Friday, 20 July 2012

Reducing assessment

One of the key goals of the HN Review was to reduce the amount of assessment in the awards. So the unit writers were under strict instructions to minimise assessment, while maintaining national standards. I think that we achieved that with the HNC. The number of assessments in the mandatory units of the new award is 55% lower than the existing award. We have also significantly reduced assessment in the optional units.

We are also looking at some radical solutions to this problem. The HN 2.0 project is looking at how we can use social software for summative assessment in the new HNC. The project has coined two new terms: social assessment and smart assessment. Social assessment is how social media can be used for summative assessment. Smart assessment is how smartphones can be used to generate evidence. We hope that combining social assessment and smart assessment we can hugely decrease the time spent on assessment, and make assessment a more natural part of the learning process. For example, we are exploring ways of integrating all of the assessment in the mandatory units of the HNC into a couple of activities using social/smart assessment techniques. This represents a radical departure from the traditional approach.

The HN 2.0 project will produce a report that will describe these ideas in more detail, and a new assessment exemplar that will turn the theory into a practical assessment. The traditional assessments will still be available to use, although much reduced, but this more radical approach will also be an option.

Look out for more details shortly.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

HND frameworks

The QDT has been working hard on the HND frameworks over the last couple of months. We are developing four HNDs - one is new (HND Computing) and three are revisions to existing awards, although very major revisions. The HNDs are:
  • HND Computing (new)
  • HND Computing: Networking
  • HND Computing: Technical Support
  • HND Computing: Software Development.
Each award has its own Qualification Leader.

The frameworks are pretty mature now, so I am not expecting them to change a great deal prior to the validation event. You can download the frameworks here.

The HND Computing award is new, and is designed as a general qualification for students who don't want to specialise in any one aspect of the subject.

The QDT for this review is very large, with representatives from more than half of Scotland's colleges,  but it's not too late for you to provide feedback on the frameworks for the QDT's consideration at the next meeting (scheduled for late August). Please contact Caroline directly with feedback, and she will ensure that the QDT sees your comments.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

HNC Arrangements are now available

Caroline posted a message on the SQA Computing blog last week to let everyone know that the HNC Arrangements have now been published. You can download them here [PDF].

This is an important milestone in the project. It's great to see one of the awards put to bed. It took longer than planned to finalise the HNC, but we got there eventually.

The new HNC includes many improvements over the existing award, such as a more up-to-date structure (which includes professionalism and ethics), core skills in context (now delivered as part of vocational units), and a new way of recognising vendor awards. The optional units include a huge range of exciting new topics, such as Cloud Computing [PDF] and Mobile Technology [PDF].

I know that some centres plan to offer the new HNC from August, and we will work with those centres to ensure a smooth transition from the current award to the new one.

Some support material is already available for the new HNC, and a great deal more is coming. The award will be supported by traditional learning material and e-learning material.

Contact Caroline for more information about the new HNC, including information about current or planned support materials.