Area #3 – Funding

Bottom line – money talks.

When deciding on a funding model for Computing students, the SFC (Scottish Funding Council) must look beyond its standard model and consider the work involved in delivering the Computing curriculum.

To illustrate the challenges, we can consider programming. As noted before, to become a proficient programmer it is necessary to spend significant time developing knowledge and skills – time that is not always available. This leads to practitioners that may not, potentially, have the skills to ensure learner engagement with the programming language.

The inevitable outcome of this problem is that colleges throughout the country are removing computing awards that incorporate programming from their prospectuses. The knock on effect for industry will be a dearth of programmers, just as the requirement increases.

To address this problem, Computing courses that incorporate programming units should be funded in a similar way to music courses where practical units are given double SUMs. This will translate to more time available to staff to teach the more challenging units.

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Scottish Computing – An Agenda for Change

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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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