Sunday, December 14, 2008

Digital Literacy The Next Generation User Skills Report

We are always looking for what next especially in the computing and ICT area. There is a minefield still to be sorted out around who teaches young people and adults the basic skill set they need to be digital citizens. Many of the people who inhabit the blogosphere assume that everyone under a certain age are already growing additional thumbs to cope with all the technology they use and those who teach in the computing area feel they are natural deliverers in this gap. There is also no consensus around what the basic skill will be for adults.

Most studies show we are not adopting technology in efficient ways and that we do need support in learning the basic skill set. It is also the case that as technology becomes ubiquitous it will not solely be the job of learning technologists to ensure that citizens can bridge the digital divide. In Scotland we have a productivity gap in the workplace - which higher order ICT skills could help close.

The starting point needs to be trying to define these.

The Next Generation User Skills Report has a look over the short range horizon. It looks at developments in US , Europe rest of UK and looks at defining a basic set of skills and identifying the gaps that exist in provision. It does not tackle the who and the how.

We are going to use it to help us shape what we put into this space. In Colleges and the workplace and we will share it with our colleagues who look after the assessed element of the Schools Curriculum in Scotland. I think there is a lot in this report for policy makers in the rest of UK . We hooked up with an ambitious project in Yorkshire and Humber to help give us the UK perspective that we needed. I am really grateful for the work that David Kay, Bob McGonigle, Barbara Tabbiner and Walter Paterson put into this.

A really useful Christmas present. We launched the research on Friday at Heads of Computing Conference for Scottish Further Education. More details on what we offer in this space can be followed on the SQA Computing Blog and the official SQA Computing home page.

Love of Education: A Shifting Paradigm - for LeWeb08 by Robin Good

Education can change any time we want.
I hope next year there are a few more Scottish voices like Robin Good's - I like the bit at end on -the rise of the professional independent educator - I have seen folks like this come out of the UK College and Univesity system . Ewan Mcintosh probably first export like this from Scottish School system and I think watching the blogosphere we have couple more in the making.

I am still not sure about how many of those in school system are ready to drive through changes required.

A few more talking heads like this from across Scotland would do lots to stimulate dabate. It sure beats more dissertations on comparative education systems.. or blogs about why change can't happen.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Microsoft Innovative Teachers – UK and European Competition Details

I am going to circulate this through some more official channels. This email arrived today to ask that SQA and LT Scotland get news out. A number of Scottish centres and teachers benefited from earlier rounds of the Partners in Learning Project. Here is hoping we get some bodies to the European Finals and on to the World Final this year. If you twitter or use an rss feed reader - then why shouldn't you be first to know.

The details of the UK virtual competition can be found by joining the Innovative Teachers Network (ITN) at The top ten entries will be invited to the UK Innovative Teacher Forum to be held in Microsoft Reading on 20 th February 2009 to share ideas and for selection to go forward to the European round (travel and expenses will be paid by Microsoft).

The ITN contains further details of the competition, examples of best practice and a forum to discuss the competition and pose questions. Entries will be sought that demonstrate technology making a difference in the classroom, are innovative and are transferrable in enhancing the learning & teaching practice of other teachers. The closing date is 1 st February 2009 .

A selection of teachers from the UK competition will go forward to the European Forum to be held in Vienna on March 24 th – 26 th (travel and expenses will be paid by Microsoft). UK teachers will be able to share best practice with others from all over Europe and also compete for places at the world final to be held later this year (this year’s world final was held in Hong Kong).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tennent's Lager

Hey it is still good and an interesting study in denotation and connotation.
I can see why I liked this advert then and I still like it - those crafty corporate advertisers or was the guy in advert giving the finger to the Saatchi Bros and coming up for job at Leith Agency.

Scotland - The Homecoming 2009

We're doing our bit at SQA with a Burns Supper in January and more stuff through the year . Not sure about celeb version of this I liked it better when it advertised my then favourite lager.

For international audience if you find a way to escape the credit crunch then next year is a good one to visit Scotland. The Tartan Carpet is out

Open ID not enough

Just a wee footnote - yesterday I Pete McCudden I am looking at how to secure big internet experience for young people. I am not sure if there is any other work going on in this area in Scotland. Pete is happy that I post his contact details

Open ID means you only need one password for everything but we still can't authenticate with any degree of certainty who you are. Systems like Netidme give us more of the authentication we need around who we are dealing with on-line. They have system that works for big people and a parent/guardian hook up for the under 16s.

I am looking at it from point of view of delivering assessments and perhaps having trusted communities for learners. Info will also feed back to Internet Safety qualfication.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Networked Student

Useful think piece for those who want an example of how all the bits fit together.

It's from Wendy at link arrived in a tweet and I was eating my porridge - so sorry for no plug - we've got some folks working like this but still a tiny minority in UK

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Curriculum for Excellence

The results of consultation are published today and we now move into the development phase for the qualifications. I spoke to Roderic Gillespie today and he is looking for Curriculum Specialists, Policy Managers , Technical Editors to form teams that will build the awards on what has been done to date.

No small challenge - I've done it twice as a practitioner in my own subject area. Those who carp contructively and loudest about the system can sometimes be best at engaging with this. Reform like this does drive change in system and while there will be lots of consultation as developments start moving forward, it always beats being a spectator, unless of course your contribution to education is to be a perpetual critic ;-) and hey we need you too.

I've just got my fingers crossed we make the system a bit more vocational this time.

