Moving My Digital Home – End of an Era!

This is the last time I will be posting to this blog, having been involved in EduBuzz since its inception.  The reason: I’m setting up a new blog on the web, hosted on my own server space.  I’m still building the new blog, but you can access it here:

http://www.marktennant.uk

Goodbye EduBuzz, there’s been some good times here, but now I must venture on.  Sniff.

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Appeal to Computing Teachers

I’ve just send the email below to lead teachers I know of, and thought I’d reproduce it here in case anyone is still tuned in…

You will probably be aware of several concerns over the direction (and even future) of Computing courses in Scotland recently. Much of these were obvious at a recent SQA/ES seminar in Stirling and on CompEdNet recently.

Because of these concerns which I share, I am sending this email to encourage you to join a grass-roots organisation called CAS Scotland. This was formerly known as “SIoCE” (started by David Coull a couple of years back).

Full instructions for joining CAS Scotland are available here: http://bit.ly/joincasscotland

In a nutshell however, if you are subscribed to CompEdNet (www.compednet.com) you can join by hitting the request membership button beside the CAS Scotland group.

Why do I think this is so important?

  • CAS Scotland allows all computing teachers to speak with one voice. If enough people sign up we can go to the important players in education (Scottish Government, Education Scotland, SQA, etc) and represent the views of computing teachers with a powerful voice.
  • CAS are working on a series of short, medium and long-term plans that I am confident will lead to improvements in the quality of Computing Science education and the availability of relevant CPD to bring all of our skills up to scratch for CfE. These plans will only succeed with the support – and input – of the profession however.
  • We must raise the profile and priority of Computing Science with curruculum planners, headteachers and guidance; CAS Scotland is the only realistic option of doing this in a coordinated way.
  • Please act on your concerns and join CAS Scotland today. Feel free to forward this email on to your colleagues/re-hash as necessary and basically encourage all computing teachers to join up – before there’s none of us left to join up!!!

Yours,

Mark.

N.B. If you were previously a member of SIoCE your membership has unfotunately not transferred to CAS Scotland due to incompatabilities with the two mailing systems used. Please sign up to CAS Scotland via CompEdNet.

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Lapsed Blogger (sort of!)

Hello folks!

Talk about a long time to update – I could be counted as a lapsed blog, but my excuse (which I’m sticking to) is that I’ve been too busy sorting out a new school website on Edubuzz.  You can see the result here.

Incidentally, if you see strange things happening with this page, don’t worry – I’m just using this blog as a ‘test bed’ for trying out a few themes and options for the school.  Normal service should resume a few minutes later if you refresh the page!

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Future Qualifications

Update 7/5/08 – the full speech and following questions are available here:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-08/sor0424-02.htm#Col7863

Did anyone else read the speech by Fiona Hyslop to parliament regarding the new Qualifications that will come in with CfE?

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/news/this-week/speeches/smarter/natqual

Certainly, there is not a huge amount of detail in Fiona Hyslop’s speech but what is there I think is quite reassuring. I certainly agree in principle to the introduction of standard literacy and numeracy tests, though I wait to see how they will be implemented. Again, her words on the qualifications at SCQF levels 4 and 5 are well chosen, and I would welcome a new, simplified course structure that will hopefully take the best bits of Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications. Again, her reiteration of Higher remaining the “gold standard” and also the importance she places on Advanced Highers is welcome. Lots of people may question the removal of examined courses equivalent to Foundation, but is there really any point to testing pupils of this ability anyway?

Interesting also her comments about allowing pupils to bypass lower-level qualifications where it is clear they could do highers say, at the end of S3. The idea of a winter diet of exams also appeals to me in principle, though it probably has anyone involved in timetabling clutching their chest right now. 18 month higher – great idea, but again what about those who are perfectly capable of sitting it in 12 months? Can you run both options in one school

Anyway, that’s my $0.02 worth for the moment!

Posted in Computing, future of computing, Subject Support, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ex-Student views on Computing

I got an interesting email from a former student of Dunbar Grammar who went on to study Computer Science. He had seen some of the press coverage about the future of computing and decided to let me know his thoughts. He’s kindly allowed me to reproduce the contents of his email here.

Hi Mark,

I saw your letter in The Herald last week and thought I would write a short note of encouragement/support.

I left Dunbar Grammar School in 2001 to study Computer Science at Edinburgh University. My formal Computing education up to that point consisted of studying at Standard Grade for about two weeks, before deciding it was far too dull and defecting to Technological Studies. (A friend of mine from the same year also went on to study CS at Edinburgh. He didn’t even bother trying Standard Grade.)

So I am very familiar with every point you made about the computing curriculum and how badly it represents computer science. I don’t know about the current curriculum but when I took the subject there was no programming and no mathematics in the subject. In maths I had to know how to derive the quadratic formula from first principles; in physics it was velocity, acceleration, current and voltage; and technological studies added the properties of materials, stresses and strain. But in computing? As ever, word processing, databases, and more databases. It was treated as an “easy pass” subject at the time, totally at odds with its higher-education cousin.

I’m glad that you and others are making noise about this. I flirted with the idea of teaching maths when I left university but didn’t even consider teaching computing. How much has the curriculum changed since my day?

If there’s anything you think that a recent graduate with an interest in promoting their chosen subject can do, please let me know! I was fairly keen on the computing aspect of things at school (I designed and administered the school’s first website back then, as well as running a Silver Surfers club in S6) and I’d be happy to get back into the advocacy role! 🙂

On a lighter note, I found your blog and noticed you posted about getting an Eee PC. I got one last week and they’re awesome…

Cheers,

D

Thanks D, the encouragement and support is much appreciated.

Posted in Computing, Dunbar Grammar, future of computing, Uncategorized | 2 Comments