operating Systems Essentials (Published)
Computing: PC Hardware and Operating Systems Support (Published)
Configuring a Desktop Operating System (Published)
Convergence Technologies (Under Development)
Databases: Introduction (Awaiting Publication)
Developing Mobile Web Based Applications: An Introduction (Published)
Developing Software: Introduction (Published)
Handling Information as a Resource (Under Development)
Human Computer Interaction (Published)
Intrusion Prevention Systems (Under Development)
Mail Server Management (Under Development)
Managing a Web Server SCQF 7 (Under Development)
Managing a Web Server SCQF 8 (Under Development)
Mobile Technology (Published)
Network Concepts (Published)
Open Source Operating Systems: Basic Server Administration (Awaiting Publication)
Open Source Operating Systems: Introduction to Command Line Administration (Published)
Professionalism and Ethics in Computing (Published)
Relational Database Management Systems (Under Development)
Software Development Programming Foundations (Under Development)
Software Development: Data Structures (Published)
Software Development: Developing Small Scale Standalone Applications (Published)
Software Development: Developing Websites for Multiplatform Use (Under Development)
Software Development: Object Oriented Programming (Published)
Software Development: Systems Foundation (Published)
Systems Development: Object Oriented Analysis & Design (Published)
Team Working in Computing (Published)
Technical Support: Supporting Users – Hardware (Published)
Technical Support: Supporting Users – Software (Published)
Troubleshooting a Desktop Operating System (Published)
Troubleshooting Computing Problems (Published)

In addition to the above, we have contracted writers/vetters for a 2nd batch of ASPs (Phase 2) which have started development now.  Most of these Units are part of our International frameworks but many cross-over into the revised HND Computing awards which will give us a larger pool of support materials to support the awards.   All of the packs below will be available by September 2013 with some arriving in June/July:

Client Operating Systems
Cloud Computing
Computer Forensics: Fundamentals
Computer Networks: Building Local Area Networks
Database Design Fundamentals
HND Computing: Networking Graded Unit 2 (Project)
HND Computing: Software Dev. Graded Unit 2 (Project)
HND Computing: Technical Support: Graded Unit 2 (Project)
HND Computer Science Graded Unit 2 (Project)
Internetworking Technology
Network Server Operating Systems
Network Technology & Data Communications
Networking Technology
Providing Technical Support to Users
Routing Technology
Scripting for Interactivity
Security Concepts
Self Describing Data (XML)
Server Administration
Software Development: Rapid Application Development & Prototyping
SQL: Introduction
Switching Technology
Web Development: Producing a Data Driven Website

Please contact your SQA centre co-ordinator for access to any of the published materials listed above.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Progress update

A great deal has been going on behind the scenes in the last few weeks. The Qualification Development Team, or more precisely a small group of qualification leaders, has been working on the conditions and recommendations that were placed on the awards at the recent validation event.

There was a meeting with two representatives of the validation panel (the convenor and the SQA representative) to discuss progress recently. The good news was that most of the conditions were lifted. In fact, there are only one or two outstanding actions.

I hope to have all of the conditions lifted by the end of this month so that the awards can be coded and officially made available to centres from early May. There will be a launch event in June, when we will showcase the new qualifications. Look out for invitations.

I've already stated that you don't need to wait until the awards are validated before preparing for them. Most of the units have been validated for several months (and available on the SQA website), the frameworks are now finalised (and can be downloaded here), and there are a raft of support materials available for the new awards, including assessment support packs (available on SQA Secure) and teaching and learning material (available online).

We're also here to help to please contact Caroline if you need any assistance.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Qualification Leader meeting

The Qualification Leaders (QLs) met on Saturday in the SQA offices in Glasgow, for a progress meeting. As you know, the QLs have been busy working on the validation conditions and recommendations since January.

We're getting pretty close to finalising the required changes. Most of the conditions and recommendations have been actioned. The main challenge remains core skills. The validation panel wants more core skills to be embedded in the awards, and adding Numeracy (at Level 6) is proving to be a challenge. But we're working on it and hope to come up with something soon.

I hope to have the awards validated by the end of this month so that we can publish the Group Award Specifications in April.

But there is plenty that you can do now to prepare for next year. The Group Award  Specifications will not change much, if at all, and can be used as the basis of your timetabling. In fact, the HNC award was validated a long time ago, and will not change. Most of the units (in all of the awards) are available, and there are assessment exemplars for many of the units (available now via SQA Secure). There is also some teaching and learning material available.

There will be a formal launch event in June but there's plenty available now to begin your preparations.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about the new awards or the support materials available.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

SOLAR support for the new awards

Me and Caroline met with Graeme Clark, of the SOLAR team, this afternoon to discuss how SOLAR can support the new HN awards. The HN awards in my area have had a lot of support from SOLAR during the last few years, and the service is growing in popularity in centres.