If you read this and may be interested in leading on design of qualifications in schools please contact and he'll let you know what lies ahead.

I can't believe Standard Grade isn't disappearing any faster and I'm sure most things will be built to accommodate e-portfolios and roll on and off e-assessment.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Moon For Christmas

I was wondering what to do for my 100th blog post as a reborn blogger. Out of the blue Noel Chidwick my blogging partner from 00-03 got in touch.

Now the founder of the New Curiosity Shop He was the first guy I knew who worked with Moodle in UK and walked the walk - he left security behind to set up virtual education services.

He is not edupunk but eduprog. Check out and progressive in all he does.

Here's Noel's Christmas message.

'Here’s something to get you into the Christmas spirit - pop along to our band website

And play the video of our new Christmas song ‘We're Going to the Moon For Christmas’. - See if you can work out which one is supposed to be me.

It’s relentlessly chirpy and will have you humming along to the chorus all the way home – Noddy Holder eat your heart out.

We’re giving it away for free, so you can stick it on your iPod, but we are also asking folk to contribute to UNICEF – there’s a link to the UNICEF site alongside the song.

Oh, and it is educational too – you’ll learn all about the Apollo 8 mission, 40 years ago this December.

Turn up the volume as loud as you can!

Best of all, forward this message to anyone you know.'

Even as an old punk I find it hard to beat this worthy and creative message.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shaping Scotland's Digital Future

I promised I would wait to see what was reported about Shaping Scotland's digital future before I blogged about it. In the event the coverage in Herald and Sunday Herald only scratched surface of the event which covered a lot more than was reported.

Here are bullets from my 15 minute slot on podium at Glasgow Science Centre.

- there is a clear skills and confidence gap among deliverers in schools , colleges and workplace in adopting best practice in integrating digital tools into teachng and learning.
-in some sectors this holds back potential innovation in delivery and assessement
-learners and industry would like assessment on demand but to a national standard intelligent use of ICT could deliver this and does not have to be an objective test ( yuch)
-Provided that evidence is authenticated, valid and reliable we can already and do accept evidence in most mediums. The sector chooses how they want to assess. ( evidence on youtube, flickr, blog. wiki all possible see SQA guide to assessment and SQA Assessment 2.0 papers.) It will be good to see greater innovation coming through Curriculum for Excellence in school sector.
- Our challenge is from OfComm we are a nation of consumers of rather than a nation of creators and this needs to change
- We have one of best qualified workforces but lowest productivity in the world
-We need to move from passive transmission models of learning and more broadly top down ways of working to much more active and contributory states both for those in learning and those in the workplace.
- We need to challenge belief that low tech industries should be low tech workplaces- there is not an industy in Scotland which is making the best use of technology.
- ended by asking audience about what they do as well as belonging to social network ( audience mainly young digital natives)
- How many of them googled the speakers before they came along today.
How many thought about managing a digital identity
Had multiple identities
- use msn , twitter or other for more than personal close friend activity
Used virtual worlds as well as Bebo, Facebook etc
Shared creations more than their identity
Images created through Flickr or other
Music mixes , music that had composed
Publshed video from their telephones
Used delicious or digg and other collaborative tools to help with you learning

Interesting and reflecting the Ofcom study most of audience were happy consumers but not active creators. They need more support to build their personal learning networks.

We have just completed a UK study on Next Generation User Skills which we'll stick into this debate shortly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dr Mark Milliron

Hands up Clap you hands and clasp your hands - what thumb ends on top.
Either your right or left thumb this is natural . Try and do it the other way around and it feels very odd - Some nice hokey left brain right brain chat as warm up. Read to end for conclusion.
Best books on changes we are facing.

"Hot Flat and Crowded " Thomas Friedman is a depressing read but read last chapters what needs to change gets more optimistic.
"Who's Your City" Richard Florida - place is more important and quality of life you need to be more diverse and specialised.
"Competing on Analytics"- Thomas Davenport
"Social Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman
"Life Entrepreneurs" Christopher Gergen

You can now invest in place - put the right infrastructure - and people will like working there. Big thing in among US States at moment is that they are competing to have best Internet Infrastructure. If you have this and some other things every valley can be silicon valley.

Rise of Medical Industrial Complex
Biotech , Nanotech , Genetic Identification, Significant Viral Threats , Informatics and greater patient power,

People are turning off their landlines and only using mobile phones
Homes are all going wireless
McDonald's have gone wireless
Gaming now bigger than movies average age 33.
Use great Wii advert to demonstrate how people engage
You can play games over the internet - grandparents do this
Serious Games Site gets a plug
There is a virtual school with science labs just come on line.
pinball - atari - now Wii Use social networks "rate my" Holographic classrooms have arrived in US ( $30,000) to install - you can walk through heart or human body. You can import a holographic but real Spanish speaker into a language classroom.

If you had real analytics and predictive modelling on your students - you would be able to give them tailored support event tailored learning - just like Amazon.

We need Critical Learning - to process all the dramatic changes - being active reflectors not passive reflectors - analytics are going to try and keep you in a velvet furrow

Most people get jobs through social connections and most people get fired through interpersonal connections - how do we get social learning more formally into the curriculum. The better you get along with people the more employable you will be - a teacher as a role model who mostly works on their own - needs to be challenged or pupils need to see educators working in teams.

We need project based learning, collaborative learning, service learning and socially networked learning - we need courageous learning - you need to be a rookie every year - to get out of your comfort zone and this will keep your neurons tuned. Good for you and for your employers.

