Scottish Computing – An Agenda for Change

Image via WikipediaAs we start a new year it seems an apposite time to spark a discussion on the way forward for the teaching of Computing in Scotland.In my work with the SFEU (now Scotland’s Colleges) I have been involved in conferences and works…

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Image via WikipediaAs we start a new year it seems an apposite time to spark a discussion on the way forward for the teaching of Computing in Scotland.

In my work with the SFEU (now Scotland’s Colleges) I have been involved in conferences and workshops that address that very question. As ever, though, it is easy for fingers to point everywhere except at oneself.

Over the next few days I will be posting on several areas where I believe that we can make a difference to Computing provision. The suggestions are not in order of priority, nor are they definitive or even complete. They are, and should be taken for, discussion points and jumping off points for progression. They include suggestions for:

The numbers choosing Computing as a subject, end hence as a profession, are dwindling. We must take action now if we expect a future for the teaching of Computing in Scotland.

This agenda for action was created following two SFEU events. The first, in June 2008, attracted over one hundred Computing practitioners from Scotland’s colleges. The standout workshop at that event was concerned with the fall in recruitment, retention and attainment in Computing throughout Scotland’s colleges.

This workshop prompted a follow-up event held at SFEU and attracting representatives from almost half of Scotland’s colleges – an indication of the level of concern throughout the sector.

At the events several challenges were discussed and various strategies suggested. What was clear, however, was that no one stakeholder group was able to take the actions necessary to address these challenges. This document continues the discussion and suggests strategies for moving forward.

It is intended to stimulate debate and initiate responses. There may be items that you may disagree with and approaches that you consider to be inappropriate – please indicate this if it is the case and, of course, make alternative suggestions. These issues need addressed and it needs to happen now.

Read the suggestions, digest the ideas and respond, either in public or in private. You have the future in your hands.

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SQA Web Site Revamp

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Image via Wikipedia

The SQA have engaged in a long overdue revamp of their web site. This includes grouping all related areas together in one page for easy access to much of the information that’s available for that subject.

Let’s just say it’s better than it was before.

SQA – Computing, IT & Related Areas

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Can Teaching in a Virtual Environment be Productive?

Image via Wikipedia Teaching in virtual environments can be very productive, Bill ThompsonCan it?BBC NEWS | Technology | Moving to the Second Classroom

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Teaching in virtual environments can be very productive, Bill Thompson

Can it?

BBC NEWS | Technology | Moving to the Second Classroom

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Is e-Learning a Distinct Profession?

Image via WikipediaMore and more institutions (usually at the prompting of funding councils) are demanding that courses be available on-line. Of course the distance between the aim of providing a course on-line and the final course is a long one a…

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Image via Wikipedia

More and more institutions (usually at the prompting of funding councils) are demanding that courses be available on-line. Of course the distance between the aim of providing a course on-line and the final course is a long one and is not a journey that, whether from lack of interest or lack of skill, not all learning professionals can take.

Is there a place, then, for professional e-learning practitioners who exist solely in the ether?

Angela Boothroyd explores that question further here:

Studying Online: E-learning as a profession: Part 1

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Credit Crunch Creates Courses

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Interesting Article in Science Daily about how the complete lack of available cash could lead to a boom in e-learning.

Bottom line is that companies see savings to be made by creating a course once and rolling it out to many users rather than paying a trainer to deliver the course personally.

I agree with the sentiment; although the statement

The newest solutions make it possible to turn a PowerPoint presentation into a course for a thousand employees within two hours.

makes me cringe. There’s more to learning that presenting information. And there’s less to PowerPoint than presenting information.

Economic Crisis Boosts E-Learning

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The Open Model of Education

Image by Josie Fraser via FlickrOne of the most promising approaches to increasing attainment is the open model of education. Practitioners are well aware of the requirement to make materials accessible in many more formats (Blackboard, Moodle, We…

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Image by Josie Fraser via Flickr

One of the most promising approaches to increasing attainment is the open model of education. Practitioners are well aware of the requirement to make materials accessible in many more formats (Blackboard, Moodle, WebCT, SCORM) than the traditional words on paper.

