Microsoft IT Academy Student Pass

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Microsoft DreamSpark

The Microsoft IT Academy Student Pass is a special no-cost online learning opportunity for students. IT Academy Student Pass provides free e-learning courses to verified students who are interested in extending their technical skills with Microsoft technologies.

The IT Academy Student Pass offers 12 to 22 hours of FREE e-learning courses, aligned to the first set of topics you need to master for the first Microsoft certification exam within the track. Each track is unique, and most will require you to take additional e-learning courses to complete all of the topics you need to succeed on the certification exam.

The goal of the IT Academy Student Pass is to give you a head start by providing hours and hours of rich, award-winning e-learning content that sets the stage for the learning to come.

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HND Games – Give us Your Opinion

The Scottish Qualifications Authority are currently working on creating a new qualification – HND Games Development. As part of the process it is important that we get as many views as possible on what is required. To do that we would appreciate it if you could complete the following survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=60ncuuOlp73guIcbtAIOrA_3d_3d

It’s very short with less than a dozen questions and will take less than three minutes of your time but will be invaluable in structuring this award.

The survey will close at 5pm on the 5th of May so please don’t hesitate to follow the link and complete the survey.

Click Here to take survey

Thanks in advance.

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JISC Get On Board Open Learning Bandwagon

Good to see that JISC have thrown their weight into getting open source learning into the virtual marketplace.

With any luck this will be the push required to make it “acceptable” to institutions to share their work.

Experimental Blog: JISC09 Last Post Open Learning Resources

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But it’s better if it looks ugly…

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As part of their quest to name and shame the ugliest sites on the web Download Squad have highlighted this little educational monster.

The reasons for it being like this? The IT manager doesn’t want “his” web site to look broken. As DS say – too bad it works but looks broken.

This is yet another case of processes getting in the way of education.

Go check it out here:

Fugly Friday: it doesn’t have to be like this – Download Squad

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Open vs Closed Models of Education

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Image via Wikipedia

Educators are aware of the increasing pressures to move towards a more open, blended model of providing education. The question is, how?

This page isn’t a solution but it’s a great starting point for anyone struggling to get to grips with the differences and opportunities.

Education Innovation: The Open Model of Education

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Area #6 – Inspection Regime

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Image via WikipediaThere is a clear understanding that HMIe should inspect and ensure that teaching and learning are well implemented. In general this is the case throughout the country’s Computing departments but Computing often falls down in the concomitant performance indicators.

Where departments show good teaching and learning and the associated pastoral support of students, judgements should reflect more significantly that fact and poor attainment should be seen in the context of Computing across schools, colleges, HE and other countries as this is not a localised issue.

If this does not change, departments will further move towards choosing students solely on the likelihood of their passing the course. The knock-on effect for colleges, which have traditionally been the place for second chances, and the students, who have benefitted from those chances, will be significant. There will be a reduction in opportunities for those who wish to return to full or part time learning as the risks for the departments will be too high.

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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 #2 – Colleges

Image via WikipediaFor many years, Colleges rode the Computing boom with their departments. They looked upon Computing as a significant source of students (and funding). Now that the boom is over it is vital that colleges become fully involved in providing support for their Computing departments. This starts with being fully cognisant of the challenges facing the departments.

College management may find it challenging to understand the technicalities and skills involved in Computing. This has led to unrealistic expectations of the flexibility of Computing practitioners.

An analogy can be made to the teaching of languages. There would be no thought of walking into the work-room of a lecturer in French and announcing that, as of next week, they will teach Mandarin Chinese.

Computing lecturers are routinely asked to take classes for which they may have had inadequate professional development e.g. rather than teaching Pascal, they are asked to teach C# or rather than using Office 2003 the package of choice will be Office 2007 (and, by the way, the class starts on Thursday!). Becoming proficient in a programming language is not a trivial exercise.

Re-training, that should take several weeks of work, can be expected within days.

Colleges, who benefit from the provision of up to date courses, must provide practitioners with the necessary time, training and support required to update their skills.

(P.S. If you are not sure why moving from Office 2003 to 2007 should be a problem then I have proven my point.)

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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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