Area #5 – Course Standards

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Image via WikipediaThere is no doubt that Computing qualifications show clear progression routes. What is less clear, however, is that units across different curricular areas, that are notionally of the same standard, actually involve the same degree of difficulty. There is anecdotal evidence that Computing subjects are subjectively more difficult than in other curricular areas. This could impact on retention and attainment for the subject.

SCQF must undertake to look at the levelling of courses on a cross-curricular level to ensure that standards are equal across them. Until this is done comparisons between different college departments will be invalid.

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Area #1 – Practitioners

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Image by confusedvision via FlickrIt was clear during our workshops on the future of computing that everyone knew exactly where the problem lay and, of course, it was never with us, the practitioners. It seems right, therefore, that I start this short series by addressing an area where we as practitioners can change.

The flexibility of courses offered by colleges is intimately bound to the skills and competencies of the staff. Too often, however, the provision of courses is hindered by the lack of available skills and the unwillingness of practitioners to expand their skill base.

The apotheosis of this is the situation, all too common throughout the country, where practitioners have ‘their subjects’ or, at the extreme, where practitioners keep the same timetable for several years.

This is not to say that practitioners should not have their specialist subjects. Computing is too broad to allow an in depth knowledge of all aspects of computing. It is vital, that to fully address the ongoing challenges facing Computing, practitioners become, and remain, as flexible as possible.

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Be Realistic

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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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