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Lets Save DiDa

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by gq52, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. I'm disappointent by the suggestion that Edexcel is not planning to put DiDa forward for reaccreditation and want to give them feedback from those of us who still teach and value the course. I've taught it from the pilot and our students appreciate it and opt for it so I don't want to see it go.
    If you still teach DiDa and want it to continue past 2013, please add a message to this thread and hopefully Gareth from Edexcel can take notice on our behalf.
    If you tweet, Tweet a message using #saveDiDa hashtag, lets see what happens.....
  2. No, let's not. There is a family of noddy 'qualifications' which are responsible for ict getting the 'easy / joke' reputation it has and which will probably result in the subject disappearing in a year or two. Dida is one of them.
  3. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    Pair of you need to get sorted - posting on this forum gone midnight is really beyond sanity. [​IMG]
    DiDA got it wrong at the start - and caused major problems for people. Those who like it and use it ought to be allowed to continue to. It needs more units and better moderation but other than that it seems better than many qualifications available.

  4. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I think my specific concern about DiDA is the nature of the tasks, and they way they encourage, in some cases, questionnable ICT practice such as collecting data in a spreadsheet, copying it into a database to perform some queries, and then copying the results back. Surely it would be better to leave it up to the student how to perform the task, and create autonomous and creative users of ICT?
    I am also convinced that wholly portfolio-based qualifications just encourage teaching to the course, and certainly don't encourage mastery of the skills required. I would argue that some form of examined element is essential for courses such as DiDA and OCR Nationals to be credible.
    I made this latter point to someone from OCR last week, and he looked surprised, as though no-one had ever mentioned it before. When other teachers agreed with me, he said he could see my point and would note my concern.
  5. ROFLOL.

    The day ocr note anyone's concerns and actually make any changes to anything as a result will be a red letter day indeed. Many teachers know of the 10 years of concern-raising over the desperately bad project 1a and the constantly changing requirements for project 2 in the old gcse ict specification.10 long, frustrating years of concerns and not one single change in all that time. There is a very clear message from ocr: "Bog off, we are not interested. Just give us your money".
  6. I have no idea where your idea about data handling like this comes from, I've certainly never seen or taught anything remotely like the scenario you describe and I've taught it from the pilot onwards! It's never even been hinted at in the guidance notes either. Definitely a case of a teacher building more complexity in to the task than ever expected!
    Data analysis with a spreadsheet has always involved use of formulae & functions and/or filtering, perfectly valid methods. The database task has always been about table stucture & validation, testing & importing data, creating data entry forms, queries and reports. All solid and valid skills.
    As for students being autonomous, if all teachers taught the wider range of skills and concepts rather than to the tasks then they come out of it all the better for it. Personally I do it the right way, then we discuss the SPB tasks and they get on with it. Sadly others do teach to the tasks, due in no small measure to the pressure of '2 for the price of 1' for the sake of school's % score. That is a wider issue and nothing to do with the DiDA qualification per se.
    I have yet to see a course that encourages 'mastery of skills'. Mastery requires frequent repetition of skills and concepts and students do not have the time nor opportunity for that. The armed forces recognise this and treat skills as perishable, something we all should recognise.... Spreadsheet skills are a prime example quoted frequently on this forum!
    As for eportfolio basedwork, I get my students to build their eportfolio structure at the start and add to it as they comlete each task. This does give repetition of some skills at least and improves quality as a result. It also drastically reduces the last minute scramble and pressures that adds too. Testing as they go along is easier too and certainly makes my life easier too
    Maybe, but it is ICT, not computing so something short and appropriate only.
    Oh, and that essentially turns them back in to a GNVQ, which was essentially the root of all that has devalued ICT to the cash cow it is so often used for now.......
    I'm not being just pro DiDA here - I've taught the the full spread of IT & ICT courses in 20 odd years and seen them all become formulaic in their delivery in most schools. I just happen to believe DiDa is one of the best I've seen and delivered and the students enjoy it (eventually, in some cases) and can produce great work if they are made to look at high quality examples from the real world before designing and creating their own solutions to tasks.
    I know many teachers hate it because of the assessment side of things but thankfully I've got to grips with it and have a system that works for me and my staff 9and many others who have tried it too). We don't want to switch either and I think it will be a sad loss if Edexcel do let it disappear.
    I hope Gareth reads this and takes note!

    Note - I have no intention of getting involved with a petty slanging match with a previous poster. Pointless and needless.
  7. I second this, save DiDa - although maybe tweak it a little.

    It's one of the few that provide a nice bridge between soft ICT (waste of time) and proper double-award/computing.