Cave people ( Colleagues Against Virtually Everything) we need to get them gently to stand to one side. We need to change what we do and how we do it.

Right thumb on top and your sexy.
Left thumb on top you are sneaky.
Sneaky Sexy if neither

3D Google Tour of Ancient Rome

Dr Anne Limb and Helena Kennedy Foundation

Ann Limb

Key note one at Scotland's Colleges Conference

Dr Anne Limb on work of Helena Kennedy Foundation . The power of small social actions to create greater social mobility . One of the things they have created is a charity to fund support for learners moving from Further Education into Higher Education . But still big problems in HE system and not just with learners from non traditional backgrounds struggling to get in the more damning statistics are those from non traditional backgrounds who drop out. Most Universities in England have funds to widen participation that remain unused and unclaimed
(I think it is same in Scotland)
Helena Kennedy Foundation gives bursaries to able vulnerable learners as identified by FE practitioners across range of disciplines now 150 bursaries a year.
I wonder what would happen if a social entrepreneur did same for some Scottish schools where participation in further education can be really low. The Foundation give learner money and a mentor for length of programme. We need to break mould and change feeling among many learners .. If at first you don't succeed you don't succeed.. example success strory being used is learner from minority group who is now a Barrister. Foundation has a 90% success rate so far ..

Practice and Innovation Conference Scotland's Colleges

Interesting and innovative start to SFEUs conference a series of mini dramas on the theme "walk a mile in my shoes" just great characters insecure school leaver, adult returner , Polish ESOL student, a new start FE teacher and new start head of department and all the challenges they face . Challenge to audience all around how we offer complete support to our learners and our teaching staff and develop our College leaders .. a full service - and customer service is what it is all about in further education. Forum Interactive organised this superb.

We have been asked to look at how learner induction could be improved and how induction of new staff and new college leaders could be improved.

Great sessions on each with great role plays in between each mini session - beats power point

Coming up next...

Dr Anne Limb on social mobility and social justice

Dr Mark Milliron CEO of Catalyze Learning International College Leader from American Community College System

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Frankie Boyle

I used to catch him live when I could in Glasgow and now watch him on TV now or on YouTube. He makes me really uncomfortable - perhaps a bit misogynistic. He arrived in my kitchen in a Sunday Herald interview this morning and one thing he said chimed strongly with me and my own formal schooling...

"I find education really horrendous ..

"That whole thing of having to move on to the next class when the bell rings , so that obedience is more important than what you're studying"

A Summerhill type thought for the day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shape of Things to Come

On occasion a howler appears in the press. I normally put it down to the commercial desperation that drives the struggling press. Journalists don't get a lot of time to check their facts and harassed editors need to the fill the yawning space beside the adverts and the inserts. It can also be cheaper to commission a piece or even to to do a spot of vanity publishing.

There was a teaser in this week's Times Educational Supplement - I am probably boosting circulation already. "The Dark Side of Glow" Headline the Internet is not Glowing. The full piece will appear in the Scottish Education Review.

There are some useful questions that could be directed GLOW'S way - and I am looking forward to reading the full article. In this piece the author appears to take a Swiftian look at change- I suspect fun will be poked at the good old days - the chalkboard shuffle - the scent of banda fluid - and photocopier only for office admin use only. I am guessing but suspect there will be digs at both the electricity companies and the publishing industries for conspiracies to get light and books into schools.

In among these red herrings I would hope to find the informed hard questions that Higher Education always challenges the school system with.

Given the suitably retro tone of the piece in TES I have attached a retro piece from Stephen Heppell .. I guess this is the kind of forward thinking that led to the creation of the world's first Schools Intranet here in little old Scotland.

Derek Robertson offers a much more intelligent critique of the piece here.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I picked this up from Jane Knight's blog similarities between our successful Sports Store game and this financial awareness/ lifestyle were immediately apparent in the game play and scoring system.

Was at launch of primary version this week at Abbeyhill Primary in Edinburgh with Maureen Watt - it is being rolled out by Young Enterprise Scotland.

Fun with Finances: Moneytopia GamePlay the new online finance game, Moneytopia: The Big Dream, just launched by the FINRA Investor Education
Foundation. You and your family can have fun while learning to apply
fundamental principles of money management and investing. Seasoned game
developers and financial experts made Moneytopiapossible to offer you savvy
financial guidance as you and fellow players make a lifetime's worth of
financial choices.

Similarity ends there, language and focus reflects money management game developed for American military personnel - but - an opportunity for some one doing financial awareness in UK to take a serious look at this though. I think money management is going to be at opposite end of scale from wealth management for most of us in coming years.

Question how can we get summative assessment to be as effective and as fun as achieving a high score in a game.

Some will still scoff but its is how we train pilots and surgeons .. and fits into vocational learning just fine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Partners in learning

I am sure there are lots of programmes that do this kind of thing - but it is great to see this project movingP1000548 on - worth having a look at the partners in learning blog and joining the innovative teachers network .

I am not aware on another project on this scale.

Here is the team in Hong Kong

Busy month

It is approaching the silly season when every chamber of commerce and or industry sector we work with has some kind of annual awards or other bean feast. Will be interested to see if looming recession has any impact on these - diary is filling up fast ..

In meantime I am getting my teeth into government review of qualifciations in hospitality and tourism and I am limbering up for the next instalment of Shaping Scotland's Digital Future next tuesday at Glasgow's Science Centre.

