Archive for September, 2012

SQA official games development curriculum

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

The official curriculum for NPA Computer Games Development is now available on the SQA Academy. It is filed under Support Materials for NCs and NPAs.

Here’s a direct link to the games curriculum – if you’re prompted for a login, just press the button marked ‘Login As Guest’.

The curriculum covers levels 4, 5 and 6 and all of the three Computer Games units.

Links to the unit descriptors:

Computer Games: Design
Level 4 unit | Level 5 unit | Level 6 unit

Computer Games: Media Assets
Level 4 unit | Level 5 unit Level 6 unit

Computer Games: Development
Level 4 unit | Level 5 unit | Level 6 unit


E-Assessment Scotland 2012 – part two

September 2, 2012 5 comments

Continued from Part One

I’ve been interested in gamification for some time but have only just begun looking at gamifying a unit that I currently teach. Somewhat related to gamification is Open Badges, which is a way of awarding achievement with digital badges that can be displayed and managed on the web (think of modern day Scout or Guide style badges). It’s also similar to the ‘achievements’ available in some video game systems such as XBOX Live, so I think it is something that could have meaning for some students.

At E-Assessment Scotland I went along to Doug Belshaw’s seminar to find out more and discovered that it’s possible to create and issue your own badges related to any subject you want. The badges contain a unique identifier so that they identify the person that it’s awarded to (so it’s easy to check if someone has stolen a badge), and that badges can be endorsed by individuals or organisations (a mark of credibility). In fact, it’s quite possible for badges to be used in place of certificates for courses or qualifications.

Although Open Badges is still at an early stage of development I think I will investigate further and try to introduce the system to some of my college classes this year.

Doug was followed by June Wigfield & Caroline Patterson of Stevenson College in Edinburgh. Their presentation, Collaborative Eventful Assessments, spoke about integrating a Digital Culture unit with their course in Events Management so that their students could benefit from using information technology and gain credit for it. They have been using online collaboration software called Zoho and are looking at using virtual worlds to facilitate communication and meetings between students.

The final keynote of the day was from Cristina Costa of the University of Salford, who presented Feeding Forward – The Role of the Participatory Web in Formative Assessment. The presentation continued the theme of feedback and looked at digital tools to enable feedback and reflection. Cristina advocated the use of social networks and collaborative tools for this purpose.

It’s always good to attend a conference that sparks ideas and genuinely makes you change your established practice. Sadly with education budget cuts it is becoming increasingly difficult to attend conferences and external CPD events. This is even moreso the case for classroom teachers, and many conferences end up being attended by managers rather than practitioners. During my wait in the queue at the start of the conference I chatted briefly with one of the other delegates who asked if I’d attended before. I hadn’t and she said she was certain I’d enjoy the day as it was definitely a conference for practitioners. She was right!

E-Assessment Scotland 2012

September 1, 2012 3 comments






This was the first time I’d attended this conference and I have to admit I had a preconception the conference might be too narrowly focussed to be interesting. Fortunately I was proved wrong and found a great variety of workshops and seminars and lots of thought provoking discussion.

Held at the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee, E-Assessment Scotland 2012 was very well attended and the programme featured dozens of keynotes, workshop and seminars.

I was presenting a seminar myself in the morning, so only managed to attend seminars in the afternoon.

The opening keynote by Professor David Boud of the University of Technology Sydney focussed on feedback given to students. He challenged the way that feedback is used by teachers and presented 3 models of using feedback that showed how feedback was most often used and how it could be used more effectively. This keynote set a tone for the rest of the day and many of the later presenters picked up on Professor Boud’s thought-provoking studies.

I spoke with the Professor afterwards and we discussed some recent teaching and learning topics such as MOOCs, the flipped classroom and technology. I asked what his next area of research might be and thought that while it was good to look for new innovations, sometimes it was good to look at things that are ‘right under our noses’ and take for granted – such as feedback. He reckoned that there was still a lot of research to be done on feedback, so that would be his continuing focus. It was also good to hear from the Professor that he still has pre-conference nerves (something I think most presenters suffer from), and always wonders if sharing his research at a conference will present the audience with something worthwhile, or if it will just be ‘stating the blindingly obvious’! I can reassure him that wasn’t the case and his research definitely had an impact on how I viewed feedback.

I shared a seminar slot with Dr. Keith Smyth, Julia Fotheringham and Karen Strickland, Edinburgh Napier University who presented Structuring Online Assessment to Support Progression in Professional Practice. I confess that I didn’t hear much of their presentation as I was preparing for my own, but their research must have been good as they received one of this year’s E-Assessment Awards.

My own presentation, Investigating MOOCs, examined the fairly recent phenomenon of Massive Open Online Courses. The session was well attended and provoked a lot of questions and conversation about the validity of MOOCs and whether they posed a serious challenge to more traditional education pathways.

During lunch I was invited to speak on EduTalk who were livestreaming from the conference. During the session Sheila MacNeill, Assistant Director of JISC Cetis and I chatted with John Johnston about the conference and about the theme of feedback and its importance to learners. The Edutalk site contains a list of recordings from the conference – tagged eas12.

I had a real ‘face-palm’ moment during Russell Stannard’s afternoon keynoteChanging the Way We Provide Feedback. He was demonstrating his use of screen capture technology to provide feedback on assessments. Although he was using it for written assessments – highlighting problem areas and suggesting solutions, I immediately saw it as a useful tool for analysing photographs. I’ve been using screen capture tools such as for years, and I had never considered using it in this way with my photography students. This is certainly an area of practice I’ll change in the coming year, however I may not be able to use it extensively as it is always difficult to find a suitable place at work to do recordings without background noise and interruptions. Coincidentally, just as I was having my face-palm moment, my pal Ian Guest tweeted the following:

Wonder if @camaxwell could use similar tools to those described by@russell1955 but to comment on students’ photo imagery? #eAS12

Part two to follow…