    Keep keep keep.
  8. Yes - keep DiDA.
    Well at least until there is a better alternative. Could do with a little tweak here and there but overall a very good course
  9. I like DiDA. It's flexible so I can have kids working on different tasks in the same class. The year 11's all recognise that they have actually improved their ICT skills. This years Unit One topic on healthy eating and living meant they also learnt a little about improving their lifestyles. The level one course is great for those with low literacy skills and little english and it works for those who have intermittent attendance.
    I think they should keep it.
  10. My problem is with "equivalence". Employers and Colleges do not treat it as equivalent to GCSE whether it is or not!
  11. gavcradd

    gavcradd New commenter

    DiDA could have, and should have, been an excellent course. it wasn't, because of a few issues :
    1) The guidance given in the marking schemes was awful - In the first year, I genuinely had no idea whether work that students were doing was a Distinction standard or a fail standard based on the marking schemes. I finally achieved success when I ignored what was written down and just thought about quality. It says something that I only managed to pass OSCA when I threw the marking schemes away!
    2) Support from Edexcel in the first few years was also awful. I was given wrong advice time after time and always used to ring back to double check any answer that was given because I simply didn't trust them. One time, I spent a weekend checking 50+ portfolios because someone on the phone had given me the date for GCSE coursework submission, not DiDA work submission.
    3) Why oh why do they not accept Word documents? Some of my low ability students wasted hours of their time re-typing documents that they had converted to PDF but not saved in Word format, so were unable to edit when thye discovered something wrong.
    4) Results dipped dramatically. The year before we'd achieved 100% A*-C at GCSE (AQA Spec A) and got over 50% A*s from approx 90 kids. The next cohort did DiDA and not a single one gained a Distinction. The following year, we changed to OCR Nationals and the majority got Distinctions.
    However, I do admit that it had its good points :
    1) I liked the e-portfolio submission model
    2) The use of OSCA to make sure standards were right was very, very useful
    3) The tasks were genuinely interesting and stretched the students.
    4) I like the idea of it being independent.
    All in all, a mixed course. I'm not going to join any fight to save it.
  12. DiDA genuinely challenges students if you teach it well - keep
  13. Training_2_Teach

    Training_2_Teach New commenter

    Please keep DiDA - it's soo much challenging than the nationals and it saved us sooo much money on paper and the kids really enjoyed it. the only negative thing was the dip in results for us which resulted us in taking the nationals.
  14. Quick update - I emailed Gareth Byrne , the ICT subject adviser at Edexcel. His reply is quoted below:
    Not positive news as such, but not the absolute negative that others have been quoted either.
    I strongly advise everyone who wants DiDA to continue to post here and email Gareth directly at
    Keep the messages coming here too. Pity the DiDA forums I used to run died a death through lack of use.....
  15. Gareth,
    If you are reading this. You have no idea about the passion that many schools around the country have for DIDA. It is a great qualification that offers genuine flexibility.
    I speak to many colleagues and there is one unaninmous view. It is a
    qualification that CANNOT go, and there is a genuine sense of
    frustration and confusion as to why Edexcel won't even attempt to extend
    its accredidation or go to 'DIDA 2'
    As for those DIDA critics (i.e. HoDs who have gone the noddy route with OCR Nationals), I think they are usually typifed by a. they once tried DIDA and it made a complete a$$ of it by teaching to the test (idiots! should have actually read the specification) and b. were in at the start and got their fingers burnt by the shocking quality of moderation in the first few years.
    DIDA Cannot go!!!
  16. gavcradd

    gavcradd New commenter

    So which one am I? As HoD, we tried DiDA for one year then dropped it. I did read the specification; in fact, I spent many hours trying to figure out what the bloody hell was being asked for. I went through OSCA, went to training courses and spoke to many people at Edexcel and I was still none the wiser. In fact, I clearly remember a meeting at Thomas Telford school where two people from Edexcel were arguing in front of us about how to apply the mark scheme. You even admit yourself that the quality of moderation in the first few years (ie, when I tried it) was shocking. Why on earth should I give it another go?

    If things genuinely have improved then I think you'd be much better trying a campaign along those lines - maybe relaunching the qualification with improvements (acceptance of Word documents being one) and a clear push on how it;'s improved. Maybe then you'd win people over rather than insulting them with your "noddy" comments.
  17. I personally found the guidance to be very accurate, almost too specific in places and not enough tolerance outside of what was specified in order to achieve a distinction. As for Word documents, you could have converted the PDF documents back to Word again to save re-typing? Why not advise them to do this instead of wasting time re-typing it all out again? I would guess they only accept PDF documents because these cannot be easily edited or amended even by accident. A good thing or not? I'm undecided, but it does make their work more professional. If in the end results are the key because you have some numpty vice head or head/principal breathing down your neck to keep your job then sounds like AQA or OCR is the way to go. But if you really want to stretch the students and make them learn, DiDa was/is a positive step forward though it takes a year or two to bed in, even if a little shaky at the beginning. Remember it's a switch in direction/subject for both pupils, teachers and examining board, none are going to be experts right off the mark.
  18. gavcradd

    gavcradd New commenter

    AQA is the way to go to get easy results? I'm talking about the AQA GCSE ICT, spec A - you must be the first person in the world to equate that to an "easy" route to high grades. We got 50% A*s for that qualification through a hell of a lot of hard work - I don't appreciate the insinuation that it's easy.

    Have you ever done a GCSE ICT course? What are your results like?
  19. I have re-read what I wrote a few times and I don't anywhere where I said it was "easy"? I said if results are the key then attempt AQA or OCR. Nor did I mention either that taking AQA would equate to achieving a majority of A or A* grades - getting that always takes hard work no matter what board.
  20. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    If DiDA stays EdExcel PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE keep the requirement that a WORD file is totally unacceptable!
    This was the best decision ever made by an exam board.

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