Today looked at Close Protection awards for export to India and afternoon with Partners in Learning will all be in press this or next week.. phew ..

Monday, November 03, 2008

Did Ye Ken

This is great version of Shift Happens polished up by Ian McRobert, Ian Lowson and assorted HMIE with a final polish from Andrew Brown LT Scotland - can we get this on SQA Jiglu Group
Did Ye Ken
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: shifthappens didyouknow)
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, November 02, 2008

4IP and Ewan McIntosh

4iP Logo Great to see 4IP building momentum we have some good ideas and looking forward to seeing what we can bring to the party.

Can see why Channel 4 is doing this. If you have wireless broadband and apple tv or host of other gizmos you will already be enjoying an advert free TV schedule designed by you.
You Tube , VeohGoogle VideoBlip TV , Blinkx, RevverJoost

Great to see Ewan bringing his social networking skills to the fore - lots can be joined up here - Colleges have been gagging for an initiative like this for last 15 years or more. Well done Channel 4 and keep leading from front Ewan.

Learners are already out there making , producing and distributing their own programming. I hope someone will correct me but unlike lastfm which was out there from the UK in the music space we don't have a UK presence in the video space.

Now if only we could personalise learning to this degree .. blocked in schools literally and metaphorically
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To Blog or to Twitter

Busy and very productive week - Interesting piece on Radio 4 as I drove in to office on Monday - is blogging dying and/or are users switching to things like twitter.
I now use twitter once a day and blog less often. Piece was on at 8.40 am

I have said before I was an early adapter and blogged 2000 - 2002 and switched it all off in end - I think this time there is a more active community developing and web2 and cloud computing makes the experience more fun and productive.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

HHL08 Hand Held Learning

For first time in last three years there was not an SQA rep at Hand Held Learning Conference. However there was a strong Scottish contingent on the programme pleased to see Derek Roberston of Consolarium getting an award. JISC mobile resources for Hairdressing too.

I am still of opinion that wifi in schools and Colleges is the way to go with it being opened up to allow cheap Ultra Portable Computers or learners own lap-tops on to the school network and if we were being truly enlightened to create wifi hotspots for the community.

Schools should be better than Starbucks at this - but hey ;-)

Of course there is space of any other mobile devices too..

But above all it would makes best use of hard won educational bandwidth and allow reliable access for all. Islay High has got first bit of this right and this model should be rolled out.

Also presentation from Laurie O'Donnell on educational changes - nice presentation that compliments thinking on curriculum for excellence but interesting take on small projects - which seems counter intuitive in a small country with so many local authorities - I am guessing but I don't think he meant to be as firm as this on local enterprise. Assessment 2.0 still don't think there is realisation that door has been open for while on this.

Worth sharing around teams

If you are getting up to speed with Twitter worth doing a Twitter Search for HHL08 and you will pick up lots of nuggets from the conference.

Monday, October 06, 2008

BETT 2008

"by spring 2008 every pupil should have access to a *personalised online learning space *with the potential to support an e-portfolio"

Was the theme of Bett in January 2008

Watched this for a while in England . Interesting debate at

Also some quite interesting communities for those with interest in education technology and school sector and refreshingly open.

We are moving at a range of different speeds towards having ICT Infrastructires across School system in UK none with the ambition and vision of GLOW - but will be interesting to see what emerges in different bits of UK.

Walt Disney - Chicken Little - 1943

A friend sent this on this morning - parallels with panic in the financial sector. You can tell too that cartoons were for grown ups in 1943.

Are we less or more visually literate now than we were in previous centuries when bulk of us could not read ?
and does numeracy help us in current crisis ?
Is there a voice of reason to be found in the media?
Where are the foxes - one thing is certain like any economic crisis some will be reaping a harvest from this crash.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Do you want to see into the future ?

Programme: Innovating e-Learning online conference 2008
and following from last post - here is a shameless plug for an online conference . If you want to hear what is happening in the University system this is best place this year to hear it - best guide too at moment to what will happen on-line in most non workbased learning environments too. A glimpse into the future
JISC leads the way. Most of the work pioneered by JISC underpins educational computing across UK .

BECTA Web 2 Survey

The lastest BECTA study just makes me mad. - Web2 even Web1 is such a fantasic learning resource and yet learners in schools get more access to it at home than in school.

No I don't want learners sitting in front of terminals all day and not interacting and no I don't think technology is answer to all ills .... and I get really fed up with anything that starts .. there is a lack of studies can see why being an academic did not hold my attention.

Worse this reports says teachers can cope with all this stuff too - only just not at school. Do as I say not as I do.. thanks Bob Harrison

When will these reports get better.

Last bit of report sits well with discussion on unblocking more of the web for learners - would be good place to start in opening discussion.

This is a great piece of work by BECTA it is chasm it exposes that is scary. (but we knew it was there)

I probably should leave well alone My territory is Colleges and the workplace and we are not short of challenges in vocational learning landscape. Could start home learning ;-)

Amazingly learners arrive post school and can cope with virtual learning environments and eportfolios - amazing as they adapt their knowledge of platforms that they use socially not because they have depth of experience of these in the main in the school system. ( it may be that VLEs are so well designed and amazingly easy to use - only kidding )

But there is a lack of studies ... perhaps an argument for keeping web2 out of secondary ;-) I am sure I hear a researcher sharpening their pencil.

