Sunday, June 29, 2008


Just back from an early summer holiday and back to a full on week just catching up with things - I was amused by this and references in last few weeks to edupunks on a few blogs. John Connell being closest to home. I thought most educators were really just sad (old) or wannabe hippies - the debate is relevant in that change cannot come fast enough - (Punk response in the 70's was simply to put superglue in the school's locks)
This version from Edtechie can be viewed with annotations on Youtube site -sums up the debate well and comes from the OU - open toed sandals clearly in the past and is neat demo of how annotation tool works within YouTube.

At least it's not Eduprog , Eduhip , Edugoth - imagine the 10hour spaceship filled psychedelic pointlessness - (is this educationalists blogging ??) -Anyway begs the question - who knows the best place for the superglue ? ;-)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ofcom Website | Conference coverage

We work closely with Ofcom.

Their excellent papers over last few years highlighting that our population needed to switch from being consumers to being more confident creators in the web2 world and their work around Internet safety have inspired some of our developments.

Interesting coverage of conference on International Media Literacy - useful for debate on curriculum for excellence

Ofcom Website | Conference coverage

Friday, May 30, 2008

National Progression Award and Adobe

They have got it in Islay and they are offering training in how you do it in Fife, at Adam Smith College.

You'd like a course that covers web design, is supported by learning and teaching materials , is platfom independent , could lead to Adobe Certification for some candidates , comes in three units and offers progression into National Certificate and other vocational awards in a College .

Web Design Fundamentals SCQF Level 5 is the one you should have a look at.

Now if only we could get centres between Islay and Kirkaldy to pick up this information.
It's great to see DIVA in action.

I am sure this information will be available from lots of sources but if you want some training
24 – 25th June 2008.
The Adam Smith College, as part of the DIVA initiative, is offering 2 days of training in Adobe products to help teaching staff prepare for delivering the NPA Web Design and associated units. The courses will focus on the relevant Adobe software tools and also provide an opportunity to discuss delivery and assessment with staff who have developed or delivered the units.
Open to college and school staff, cost is £50 per person per day and includes lunch. Venue is Adam Smith College, Stenton Campus, Glenrothes.
Please contact Colin Maxwell for bookings or further details. 01592 223719. colinmaxwell @ (please remove spaces from e-mail)
Tuesday 24th June
Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 – preparation for F181 11 Web Design Fundamentals, and F182 11 Web Design and Development.
Wednesday 25th June
Adobe Flash CS3 – preparation for F180 11 Interactive Multimedia for Website Development.
View on the web Transfer elsewhere Respond on the web

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beginning of end or end of the Beginning

Books on demand production costs - 5p per copy - Interesting story about the author with most books on Amazon

Philip Parker

Now if learners had access to these algorithms -
Then maybe we could focus on what you do with knowledge rather than the facts on their own.

I have no idea how readable these books are - but if it saves you time researching the market for wooden toilet seats in Japan .. worth a look, the beginning of a shift in how we manage and access information.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Yesterday I had a very early start for a JISC JORUM steering group . Those who work in College sector will know all about JISC and the services they provide . I just wanted to capture some of what is happening in one UK University.

The norm is for main lectures to be Videoed and are available as web streams. These can be accessed by students in satellite centres on other continents.

500 podcast lecture library is also available to learners.

They have a repository that contains lots of images and film footage digitised from a range of sources used for variety of purposes in lecture theatres or in the Virtual Learning Environment.

Through JISC they subscribe to many other collections , academic journals and other learning resources nationally and internationally.

They have problems with what to do with all the digital material they are building up - eg student concerts from the music department

They have some projects running in High Performance Computing area that are very bandwidth and storage hungry.

Faced with the digital deluge they are researching a data storage strategy.

Being Academics they are very concerned with Archiving but are never sure where to stop.

They use an Eprints repository and have a publications reporting strategy that automates their RAE returns ( captures and publishes research publications from all the academics on campus) .