This new model opens up the possibility of learning anywhere and everywhere. For example, some of my own students access on-line materials via the web browser on the phone whilst commuting to and from work. This very openness is a major factor in their enjoyment and subsequent success in the course.

How do you make your learning open?

Education Innovation: The Open Model of Education

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When DID the IT Staff Become Our Bosses?

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The tales of colleges being unable to implement any good practice involving IT (as defined by, amongst others, our HMIe overlords friends) are legion. Most of it is related to the baffling willingness of educators to allow support staff to dictate how we should teach.

While I can see the reasons for blocking certain sites containing, for example, porn, and the rules for access to JANET are clear, the stories of colleges blocking perfectly usable sites are mounting and becoming more ridiculous by the day.

Why, in the name of all that’s Web 2.0, does a college of my acquaintance block Google Mail? Or Google Docs come to that? Descriptors abound requiring students to access newsgroups. Only problem is many colleges block NNTP traffic. Why? Even worse why, when asked to unblock this traffic, do system administrators refuse on spurious “security” reasons? And why do we let them! The same applies to e-mail or chats.

If any administrator can come up with a sensible reason for this, and that excludes any explanation that includes the phrase “in case”, then I’d love to hear it.

It’s the 21st century. I spend half my time listening to tales of there not being enough IT equipment and the other half hearing that students are unable to bring their own laptops into colleges. Is there a relationship here?

The bottom line is this. Support services are there to support and if education is being compromised then we have to address this; and sooner rather than later.

Weblogg-ed » Filter Fun

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Last Call for Computing Conference

Image via Wikipedia Following on from the SFEU’s Computing Conference in June, (what do you mean you weren’t there – it was great!) this Thursday, the 18th of September, sees an event focussed on Recruitment, Attainment and Retention in Computing….

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Image via Wikipedia

Following on from the SFEU‘s Computing Conference in June, (what do you mean you weren’t there – it was great!) this Thursday, the 18th of September, sees an event focussed on Recruitment, Attainment and Retention in Computing.

We have speakers from the SFEU, SQA, HMIe and the University of Strathclyde together with plenty of workshops on the programme.

Hopefully you’ll leave bristling with new ideas to make your department as successful as it can possibly be.

Registration closes soon so get moving and I’ll see you on the 18th.

From the SFEU website: The challenges facing computing staff in all of Scotland’s 43 colleges have never been greater, with continuous demands on lecturing staff to keep abreast of an evolving curriculum, emerging technologies and new computing subjects. In addition, staff members need to consider the profile of their learners and their varying expectations, the fact that performance indicators continue to be low compared to other areas across the sector, and that computing recruitment is slipping. Despite such challenges, there is an abundance of good practice and success stories in computing. It is important to harness such practice and help practitioners implement these successes elsewhere. To achieve this, it is essential that computing practitioners work together with learners, policy holders, awarding bodies and employers.

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Improving Reading and Retention Skills

As part of student induction it is useful to teach some basic tasks like time management, library use and getting out of bed in the morning.Download Squad have a pointer to a rather useful application that helps improve reading and retention skill…

As part of student induction it is useful to teach some basic tasks like time management, library use and getting out of bed in the morning.

Download Squad have a pointer to a rather useful application that helps improve reading and retention skills. That can only help improve results.

Speed Read : Improve Your Reading and Retention Skills – Download Squad

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Rating Rats

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Image via Wikipedia

At the SFEU conference in June the most provocative presentation by far was by Ron Dillin concerning PIs (performance Indicators) in Computing. In fact, the session was so provocative that we’re having a full day (18th of September) to discuss it.

Researching the topic to get a handle on the types of presenters we would need and the discussions they would generate led me to think of the rating systems itself. Which naturally reminded me of the Rat Experiment.

If you haven’t come across it before have a read – it might be germane to the problem…

The Rat Experiment : Productivity501

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