Can you tell I've been on a train for six hours today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

$98 Linux Laptop from China - The HiVision MiniNote

When you see this I think it confirms where learning is going and where schools in the UK need to go.

Those who run IT in schools need to concentrate on running robust wireless and hardwired networks with a focus on use-ability rather than blocking things. I liked what I have heard about Westlothian allowing learners to hook up their own devices to schools wireless networks.

We also need to look at different approaches to assessment for schools. It really is happening already in College and in the workplace. This before any of this technology arrived so sensible changes in assessment methodology don't have to be assessment driven. But think what a leap forward we could make if we did make best use of this.

It is all in the pipeline. It will take some courage all round for us to get here. The biggest threat to these changes at moment is not I believe from the educational establishment , nor from learners or politicians but weirdly from the media -why are they so conservative. ( with wee c)

Here is a report from Australia on an experiment. Thanks Andy Black at Becta for spotting this. Your Black Hole is still blocked at SQA ;-) Though I have to say it is now about only thing that ever gets blocked.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Key note Scottish Learning Festival

Fiona Hyslop - Cabinet Secretary

7,000 attendees best year yet for SLF
1400 at Fiona's talk
Economic success and getting all young people to share prosperity is broad target
Set out in 15 national outcomes - interdependent and many relate to education

We host delegations from all around world- Our system is famous
OECD review has increased Scottish Educational standing
But problems in upper secondary and that children from poorer families are not succeeding in our system - who you are should not be holding you back.

Curriculum for Excellence is our response - from pre-school to life beyond school
Schools and school staff to take more responsibility for change of curriculum.
Importance of collaboration and leadership at all levels
Association of Director of Education have bought into this.

We no longer want less compliant self direction we want less central direction and to put more trust in our teaching profession
Building curriculum 3 framework for learning and development creates framework for this
The frameworks for assessment on their way.
Qualifications system and consultation on next generation of awards is ongoing currently plea to engage with this.

GLOW - building up head of steam in Scotland and tributes coming in from international community - George Lucas wants US Congress to do the same.
Lots of examples of how Glow is being used up and down schools and studies coming through showing it had impact on learning.
Says pupils switch from Bebo t0 Glow - ( thought this was blocked most shcools )

Best thing about Scottish education the debate . Highly ambitious reform programme and we all need to work together to make it work - once in a life time opportunity- important for future success of Scotland. Only together can we do this

Professor Richard Tease

Shame he was not asked to look at link between school and vocational education
How we move from straight jacket of success – professional sharing opening a door of opportunity to create a living culture of learning .

Within schools and communities between learners , teachers and learners , teacher to teacher, with parents , employers , FE , Universities etc

What are relationships we want to build through curriculum – bonds of learning
How we engage learners more fully or lift expectations of staff – how do we engage parents especially in deprived communities.

For teachers fear resides in isolation need to get them interacting with other schools and teachers.

Curriculum needs to be seen as culture not law – continuous variation and adaptation will move things forward.

Isolation of learner and teachers in some weak schools – all scared of revealing ignorance – we need to lift horizons and expectations – schools and teachers need to take risks to break out of this.

We need to share this risk if we want system to break out from here – will take courage at many levels, LAs , NDPBS, Gov

Great speech

Questions -
QNeil Winton - well done - who helps teachers access basic internet sites.

Q Mismatch in teacher ed training - timing the retirements are coming through we are out of synch have set up teacher employment working group - money is in at the top.
Good point from floor and was an issue 20 years ago when I started - there are number of folk in classrooms who just don't want to be there anymore .. surley not

Q Teacher wants conference shifted to weekend - so real teachers can come along. good point

Q What are issues arounf testing in Scotland.
Richard Tease testing helps understand where children stand but we don't use it to judge schools or shame teachers - should be diagnostic - how long do we wait to intervene when we know children in particular groups need help -how do schools self assess themselves how to teachers self evaluate to make sure we know when extra help is needed.
Fiona - will ask local authorities re-look at step down

Q Teacher - can we scrap league tables - expressed in Higher and standard grade passes
( aside yes in fact government did three or more years ago this is a scourge and damaging to system and is no longer in our system but local authorities are still beating up schools like this ?? ) -
Fiona - We need to change what employers ,colleges and universities expect and at LA level should be about 4 capacities not about exam passes and should be about SCQF and not just formal qualifictions- yes
( aside it's almost all there but schools are not encouraged to pick up centre assessed units and programmes - Do employers know about 4 capacities ? )

Q How can we ensure class reductions and reduce teacher burn out.
Richard Tease - need to talk beyond schools and classroom too many teachers struggle to find ways to go forward ways to reflect to lift their game - ways to exchange experiences with schools in similar and different situations -( looks like great opportunity for GLOW )
Fiona - teacher numbers are coming into system - but some local challenges in Glasgow and Aberdeen - at least you have government that are driving these changes and there has been progress so far
Q How can we ensure 35hour annual CPD in local authorities is relevant to national agenda.
Fiona - have been in discussion with Directors of Education on this - collegiate nature of curriclum for excellence will drive changes and break down isolation.

Missed a couple but great session and long too

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scottish Learning Festival 2008

Thumbnail image of cover of Conference guide 2008

There are a few main gatherings I have in my diary every year. What was SETT and is now the Scottish Learning Festival is one of them . It is the first time since 2000 that I am not organising a session of some kind at this or it's predecessor events. I can't even remember what they were called in 90's and late 80's when they ran at the old Scottish Council for Educational Technology Centre.