The academic community make increasing use of local and national repositories mainly for research but increasingly for teaching and learning.

They have a search tool that allows searches across their Virtual Learning Environment, EPrints, the library catalogue and their learning object respository.

They may move sophistication of this out to i-google or some other external tool to open their meta data to others and improve local searches further.

They have been building intelligent classrooms that can utilise these resources with learners .

Soon they may do an MIT and release freely a lot of their learning and teaching materials.

The feeling is that as the momentum has grown so Research , learning and teaching have moved closer together.

They have a lot of student, learner generated content and are not sure how to manage this.

They have a "dead professor problem" - identity management issues across the institution some staff have multiple idents and Shibboleth authentication has not sorted this out yet.

They have now come to expect most students will arrive with a wireless laptop and expect access to all of the Universities services on campus and off campus 24/7

It's not the same everywhere and will vary a lot institution to institution and department to department even in a single university - but I thought this was a neat summary of a University that has got it and what learners get when they arrive at a University near you.

Colleges are couple of steps behind but sometimes stronger on Virtual Learning Environment implementation. Eight years working with JISC and the changes have been phenomenal . UKERNA delivers the backbone for GLOW.

Rattled this off on the train home last night sorry if it looks horrible

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Little Britain Carol Sketch

Interesting and yet depressing debate over what schools in Scotland's 32 local authorities can and cannot access. Reflected in these postings

Ewan McIntosh and here

Andrew Brown

Jim Henderson

I should not have said schools I should have said learners and teachers. Those who wish to access the system for learning don't have the controls.

This issue is as old as the hills or at least as old as folks became aware that this could all be controlled. IBM counted keystrokes at one time as a measure of productivity maybe this could be used as a benchmark for educational computing ;-) t00.

It is so very "Little Britain" - "computer says no" and sets a fantastic example to teachers and learners on the flexibility of access to IT and probably does nothing to educate anyone about the dangers that do lurk on the unmoderated and unfiltered internet that we can all access in normal life. There is an institutional cowardice around this on a national scale at moment. But at least it means everyone in "education" has a clear conscience.

The filtering also hampers communication and prevents teachers becoming involved in national developments - some local authorities cannot access the SQA computing blog or other user groups - another reason that Glow cannot come fast enough. When computers say yes more often in schools we will finally get the majority of learners and teachers engaging with this medium around the serious ;-) business of learning. I hope this will at last provide fairly uniform access to the net ( with the exception of certain bits which will ofcourse strictly observe the Sabbath ;-) )

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PMOG, Creepy treehouses and Mobile Phones

I have been having fun with PMOG ( passively multiplayer on-line game) over the last two years or so. It is not quite a game more a fun take on what I spend my time looking at on the web - it is more fun than i-Google history.

There is quite an interesting debate on the public/private face of web2 developing on John Connell's blog. Creepy treehouse could be a goth band ( probably is). It is really all about being appropriate in your conduct and communications. As a learner I would find it creepy if the school wanted my mobile phone number - I'd need a pretty good explanation and maybe even some bribe before I'd let this space be invaded by learning or worse .. teachers.. The mobile learning brigade would not endorse this.- though nobody has ever explained to me who pays for the texts or web phones ?

Though I have to say both as a pupil and a teacher I witnessed some "creepy treehouse" conduct long before the advent of the web. There is some really sensible ethics emerging in this debate around both engaging learners and the yawning digital divide which is still there.

Worth a look before you add your entire address list to that new web2 application that you really like or invite lots of folk to manipulate some on-line system that they don't understand.
Every one has rights and the Creepy TreeHouse isn't just in learner space.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I have followed Elliot Masie since the mid 1990's - periodically reading his weekly postings.
I have just joined this on-line community and was instantly pleased to see a lot of kindred spirits .
It may be a bit techie for some - but this looks like an interesting experiment in those who are interested in on-line learning , social web , web 2 and can see that it spans school , college and the workplace - the life long learning thing.