Graeme is keen to support the new HN qualifications, and we agreed that most of the assessment exemplars that have been, or will be, developed would be "solarised" i.e. converted to online assessments. The new HNs are the best supported development that I have ever undertaken, with a total of 38 units supported with assessment exemplars (of which 22 are currently available). SOLAR can only assess knowledge and understanding (not practical skills) so not all of these packs can be converted -- but Graeme hopes to convert most of them.

It's great to have this support from SOLAR, which means that centres will be able to use traditional (paper) assessment exemplars or online assessments for many of the units in the new HN awards.

Contact your SQA Co-ordinator if you want access to the assessment exemplars that have been developed (these are available via SQA Secure) or contact Caroline if you want to know what additional packs are coming in the future or contact SOLAR if you want to know more about what's available online now and in the future.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Meeting of the Qualification Leaders

The Qualification Leaders (QLs) for each HND award met yesterday afternoon. The purpose of the meeting was to review the report from the validation event and to decide who does what when.

It was a productive meeting. We divided the work between the team. There were a significant number of validation conditions and recommendations to discuss, and although most of the conditions and recommendations will be relatively simple to address, there are one or two that will take a little time. We plan to meet on a couple of Saturdays in the next few weeks to deal with the more complex conditions.

I aim to have all of the conditions and recommendations dealt with by the end of March, so that we can focus on launching the new awards in plenty of time prior to their widespread deployment in August. I am hoping that the launch event will take place around May or June.

But you don't need to wait until then before preparing to introduce the new awards. The frameworks will not change much (if at all) and most of the unit specifications are already validated and available on the SQA website.

Contact Caroline if you want to see the current arrangements or simply find out more about the new awards.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Validation: Day 2

The second, and final, day of the validation event for the updated HNDs took place on Friday. The second day focused on the Technical Support and Networking awards. We also got feedback on the awards that we presented on the first day (Software Development and the generic Computing awards).

The outcome of the validation was that all of the awards were validated with several conditions and recommendations. The main conditions related to core skills (for all of the awards) and the title (of one of the awards).

The panel asked that the HND Computing award be retitled to HND Computer Science so that the title is consistent with the new Curriculum for Excellence qualifications. So, the new HNDs will now be entitled:
  1. HND Computing: Technical Support
  2. HND Computing: Networking
  3. HND Computing: Software Development
  4. HND Computer Science.
The other main condition was the inclusion of all of the core skills at SCQF Level 6. The proposed awards included most of the core skills at Level 6 but not them all. The panel asked that all of the core skills (Communication, Numeracy, IT, Problem Solving, and Working with Others) are embedded at SCQF Level 6. This will present more of a challenge to the QDT since we will have to find a way of adding Numeracy and Communication at SCQF Level 6 in all of the HNDs. But, if we can do it, this will mean that these HNDs carry more core skills than any other other HN award offered by SQA.

The were a number of other conditions relating to aims, entry requirements, professional recognition, and transitional arrangements (among others).

So, there is plenty of work ahead for the QDT. But we were happy with the outcome and think that the proposed changes will improve the new qualifications. We hope to have the conditions lifted by March next year and all of the awards available to centres from July.

Contact me if you want to know more about this validation event.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Validation: day 1

Yesterday was the first day of the two day validation event, which will examine the four HND proposals. For the sake of continuity, we used the same validation panel as we used for the HNC validation, which consisted of representatives of colleges, universities and industry.

We're looking at two awards each day:

Day 1: HND Computing and HND Computing: Software Development
Day 2: HND Computing: Technical Support and HND Computing: Networking

So yesterday we looked at Software Development and the generic Computing awards. Each of the Qualifications Leaders started the day by giving a brief description of the proposed award, together with the reasons for any changes.

We got the Panel's feedback in the afternoon. It was mostly positive. Both awards were liked but the Panel made several comments and suggestions about possible improvements to the awards.

Today we're looking at Technical Support and Networking. The QDT will get formal feedback on all four awards later today. These are expressed as "conditions" (which we must address) and "recommendations" (which we don't).

Since we are in the middle of the process right now, I don't want to write too much about the final outcomes. But it's been very constructive, and I am expecting a positive outcome, albeit with some work for the QDT to carry out.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Final preparations for validation

The team have been busy this week making final preparations for the imminent validation event for the revised HNDs.

Validations have been an important part of the qualification development process for a long time. The purpose of a validation is to carry out a final check on the proposals through a process of peer review. There are two particularly important phrases in that last sentence. The validation is a "final check". It is not meant to question the  basis of the proposed award since anything so fundamentally flawed should never be presented for validation. The other important phrase is "peer review". A validation event is a meeting of equals. It's not an inspection by one group of teachers on another.

That's not to say that a validation is a rubber stamp exercise. The panel can impose conditions and recommendations on a proposed award, and the QDT is required to address the conditions.

The members of this validation panel are typical, consisting of experienced, dedicated professionals, with a variety of backgrounds, who, together with the equally professional members of the QDT, will try to make the new awards as good as they can be.