SICSA Education Director… a look back at the last four years.

by Dr Karen Petrie, SICSA Education Director

On the 1st of September 2013 I (Dr Karen Petrie, University of Dundee) replaced Professor Greg Michaelson (Heriot-Watt University) as the SICSA Director of Education.  This included taking over as HE representative on a number of boards including the Skills Development Scotland ICT Investment Plan implementation group and the Advanced Higher Qualification Development Team.

It has been a very busy 4 years, but I feel that we achieved a lot. Some of the highlights for me were:

  • Admission Criteria Round-Table: The majority of the University admissions tutors for computing in Scotland met with representatives of the school sector (including computing teachers and the SQA) to discuss admission criteria. Following this meeting 7 Universities in Scotland decided to endorse the new Curriculum for Excellence qualifications by recommending Higher Computing Science for entrants.
  • SICSA Education Ministerial Visit (Women in Computing). A women in computing event was held in the University of Dundee as part of the Scottish Government focus on Young People week that coincided with the launch of the ICT Skills Investment Plan. The speakers at this event included Shona Robison MSP who has Equality within her portfolio.  Members of the computing industry and academic also shared best practice for recruiting and retaining women in the ICT industry.
  • The inception of Education Short themes; the first two short themes were:
    1. Towards a Continuum in School to University Computing Education which is lead by Richard Connor, University of Strathclyde along with Quintin Cutts, University of Glasgow and Greg Michaelson, Heriot Watt University;
    2. Recruiting and Supporting Women in Computing. Which is lead by Ishbel Duncan, University of St Andrews and Alison Pease, University of Dundee. It will STEM secondary school activities, which are being coordinated by Natalie Coull, University of Abertay.

This morphed in to our current workshop call which is open to all.

  • We organised an education conference in partnership with SICSA Education, Computing at Schools, Scotland, BCS, College Development Network, ScotlandIS, Education Scotland and the School of Computing at the University of Dundee. All these education based groups joined forces to organise an education conference in Dundee on Saturday 7th of November, 2015.  This followed on from the success of three annual conferences looking at Computing Science in Primary and Secondary schools.  The partnership with SICSA Education provided an academic and research strand, and partnering with ScotlandIS and College Development Network provided an industry and vocational strand. This was the first ever conference in Scotland to bring people together with interests in computing education from primary teachers to HE academics including those from industry.
  • We organised a CPD event for Computing school teachers with Education Scotland to cover the new topics in the new Advanced Higher Computing Science syllabus.

We provided sponsorship for several events aimed at school children including:

  • Transport for young people to be able to attend the YRS Festival of Code
  • A bus to get attendee to the SICSA Christmas Cyber-lectures.
  • The First Lego League
  • A digital response to a Green Year

There have also been more workshops organised by members of the SICSA community than I can recount and at least 3 new lecturer inductions!

I have represented SICSA on several committee including:

  • The Data Lab (an SFC funded innovation centre) Education board
  • The Scottish Government Digital Skills: Industry – Education and Training Strategy boardThe Digital Skills academy advisory board (became Code Clan)
  • E-placement Scotland advisory board
  • Computing at Schools, Scotland
  • SQA Computing Qualifications steering group
  • Skills Investment Plan for ICT (in Scotland)
  • SFC Digital Skills working group
  • BCS Scotland committee

It has been a very busy 4 years for me, but I do not think I have ever learned so much in such a condensed period of time!

That brings me to the main point of the blog which is to say a huge thank you to all of the people I have worked with throughout the years. There have been times when it has not been easy but your support has always helped me through.

I am especially grateful to Aileen and Steven, who have never said we do not have time to help you with another one of your “good ideas”, even though they would have been more than justified in doing so!