It looks as though Learning Town has already built some critical mass. Worth a look if you are interested in all of the above . Gordon McLeod of Learndirect has already started a Scottish Connection Community.

Scotland Glowing

A great article in today's Herald on Glow. My wish is that we move faster at getting SQA inegrated into the system. We have a lot of goodies that could only be improved by sharing with school community ( especially internet safety and social software stuff) and for a Curriculum for Execellence it offers the perfect platform for designing the individualised programmes and assessments with teachers and I hope pupils . Hope we can report progress here soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Next Generation of Qualifications

We finally get underway with the consultation on new shape of assessment at SCQF 3- 5 in schools - the next bit of a Curriculum for Excellence.

The maelstrom has just started . The comments on this report in Scotsman shows that it will be as hard as ever to reach a consensus on what replaces standard grade . This is the fourth time I have worked through this bit of the system being reformed .

If we answer criticisms in recent OECD study we will deliver for Scottish Learners. Laurie summarises issues well here

It is a shame that study did not take a look at vocational education out with schools in FE Colleges - I think the answer still lies there for many of our young folks 16-18 who simply outgrow school and need new challenges - I hope whatever fills the gap re-engages these learners.

I have watched schools in Glasgow where I worked in FE cast off hordes of very able youngsters who were simply bored and disengaged by their schooling. That was of course in the last century.
I wonder if anyone has told Primary Six yet ;-) 2012/13 is their time

Social Bookmarking Arrives on SQA Website

Find something you like on SQA website - the finding still may be a challenge (there's a lot of stuff) - and now you can share it through , digg , facebook , reddit

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Internet Safety and Future of Computing

An excellent article and an excellent leader in last week's TES on the Internet Safety Award . Some schools and Colleges have already adopted it as a course delivered to all of their learners , Strathclyde and other Scottish Police Forces have adopted it and we are attracting centres from other parts of the world too.

Well done to Bobby Elliott and the HN/SVQ Computing Team

I hope many of the other challenges that computing is facing in the school sector are addressed through the new technologies draft outcomes . There is a general panic in industry around the lower numbers taking computing in the University system . We have been monitoring this closely see earlier posting numbers have been holding up on the vocational side of things but always room for improvement and through our Qualification Support Teams we continually update our offerings working with Industry.

Monday, April 07, 2008

What Price National Assessment ?

We are in the middle of reviewing one part of our National Assessment system through a
Curriculum for Excellence . The new system will be based on what is best for learners . There is
an interesting debate in the following pieces from the BBC , the Guardian and The Times and
covered elsewhere in press on the escalating costs of the exam system south of the border.

It is worth looking south to see what the system becomes when there are multiple commercial companies selling exam services in the schools and vocational education space. Shouldn't this
mean that prices should be going down ? There will be a economist out there who can explain
this I am sure.

There is some irony that the regulator QCA had to do a study of this kind to get this data. We are
similarly in dark on prices for NVQs and VRQs that are being charged in the vocational sector -hope they do a study on prices in that sector next.

As a public servant involved in delivering this service I should probably be quaking in my boots
in the face of private money delivering the exam system south of the border. I'm not. There is
room for improvement but we don't have challenges on this scale. Privatisation does mean you
can make big profits on delivering services like this Mmmm? The Times . However, it is more
complex than Private Greed versus Public Good - food for thought.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Skills Development Scotland

Skills Development Scotland Skills Development Scotland is formally launched today (Tuesday 1 April). The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop MSP, announced in September 2007 that Careers Scotland, Scottish University for Industry, and key skills elements in Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise would be brought together to form a new single skills body to take forward and deliver on the vision set out in the Scottish Government's skills strategy 'Skills for Scotland'

This is big news for us and for the many learners and training providers in workbased learning.We have always managed to maintain a sensible approach to life long learning in Scotland . To date we have managed to avoid the chaos that is happening south of the border -remarkable given the very open market in Scotland . We have managed to develop a uniform unitised system with clear progression routes in most vocational areas.

