Tagged: CfE, Computing, Course Specification, Higher, National 4, National 5, SQA
As you will know, currently. our new CfE courses will be called Computing and Information Science at National 4, 5 and Higher/AH and will bring together elements of both current and separate Computing and Information Systems courses. There is an ongoing consultation (closes October 31st 2011) on the draft course specification for Higher level (level 4 and 5 have already closed).
If you have an opinion on what should be in the new courses, how they should be structured, and even what they should be called please comment using the SQA “Have Your Say” form (http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/41251.html).
I have already made if very clear that I’m in favour of changing the name to Computing Science and of focusing the course on creative software development and digital media but what do you think?
SQA have just published unit specifications for National 4 and National 5
National 4 – http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47449.html
National 5 – http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47456.html
The feedback on the unit specifications is open until 31st October.
Course Specifications for Computing and Information Science are available from
National 4 – http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/45643.html
National 5 – http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/45644.html
Higher – http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/46567.html
Feedback is still being sought for the Higher Course Specification and it closes on 31st October 2011 also.
Interesting to note that there have been 71 comments about the courses, many to do with the name of the course. A summary of the comments is available at http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47487.html
I am concerned about the on-going changes that are being made to Curriculum for Excellence courses without any notification to teachers. I appreciate that all the documentation that is currently available is in draft form and that changes are, therefore, inevitable. However, I do not understand why changes that are being made cannot be clearly flagged when a new piece of documentation is produced.
I recently sat down with all the currently available documentation for National 5 and created a table of items that were specified as course content across all this paperwork. My intention was to ensure that I had a comprehensive picture of the course content. What I ended up with instead was a very confusing picture of the course content. Points that were listed in the “Draft National Course Assessment Specification” suddenly dropped from National 5 to National 4 level in the “Draft Course Support Notes” and new items suddenly appeared that hadn’t been there before. When I came to the “Draft Unit Support Notes” I found that the learning outcomes for the units had even changed; in the case of the “Software Design and Development Unit” this change was enormous; learning outcomes 1 and 2 had been swapped over and reworded and learning outcome 3 had been completely rewritten. In the “Information Systems Design and Development” unit, learning outcome 3 appeared to have disappeared altogether. Moving on to the “Draft Higher Course Support Notes” (which includes a comparison table between course content for National 5 and course content for Higher) and suddenly more new material for National 5 appeared.
As I say, I appreciate that the draft nature of the documentation means that there is some fluidity in the courses as they currently stand, but I feel it is vital that it is made clear to teachers when changes are made. We need to know exactly what is really being removed, what is merely being amended and where new content is being added. Each new piece of documentation states that it should not be read in a vacuum, but as part of the whole cohort of documentation that is produced for the course. If this is really the case then newer documentation should make changes clear so that teachers are not basing things on information in older documentation which, unknown to them, is now out-of-date.
Perhaps all things will be clarified when the “final” documentation is published at the end of April, but for those of us who have to start teaching courses in August (or even June), some on-going clarity would help. Flagging up changes would be a start.
Charlie. I believe it has now been officially named as Computer Science. I hope this is the case. We will no doubt find out at the next QDT
I emailed Dave Main at the SQA and he confirmed that the course will be called Computing Science from Nat4 to AH levels.
What happened to Artificial Intelligence?
I know this may be too late in the day, but I am dismayed at the lack of AI in the new courses, especially the new Higher. “Intelligent Systems” featured more heavily in an earlier draft of the specifications, but looking at the new ones, it has been severely watered down, almost as an afterthought.
I would strongly make the case for including AI in more depth in the new courses, even if it is only as an optional unit, for the following reasons:
I fear that by reducing exposure to AI, we are missing a wonderful opportunity to make our subject more attractive to young people and to inspire them towards taking Computing Science further. Just today, BBC Scotland reported that fewer and fewer young people are choosing to study Computing – the solution to this is not more programming!!
I have sent feedback in this vein via the ‘Have your say‘ link in the SQA website, more in hope than expectation, that they will listen. I think we should at the very least have an optional unit so that teachers can make a decision on what will capture the interest of their pupils and drive uptake.
Bit of a rant, I know, but I would encourage anyone in agreement to have your say… you never know!
I would strongly agree that Artificial Intelligence should feature more heavily in National 4, 5 and Higher courses as I believe one of the most important reasons for studying Computing is that it equips all pupils with a deeper understanding and appreciation of information processes and systems.
Just as we encourage pupils to view the world in physical, chemical or biological terms we should also allow them to be able to view the world in information terms. Of course one of the most fascinating and complex information processing systems is the brain and a lot of its processes are very easy for pupils to relate to. It also provides a very rich set of contexts to develop different ways of modelling information processing systems using declarative languages.
The eventual solution might be to introduce Artificial Intelligence as a seperate qualification from National 5-Advanced Higher as it’s unlikely that there would be sufficient space in the existing Computing Science qualifications to do justice to it.
I will join you in posting my disappointment regarding Artificial Intelligence to the “Have your say” section and would encourage others to do the same.
Glad I’m not the only one! Hopefully word will spread and something may be done if they are genuinely interested in our feedback. My worry is that if we don’t do something about it now, the new courses will be set in stone for the foreseeable future, and AI will disappear.
Well put George. Fully with you on your comments.
I submitted a statement along these lines to “Have your say” a while back. Of course there is no feedback. We have included the AI option at Int2, Higher and Advanced Higher for many years. The students do enjoy this topic it certainly provides many opportunities for critical thinking. AI develops an essential viewpoint on the place of Computing in society and very much the number one driver for current and future trends in computing. Just look at the recent initiative by Edinburgh University to create the Informatics centre where many disciplines are drawn together with AI at the core.
I agree with your point about developing a viewpoint on the place of Computing in society. I do recall that in a fairly recent episode of “The Gadget Show” on channel 5, they were discussing their ‘top 5 technological advancements that will change the world’ – a rather grand title, but top of the list was the “Artificial Brain”. Incidentally, several of the other four advancements involve aspects of AI as well!
So, to have this all but absent from a modern, forward looking Computing course seems bizarre.
Did I remember rightly are we meant to be getting an update on the N4 added value unit at somepoint in March? Has anyone been asked the viability of using existing SG Programming practicial abilities etc?
I really hope we’re not going to have reheated Standard Grade programming assessments at National 4 as they don’t exactly provide the most motivating contexts for demonstrating pupils problem solving abilities. Any SQA practical assessment should provide pupils with a challenge to relish not a chore to endure. With a motivating context you get pupils to write a lot more code, fully engage in the problem solving process and provide them with a real sense of accomplishment.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.