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AS ICT AQA - Web Software?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by Alycya, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Alycya

    Alycya New commenter

    I start a new post at an FE college in September, making the leap from 6th Form, and will be sole teacher for AS/A2 ICT. I haven't taught the new AQA spec much - I've been doing mostly BTEC for the last few years.
    I want them to create a website for part of their INFO1 sample work and I'm wondering what package others use? I'm not a great fan of Dreamweaver, and I'm not sure the college have a recent version anyway. I teach my BTEC students to code directly in XHTML/CSS and we only use Notepad++, but that's really not going to work for the majority of AS ICT students who aren't the techy sort.
    I've seen Microsoft Expression on Dreamspark, but I'm worried that it will just be FrontPage rebranded so haven't investigated further - has anyone used it?
    Does anyone have any recommendations? Ideally, I'd also like to use the same package for A2 with INFO4, adding an Access back-end, so I'd be interested to hear if anyone else does this.
    Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. Alycya

    Alycya New commenter

    I start a new post at an FE college in September, making the leap from 6th Form, and will be sole teacher for AS/A2 ICT. I haven't taught the new AQA spec much - I've been doing mostly BTEC for the last few years.
    I want them to create a website for part of their INFO1 sample work and I'm wondering what package others use? I'm not a great fan of Dreamweaver, and I'm not sure the college have a recent version anyway. I teach my BTEC students to code directly in XHTML/CSS and we only use Notepad++, but that's really not going to work for the majority of AS ICT students who aren't the techy sort.
    I've seen Microsoft Expression on Dreamspark, but I'm worried that it will just be FrontPage rebranded so haven't investigated further - has anyone used it?
    Does anyone have any recommendations? Ideally, I'd also like to use the same package for A2 with INFO4, adding an Access back-end, so I'd be interested to hear if anyone else does this.
    Many thanks in advance.
     
  3. I've been looking at BlueGriffon http://www.bluegriffon.org/ to use in some web dev lessons I teach. It's free and web standards friendly. I've not had a lot of time to play with it, but so far I'm really impressed.
     
  4. I personally wouldn't do a website for INFO1. Have you studied the type of questions they ask on the sample work? I suggest you do that first and pick the work best suited to answering the types of questions. For example, it is much easier to write about inputs, processes and outputs and checking validity of data for a spreadsheet or database. I do a spreadsheet and tailor all the documentation they produce to answering the exam questions.




    Also, with AQA you don't get any extra brownie points for making the work more technical eg direct coding. The emphasis is on producing a system that is fit for purpose and meets the clients requirements. You should also consider how long doing the project takes and how much it contributes to the exam (27-30%). You may be better off getting through the sample work as quick as possible and concentrating on the theory. This year even doing a simple spreadsheet my class took ages and I only just managed to get through the theory with no time to recap.




    Incidentally I do a website project for INFO4 - there's much more time to do it justice and I personally find it more interesting and relevant than a database project. We use Dreamweaver with a back-end MySql database.
     
  5. Don't do AQA ICT but use Expression Web for Edexcel e-books and e-portfolios. It is nice that you can give the kids a copy legit FOC. It is quite nice as an HTML editor for Computing as well. It is ok as a piece of web design software though.
    Downsides - there's not much in terms of books available and the last time I looked the videos on the Microsoft site were for older versions of the software. It can also be a little quirky if you are looking to put Flash content in sometimes.
    If you are going to use it, use Version 4 not 3 - it crashes much less often!!
     
  6. I agree with marthamonkey. Although it is perfectly possible to do a multimedia presentation or website, I have found from experience that the students find it harder to choose good tests for normal, erroneous and boundary data and to use appropriate validation and therefore struggle when answering questions. If you do go down the route of websites (sorry, we use Dreamweaver!) then you may have to get them to say what boundary data or validation for example is and why it cannot be tested in their chosen solution. This has gained marks in the exam before, albeit not full marks.


     
  7. Alycya

    Alycya New commenter

    Thanks for the replies. I was intending to do a spreadsheet as well for the testing part of the evidence (while I haven't personally taught much on the current AQA spec, I work in a department where we do, and have seen all the past papers and been involved in the post-exam paper analysis). However, the spec requires them to do two projects, even if they only take in evidence for one, and I'd like to do a bit of web skills, just to keep the course interesting and not overly theory heavy (although AQA have done their best to take out the practical element of the course...).
    This is why I was looking for a nice, easy website package, rather than taking lots of time to teach Dreamweaver skills.
    I'll have a look at Blue Griffin, and will explore Microsoft Expression - any other suggestions, preferably freeware (or even online web builder sites?).
    I definitely like the idea of doing a web-based project for INFO4, rather than just Access, to make it more interesting, and Dreamweaver is more suitable then when you've got some time to teach skills.
     
  8. Where in the spec does it say they need to do 2 projects at AS level? (or have I misunderstood you?)
    I've done this for 3 years now and not done 2 projects for INFO1.
    It says "Items 1 and 2 could be from the same or two different problem solutions." It doesn't require you to do 2 different ones. It does say that something about students tackling a range of problems but it doesn't REQUIRE you to do that. To be honest, anyone who can get through a range of projects, produce all the sample work stuff and teach the theory elements of which there is quite a bit, is doing pretty good or has much better students than me! I struggled to get the sample work for ONE project out of them and complete the theory as well, mind you we were trying to do that between Jan and May so it was tight. If you are doing it over a year then it may be more achievable.
     
  9. Again I agree with marthamonkey! The first year I did the course, I followed a textbook and did two solutions. time was so sparse that I ended up regretting spending precious time on a solution that would effectively be worth nothing to the students with less time to practise questions. Last two years, I have focussed on doing one really good solution that the students know inside out and can provide excellent answers. Have got 100 per cent A to B grades on INFO 1since. Wouldn't go back to doing two. There are lots of opportunities to use practical skills in the theory lessons and for INFO 4.
     
  10. Thanks for some of the advice in this blog. If anyone could send me some sample assignment brief I would much appreciate it. I have just started to teach AQA A level this year and I'm wanting to ensure all the material I have inherited suitable to get the best possible grades. Email: p.walker@whitbycc.co.uk
     

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