Wiggio – Group Working for Free


Wiggio is a FREE online toolkit that makes it easy to work in groups. Worth checking out.

Wiggio – Makes it easy to work in groups.

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Your Weekend Look Into the Future


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As the recent theme has been the way forward lets move into the weekend with some high-tech visions of the future, from 1981.

Cue wavy lines and theramin music…

1981 primitive Internet report on KRON

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Area #4 – Qualifications


Image via WikipediaThe danger for all qualifications is their limited shelf life. Alan Kay said that the best way to predict the future was to create it. Unfortunately, there is a minimum eighteen month development cycle for qualifications that means that often the course has a degree of redundancy by the time it is available. The inevitable outcome is that the future has become the past before we can influence it.

In addition, the ‘big bang‘ effect in colleges means that getting a new qualification, creating assessments, writing support notes and shepherding the new award through the quality process ensures that only the most enthusiastic, or foolish, colleges immediately implement new qualifications, ensuring that they are further out of date.

What is needed, perhaps, is nothing less than a root and branch reform of Higher National Computing to address these challenges.

A core change could be to create an HN General Computing. To achieve this award, students would have to successfully complete the required number of units. These units, save for some exceptions, can be those that are approved for any Computing course of study. There would be a relatively small (say three or four) number of mandatory credits which would be ‘soft’ skills such as project management or working in a project team.

To ensure a proper spread of knowledge, areas/topics would be grouped and a limit placed on the number of units available from each group. For example, there might be a minimum of one and a maximum of eight credits available from a programming group that could count
towards the award.

Where duplication exists, such as with the ‘Professional Issues’ units, only one unit would be eligible.

To differentiate awards and give them an identity, sets of extra mandatory units could be created or a specific number of credits from a group might be set. In either case specialism would not be necessary to achieve the general award.

The other major change would be to set up a revolving standing committee responsible for researching, writing and implementing new units in response to demand from stakeholders. These units would be immediately added to the pool of units available for the award.

This approach would be advantageous for all stakeholders:

  • Students would not be forced to specialise on their first day at college. Instead they could work towards an award secure in the knowledge that their work would not be wasted.
  • Colleges would benefit from being able to consolidate many classes, only providing specialisms where there was clear demand and at the latest possible time in the course. Those specialisms could also be closely tailored to local articulation routes.
  • Practitioners would benefit from a stable set of base units with small but regular turnover.
  • Industry would have access to more computing students with current skills.

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Be Realistic


Image by Getty Images via DaylifeWhat’s the first thing that Computing practitioners should do? Be realistic.

Computing took great advantage of a boom in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This boom was fuelled by many reasons including the massive uptake of computers in general business, the millennium bug, the dot.com boom etc.

This boom led to a large increase in the number of course offered and the number of computing professionals added to the pool. The pool of professionals has now reached a natural plateau where the requirement, at HNC and HND level, is mainly to refresh the pool of talent rather than expand it.

Computing as a high-end technical subject has less potential for attracting students than IT as a business support subject. Therefore consideration should be given to Computing departments teaching IT subjects that are embedded in other curricular areas such as Business Management programmes to ensure their quality and viability.

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Computing vs IT


Image via WikipediaFollowing yesterday’s post and in advance of the next few I think it is necessary to define what I mean by Computing.

For the purposes of this blog, differentiation is made between Computing (a technical discipline where programming is an example of a subject that might comprise one part of an award) and IT (as within a business discipline including areas such as word processing).

This blog concentrates on the challenges and opportunities facing Computing departments teaching Computing subjects.


Being a Gifted Speaker Isn???t a Gift


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Change This is always a good place to go for giving your brain a kick start. The various manifestos available may not always be correct (or even good), but they are always thought-provoking. This one for example by Frances Cole Jones reminds us that public speaking isn’t an inate gift but something that can be worked on. As the site says:

Despite a pervasive idea that some people areborn with a ‘gift’ for public speaking—and that this gift is the reasonthey excel when presenting themselves—my experience has proven this isn’t so. I believe that everyone can be a great speaker, and this includes you.

See if you agree.

ChangeThis :: Being a Gifted Speaker Isn’t a Gift

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dimdim is SmartSmart


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DimDim is a free, web based video conferencing utility. As they say:

With no software to download or install, Dimdim forever democratizes webbased live meetings. In seconds – right from your browser – you easily host or attend web meetings complete with audio and video conferencing, desktop and document sharing.

With Dimdim you can host meetings for up to twenty people at no cost. With no software to install it may be easier to use in institutions with locked down desktops.

Give it a try here:

Dimdim: Free Web Meeting, Free Web Conferencing, Meetup, Open Source, Net Meeting, eLearning, web conference, Unified Collaboration, Online Meetings, Online Training, Free Screen Sharing, collaboration, live meeting

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Calendar Applications Just Don’t Get Any Easier


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Busy people wouldn’t be as busy if they’d just stop trying to finfdnew ways or organising themselves and just get on with their work.

With that off my chest Deadline is, without doubt, the simplest planning application ever.

Just throw a task and a time at it and it will let you know by mail, chat, inter-galactic thought transfer, etc.

Deadline: Home