Reflected well in these pieces from the Guardian "Government to axe City and Guild courses " , " Hundreds of qualifications for teenagers likely to go in vocational diploma reforms "

The official announcement is here

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Where has March gone ?

A criticism that can often justifiably be made of any non-departmental public body is that we are too preoccupied with our own bureaucracy and answering up the way and that we lose touch with realities on the ground , in our case the centres and learners that we are there to serve.

March is always the month when we tend to be most inward looking as we do all the chasing and finalising of projects and budgets - a flurry of invoicing and making sure we have squeezed every penny from the budget to get best value for the public purse. There has been much of that this month and a lot going on in the policy sphere.

Internally we finally commissioned and e-assessment platform that will be used across the SQA.
We devoted a lot of time to planning SQA's new structure which like the e-assessment platform will be unveiled over next few months. We did a lot of work with staff around new modes of assessment , unit and the design of arrangements in preparation for work around Curriculum for Excellence and the ongoing development of the national qualifications portfolio. We have had input from Dylan Williams and range of gurus from Scotland , UK and abroad.

Externally in policy terms we finally had the green light to move ahead with the consultation on what may be new courses at SCQF 4 and 5. We have also been asked to look at potential of some baccalaureates and Literacy and Numeracy Tests. The parliamentary debate is here.
We watched the formation of the new agency Skills Development Scotland - which starts operation in April and I attended the last meeting of the Sector Skills Development Agency in Scotland to update on the last sector skills agreements.

I did manage to get out to present the inaugural Youth Worker of the Year Awards at Murrayfield , present at an excellent event at Cardonald College for School , College and ETP Microsoft Centres and present at a Parliamentary Reception for the centres that are working with the Industry Alliance for Jobs.

Away from day job I fufilled some commitments as a Board Member at Anniesland College (new build is going to be a credit to the City of Glasgow). Managed an escape with Anne to sunny Rome for the Scotland Italy Rugby Match and had a great easter weekend with the family.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When will education start working

From Today's Herald - I fully acknowledge it is not all about qualifications and worry about a system that makes so much of statistics and does not see the people behind these - published today I acknowledge too that there is much good news - most young people do move on to Education , Employment and Training and there are not big skills gaps being reported in Scotland .

However, today's Herald Article makes grim reading - are these young people getting access to the right kind of stimulation in schools ?

One in 10 Scottish school-leavers went straight on to the dole last year
raising fresh fears over the education of some of the country's most vulnerable
children. Scottish Government figures show that of the 51,000 young people who
left school in 2006-07, more than 5000 were registered as unemployed. Statistics
also showed the proportion of pupils leaving school with no Standard Grades has
remained static in the past three years at around 4% of the total. By the age of
21, a young man from the Neet group - now referred to by the Scottish Government
as More Choice More Chances - is three times more likely than average to have
mental health issues, five times more likely to have a criminal record and six
times less likely to have any qualifications. Nearly half of this group also go
on to long-term unemployment.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


John Johnstone , Robert Jones and Peter Liddle have been updating the platform that Scotedublogs sits on .They are stars and I was glad that SQA could provide some support for this . Think my comment says it all.

Well done guys – sponsorship is just small recognition for all of your hard work . I hope SQA and LT Scotland can do more to support work like this in the future.
Let me know if there is anything else we can do.

I and colleagues at SQA make regular use of the RSS Feed on Scotedublogs. It is a fantastic barometer of activity across Scotland – The new Times Ed ;-)
There is a lot more we could do to promote Scotedublogs as a means to link up bloggers in Schools to those in Further Education and Workbased Learning.