I had cleared two days to get around lots of stands and catch up with colleagues as well see some of the key notes.

I had scheduled - Cabinet Secretary and Ollie Bray for tomorrow
and Kari Smith, Charlie Leadbetter and Gill Robinson sessions for Thursday

Then reality hits I now need to be back in the office to interview some staff on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday is senior management team which has been moved to Dalkeith. I get a morning to see around.

Catch me if you want my briefs forOllie's session on Wednesday or my Thursday sessions.

At least I can still get along to Teachmeet tomorrow evening - sorry to be missing dinner with this gang - but I have business dinner and meeting later.
I am lucky in that I am no longer tied to an institution and a timetable - it's great to see more and more tools are being used to share all the good stuff that goes on at SLF.

I now look forward to seeing some of the webcasts of what I have missed at a later date - but please remember most teachers won't be there tomorrow or Thursday and we need them all to come with us if we are really going to change how we do things...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Journalism and Education

Read this - then read it again and again..
At the SQA we are of course totally "crazy" and we thrive on getting "black marks" this is entirely due to all of the highly experienced subject specialists we employ.

but please look at end of article.
An SQA spokesman said: "It would be entirely untrue to say that Edwin Morgan is being ignored, banned or dropped from Advanced Higher English.

"Students at Advanced Higher level have a completely free choice of authors and texts for the specialist study element of the course which counts for almost half of the marks. If candidates wish to study the works of Edwin Morgan – and many do – then they can. Edwin Morgan could well be restored when next the list is refreshed."
Must have been a quiet news day - and just think about the fuss any time we make anything compulsory..

It's just like crawling across hot coals with folk who should know better standing on you. There is a debate perhaps to be had around the whole literature , language , communications area - but what is the hope for debate in face of reportage like this.

Still better in the news than out eh ;-) and thanks to colleague on ScotEduBlogs for Editable Einstein.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ben Walker - You're No One If You're Not On Twitter

Lyric amused me

Picked up from Jane Knight

But scarier there are even more songs on YouTube about Twitter mmmm ?

Titter ye not - what happened to songs about.. well other stuff..

Blackholes and Beer Bottles

Heard the news today and remembered a friend who was working on this 10 years or more ago and who is sadly no longer around - and then spotted why physics experiments go wrong. On BBC website

While working on the LHC's predecessor, a machine called the Large-Electron
Positron Collider, engineers found two beer bottles wedged into the beam pipe -
a deliberate, one-off act of sabotage. The culprits - who were drinking a
particular brand that advertising once claimed would "refresh the parts other
beers cannot reach" - were never found.

That's the way the world ends not with bang but a Carlsberg .. more seriously
look at the amount of team work and cooperation that has gone into this .. now if only we could get people to work more cooperatively what other problems could we solve.

aye I know it's Heineken but it doesn't scan as well and at any rate if they did do Big Bangs it would possibly be the Biggest Bang ..

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Next Generation of National Qualifications

Teachers the future shape of qualifications is in your hands .. I posted earlier on this when the consultation started - it is critical that teachers engage with consultation.. the system is yours to shape .. you can actively participate or passively .. well choice is yours and when consensus emerges we'll make them - get involved.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide

ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide

Leeds, UK, 9-11 September 2008

I am missing ALT-C this week - but will follow what I can through twitter and bloglines. I enjoyed spell on the executive and still follow many friends from this time. I spotted this piece on the digital divide - some of the creativity across UK elearning is fantastic - (hit more button) and watch the section on eportfolios ( in Wales every one has one already ) I think this is a neat explanation for school pupils. Amused too that it looks like they are having an ALT equivalent of Teachmeet F.ALT.
(hosted on a wetpaint platform, it and Ning are really cool and easy to use at moment)

There has been some consistantly great and useable stuff coming from Pontydysgu the Welsh Educational Research Institute.

Reminds me too that there is still too much of a digital divide among those who work in Education and Life Long Learning. If you are interested in the broader UK community and interested in learning technology across the learning arena then ALT is worth joining.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chrome New Google Browser

Now sitting with five or six ( safari arrives every time i-tunes updates)  different browsers on my desk-top. To date I have liked Firefox best of all  and was really disappointed we could not stick in on my SQA laptop -"as  it does not have an enterprise edition"  so I can't get it for all my staff - runs well from a datastick though ;-) 

I am sure I recall a joke that contained a punchline about the talent to  lick the chrome off a bumper.  Don't know if I'll change but have liked playing around with this. Like how I can attach and unattach window tabs - it has class and very quick too - but not licked firefox.

For many it's not about all these new tools. It is really just about showing them how to use the ones we have productively.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The World of Chemistry

This cheered me up and more seriously something for learners of all ages

Digital Media Academy

What if I said Scottish schools and Colleges could do something like this right now ?

Digital Media Academy Summer Computer Camps & Creative Training

and learners would get credit towards a range of national awards as well as picking up appropriate vendor certification if they wanted it.

What do we need to do to get things moving .. marketing as slick as this.. ?? - tours of Stanford University.. more razzamatazz ?

This post from futurelab made me depressed - we have thought this all the way through to here and passed this point in Scotland but it has been slow to move out into Colleges and Schools
Congratulations to Islay Academy and our DIVA lead centres they are in vangard on this. Now if only like the weather this good practice would blow across rest of Scotland.

