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 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.


Last Call for Computing Conference


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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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Rating Rats


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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