Remember if If you are a Scots Educational blogger you can do your bit to support ScotEduBlogs too:
  • Make sure your blog is listed.
  • Make sure the tags on your listing describe your blog.
  • Link from your blog to ScotEduBlogs (there are some images and help on the wiki).
  • You might want to help out by designing a new graphic or in other ways, see the wiki again.
If you check out my sidebar and you can see ScotEduBlog Logo

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Curriculum for Excellence

We are getting close to looking at the what will, and how it will be assessed bit of a Curriculum for Excellence. This is worth a look and glad to see it is sitting on a Moodle Platform( a great example of disruptive change in the VLE market)

Some debate on Ewan's blog on what makes communities work . I have lived and worked through at least five major changes in this bit of Schools Curriculum and at least six in vocational area in a much shorter time span. Critical for learners and delivery that we get this right and that we get a model that allows rapid and continuous change once implemented.

Contentious and contended ground this but essential that a consensus is reached. I am sure this will make the GLOW groups glow with debate at some point. I wonder how good our community will be at forming a community of practice around this ? .

The Qualifications for the Future virtual space at SQA Academy is a resource for colleagues from schools, colleges, ETPs, the workplace and in the community seeking information on developments and latest thinking about qualifications and assessment. The virtual space includes DVD clips, on-line questionnaires, papers, think-pieces and letters, all of which provide ideas about the future of qualifications and assessment.

Information-giving is, however, only one purpose of this virtual space, albeit an important one. A further purpose is to encourage self-reflection and professional debate through an on-line forum which colleagues are encouraged to use to reflect on current practice and their hopes and wishes for future qualifications.
You want informed takes on where we can take assessment then there is some pretty good stuff here to get debate off and running. I'd make everyone look at Ewan McIntosh in full flow in New Zealand and see where we can use Web 2.0 to give the landscape here back to the learners a bit.

Thanks to Kate O' Hara for graphic

Monday, February 25, 2008

Literacy Outcomes and the Networked Teacher

Interesting and pleasing to see that literacy outcomes include new media. Ewan captures these well here. I hope most teachers will embrace these quickly. At this end we can still see a skills deficit. A lot of the appointees from across the sectors we work with cannot cope with new technology and if in doubt try to fall back on the exam and test route to measuring attainment rather than making use of methods that reflect the skills and knowledge they want their candidates to develop. Which is how we do it in the vocational space.

There are not enough practitioners like the one in the diagram below. ( maybe it's the threat from the two ended spears pointing at the teacher ) It would be useful to see some more advanced outcomes like these embraced through teacher training , chartered teacher, TQFE , Assessor and Verifier Awards and other mechanisms that could grow the number of staff who positively embrace the new in their delivery. There is some serious staff development needed if we are going to make the most of these new Literacy Outcomes in ways that are meaningful to learners. There is also more we could do to allow learners to choose how they present their evidence of learning - which may be radical but would speed up change.

Interesting and challenging to see the Guardian readerships reaction to these developments too . I read blogs and interpret and filter information from a wide range of sources all the time - I still read books too. The spears are certainly out in some of the comments here.

Reflections on Blogging

I have been keeping a blog again for almost a year. I am mainly doing this to keep my own staff in touch with my movements and musings. I was surprised at the weekend to hear that some of my friends from the non educational world have been looking in on this too. I think that can only be good - too many have an opinion but no knowledge of what actually goes on inside the education system. I think this is education's loss -  it's not really rocket science but we do bury our aims and objectives in so much jargon that real world people - even parents - are instantly switched off. Guess the problem is that we can't agree what education is really all about ;-)

I was touched too  in last week or so to be listed here in such illustrious company. It looks like those on the inside appreciate some of this babble too.

I was sorry not to be able to make Teachmeet in Perth but good to see that it was such a
success and some great sessions you can pick up on the Wiki.

If you google Teachmeet Northern Edition you will find some great stuff.

Good to see too that Scotedublogs is growing its appeal. The fact that this community is growing and growing can only be good for education and for the forging of links beyond the school gates – which is what I think  learning is all about.

I have to make a special mention of this posting on Don Ledingham's Blog it is  great to see a new Director of Education with such a clear and innovative vision prepared to make it public.

I hope in all these ways we are widening and deepening the education debate in a way that changes things where it matters,  for the learners.

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