You could do it open source if the vendor bit does not appeal to your sensibilities and that's the bit that's been holding you back ;-)

Bobby and the Computing Posse are waiting to hear from you .

Monday, September 01, 2008

Like-A -Bike


Sometimes simple ideas really work. My two year old goes out into garden puts on his bicycle helmet and races around the garden freewheeling and in control while my five year old who learned with stabilisers has just found her balance and can't keep up.
This is a great product - but there is a valuable lesson - learners don't need stabilisers ;-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The revised organisational framework for skills in Scotland

This is dry but factual and thanks to Susie Hill and our internal research team for this excellent summary.

A detailed view of who looks after all the occupational competences in Scotland and UK.
SQA make and regulate the qualifications coming out of this policy environment.

The Leitch Review of the UK’s long term skill needs was published in December 2006. Following this, the governments of the UK set out their own plans with Skills for Scotland, a Lifelong Skills Strategy, published in September 2007 being the Scottish Government's response . Since then, there has there has been rationalisation of skills bodies at UK and devolved levels. Among those affected have been the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA), the National Employment Panel (NEP), and the Sector Skills Alliance Scotland. Working arrangements and patterns of relationship between the newly created bodies are emerging.

Skills Groups
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES)
This body was launched 1 April 2008 and is primarily advisory in nature. Its remit is to develop an independent view on how employment and skills services can be improved, to assess progress, and to advise Ministers at UK and devolved levels. It will also fund and manage the performance of the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), advise on their re-licensing, and report to Parliament. Two of its quarterly reporting meetings at UK Ministerial level will include the devolved governments. The full Commission itself will meet four times a year, and operate with six sub-committees, one strategic. Minutes are published on the internet.
The body is registered as a company, is funded by grant in aid and has: as Chairman, Sir Michael Rake of BT; as Chief Executive, Chris Humphries formerly of City & Guilds; and 20 Commissioners. These include Grahame Smith of the STUC and Willie Roe, Commissioner for Scotland and Chair of Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
In the development of a five year strategic plan, the Commission is carrying out a public consultation over a five month period, closing in September. At the same time, it is assessing the performance of each Sector Skills Council (SSC), including through employer feedback. Each SSC will submit a business case for re-licensing by June 2009.

The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils (TASSC)
The Alliance was also set up in April 2008 to articulate the employer voice in the skills system, giving SSCs increased influence over policy. This includes ensuring that the voice is heard in the design and development of learning at all levels and in all settings.
The Alliance is funded by the subscriptions of its members, and is a company limited by guarantee with offices in London, Edinburgh, Bridgend, and Belfast. It recently appointed John McNamara as first Chief Executive.
The Alliance in Scotland has a sub-structure of a Council, four Strategic Groups - one for each key aim - and a Forum to deliver the aims set out in Skills for Scotland.
The Alliance Council comprises: the Director, Scotland; the Chief Executive; the Chairs of the four Strategic Groups; and four of the Partner Organisations, namely the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), SQA, and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). It has no legal duties but may produce reports.
Employer Engagement Strategic Group. This group has nine SSC representatives. External members to date are the Scottish Government and SQA.
Partnerships Strategic Group. This group has eight SSC representatives and to date, one external member, the Scottish Government.
Labour Market Intelligence Strategic Group. This group has six SSC representatives, together with the Scottish Government and SQA. Its focus is sectoral LMI as opposed to the global approach of Futureskills Scotland.
Qualifications and Learning Strategic Group. This group has seven SSC members together with the Scottish Government. It is anticipated that there will also be representation from SQA (x2), ASC, and SCQF.
Alliance Forum. This internal group will have representation from all 25 SSCs to facilitate network communication.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)
In September 2007 the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning announced the creation of SDS bringing together Careers Scotland, learndirect scotland/SUFI, and key skills elements of Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Highlands (HIE) and Islands Enterprise, including funding of the National Training Programmes.
SDS to work to realise the vision set out in Skills for Scotland focusing on individual development of skills, the improved economic pull of skills, and the creation of cohesive structures for the delivery of skill development. It is a registered company limited by guarantee and an NDPB fully accountable to Scottish Ministers.
Willie Roe, Scotland Commissioner to UKCES, is the Chair with Damien Yates, formerly of learndirect scotland/SUFI, as Chief Executive. There are five non-executive board members. They are:
Evelyn McCann, formerly of SE
William Stevely, formerly in HE
Ann Douglas, National Secretary of Prospect
Janet Lowe, SFC and SDS Boards
Alan McGregor, Glasgow University
Cay Stratton, Special advisor on UKCES.
An Operating Plan 2008/9 has been published. It states that there will be close working in particular with the SFC and its Skills Committee, and that consultation is taking place to support the development of a first corporate plan.

Modern Apprenticeship Group (MAG)
The Modern Apprenticeship Implementation Group was renamed as of 1 January 2007 to become MAG. It has a formal constitution and derives its authority from Scottish Ministers. Its remit is to approve and re-approve Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks for Scotland. A formal procedure for member nominations has been introduced and an independent chair is to be appointed. The members to date are SDS, the Scottish Government, SFEU, SQA Accreditation Unit, the Scottish Training Federation, STUC, and TASSC. At any time a maximum of six representatives from different organisations maybe invited to attend.

SCQF Partnership
The SCQF Partnership Board was set up in November 2006 to manage the Framework. The members are ASC, SQA, the QAA for HE, Universities Scotland, and the Scottish Government. It is chaired by Dr. Andrew Cubie.
The SCQF Forum helps support the Framework. It is made up from senior representatives from education, business and communities in Scotland and will include SDS, TASSC, and UKCES.
The Quality Committee ensures clear, accurate technical information. It is chaired by Prof. Alex MacLennan and has nine members representing FE, HE, local authorities, SQA, QAA, HMIE, and the Institute of Bankers.

Scottish Funding Council Skills Committee
The Skills Committee of SFC collects and processes evidence of skill needs in Scotland, advises how improvement can be made in meeting them, and considers the supply and demand for FE and HE. It makes inputs and receives inputs from other Council committees and groups.
The Skills Committee has three Council members, one of whom, Dr. Janet Lowe, is the Chair. She is also on the Board of SDS. Among the 10 external members are Grahame Smith of the STUC and Chris Humphries of UKCES.

Monday, August 18, 2008


For those who tell me that Web2 offers nothing useful. There is clearly a lot of social enterprise going on behind this site. Description below and worth a look for intersting Google Maps Mash Up.

If Renton had this in Trainspotting would he still have had to stick his arm down that U-Bend ?
Coming to a city near you...

Like the description

Diaroogle helps you find quality public toilets from your mobile phone.

It's for the discerning, on-the-go defecator who is brave enough to use a public bathroom, but still demands a hygienic and private bathroom experience. It is also a community authored database of New York toilets.

Blog Power

I got a nice message this morning from from Andrew Carey at the Triarchy Press, the publisher of "Systems Thinking in the Public Sector" offering me a second hand copy - he had picked up my last blog post.

I actually ordered one over the weekend and have already found a donor for book when it arrives, thanks to Twitter and thanks again to Andrew and Triarchy Press. I hope it is the inspiring read that I have been promised.

Interesting who reads blogs - when I posted on Microsoft Popfly I got a helpful follow up comment from headquarters in Redmond within a matter of hours.

Web2 is shrinking the world and Scots Educators you need to get out here ;-) ( this message is for those that can't access this ;-) )

Friday, August 15, 2008

Leadership in the Public Sector

Interesting that following my last posting I have had quite a few suggestions on useful books on changes that are needed particularly in public sector in the UK . But more interesting three of the suggestions all pointed to one book recently published and none of these plugs came from the author or anyone connected with the publisher. Better go and buy a copy or if anyone in SQA has spare one - let me know...

Cover of 'Systems Thinking in the Public Sector' by John Seddon

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leadership and Management in UK

Some of the educational bloggers I follow have been blogging about management and leadership this week - must be that back to school week. see John and Don Leddingham

Meanwhile I have just been at meetings with industry and standards setting bodies who blame decline on education mmm is this Six Degrees of Separation or more likely they are already looking at the changes that need to come in management and leadership across industry.

A good place to look are the national occupational standards NOS in UK for management and leadership these are developed by the Management Standards Centre. We use these standards as basis for awards in Scotland and rest of UK and we work closely with the Chartered Management Institute to make sure our HN awards lead to Chartered Manager Status.

I attended a rather entertaining launch of some new standards in London on Wednesday here are the main points from the morning. Making UK Management and Leadership Skills World Class by 2020: Pioneering Change

In reverse order from twitter (slightly edited with other notes from day)

It started out in quite a focused way and by end - well it's all the fault of teachers and television.

But some useful nuggets - I've not checked these "facts"

On serious note we have some recognised serious shortcomings across the Scottish public and private sectors and we are going to see what else can be done about this and that was why my journey was necessary.

Joe Wilson
Television finally getting blame for promoting bullying and poor values The Apprentice and Devils Den and the swearing chefs not good role models
Joe Wilson lesson from this morning give people around you continual opportunities to step up and take risks manage challenges
Joe Wilson where do children learn to be leaders in todays schools ? not enough challenge
Joe Wilson leadership and management failures in UK being piled at education's doors. Grumpy corporate rotters or is this insight ??
Joe Wilson despite credit crunch stilll queues for private schools in london and across UK in Sweden money follows learner this drives up standards
Joe Wilson or driven by a lack of values and attitudes to learning there is no simple answer
Joe Wilson current school system (england) "only" fails 54pc of young people this is higher than anywhere in the developed world. A scandal and driven by academic snobbery
Joe Wilson do you do intense leadership coaching with all staff and offer rewards on how on well they develop the next leaders
Joe Wilson have you got staff who are able to "not take " or opt out of responsibility for what they do from beginning to end if so redesign work
Joe Wilson don't do top down plans they don't work
Joe Wilson good example of mindmaps rather than using business reports massive added value in large corporation over night
Joe Wilson still problem at policy level in UK we are too arrogant to look at rest of world
Joe Wilson UK low esteem and a lack of pride in achievement and too many managers who don't have proper values , aspirations or goals in private and public sector - ouch
Joe Wilson leadership and risk has to be in our industries context but we should all take more risk
Joe Wilson chinese best qualified managers and good at identifying their weaknesses deep understanding of skillsets required UK USA too complacent
Joe Wilson if you are not growing next leaders in your company or in your industry - serious problems with your leadership and your industry
Joe Wilson leaders need constant challenge and validation and should never be too busy to think - reflection should be regular
Joe Wilson we learn leadership by doing it and being open to challenges not through courses or qualifications How do you move staff around no comfort zones if you want to grow managers and leaders??
Joe Wilson There are no low tech industries but there are too many low tech organisations in the UK