The new site is being launched a week on Friday and I’m very excited about it.
www.modernity.scot is back to its usual url after a year of transition, on to WordPress, away from Joomla, for those of you interested in such things. It’s good to be back!
I thought I’d take this opportunity to share not just what you’ll get with the new site but also the thinking behind it. There has been some!
Back to the future
I see the new site as a bit of a new start. I’ve used the lockdown to reflect on what Modernity Scotland’s about and where it fits into the new Covid and hopefully post Covid landscape.
I changed the logo and brought back the strapline ‘complete control’. When I started the site back in 2004 as a ‘side hustle’ my aim was to demystify what goes on in qualifications like Modern Studies; to give to the reader, who would be a pupil or a parent, the full picture about what is taught, what is examined and the kind of standards one should expect for a pass.
The textbooks that were around then had lots of content, which although good, being Modern Studies, went out of date pretty quickly. SQA’s website was a bit basic and there was a general culture in education of needing to be ‘in the know’. A bit like how other professionals, lawyers or architects, to pick on two, can speak in a language only they understand.
Apart from being a great song by The Clash, complete control was about empowering pupils and parents, maybe even a few teachers too.
The name modernity was of the time too. You can have a pop at Tony Blair if you want, but he was right at the time for saying that the forces of conservatism were not just on the Right. There’s plenty of well meaning people in Scottish education who do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done. Modern Studies teachers can embrace change more than most but the institutions aren’t renowned for it.
Fired up by the ‘internet superhighway’ (remember that term?!) I got one of the first faculty head jobs when they appeared. I was full of enthusiasm for teaching Modern Studies and social subjects in general, using the new technology, such as it was back then. I also wanted the school to embrace it across all subjects and forge links with FE, universities, employers, former pupils and the wider community. The Council told me I couldn’t do this because none of the other schools in the authority had a website. The Council website would be available ‘at some point’. It was The Council website or nothing. It was like Stalin’s Russia!
The Covid reset
There’s a lot of talk of how education, like everything else, will be changed forever by the current pandemic. I had inspiring Twitter conversations with two Modern Studies teachers this week. They’ve really bitten the bullet and are giving their youngsters really meaningful tasks and using the technology in a very positive way.
I’m hoping some good will come of this terrible pandemic and if it forces decision makers in education to rethink some of the tablets of stone, so much the better.
First of all, there’s new National 5 content.
Articles, with focussed videos on Political Issues, the two social issues, USA, China and Terrorism.
I’m encouraging school subscribers to join their youngsters up individually. This enables them to work their way through the articles in the Sections themselves. Or be given particular reading for homework.
There’s a new feature on the site for youngsters to write their PEE (that’s a bona fide Modern Studies term) style notes next to the articles. And keep these for their reference.
There’s regular Zoom classes for subscribers and the schedule is on the site now.
Advice and guidance on exam questions and the assignment.
Believe me, I have gone through all the SQA Course Specs, past papers, specimen papers, marking instructions, course reports, understanding standards. I’ve filtered this advice, with links to it, so you can see them for yourself, so you should have ‘complete control’ over what the qualification is all about.
A school subscription for this course costs £100 for the year. Assuming a school has a class of 20 National 5 youngsters (and I know several schools have many more) that works out at £5 per pupil per year,
There’s new Advanced Higher (AH) content on Political Issues and Law and Order.
Learning at AH is equivalent to first year university. It is designed to be much more independent. At the same time, there needs to be guidance and support. There are not Articles in the same way there are at Higher or National 5. There can’t be. The scope is too broad and the assessment too open ended.
But there is advice and guidance on how to well in the essay questions, the research questions and the dissertation. There also are links to appropriate reading, including book suggestions, something which was great fun to put together.
Again, like for National 5, students can have their own log in and their own control (working with their teacher) over the pace of learning. Zoom catch ups too.
An AH school subscription is £100 for the year.
Higher Modern Studies
There’s coverage of the same curricular issues as National 5, which tends to be the most popular options.
There’s the same approach; articles focussed on the SQA Course spec and exam requirements.
Advice and guidance on how to tackle Higher questions and the assignment. And the option for individualised pupil accounts.
Higher is prioritised for Zoom classes. There’s a Higher Zoom every two weeks and even more in the run up to exam time.
Teachers get a wide range of focussed powerpoint lessons, updated in August.
A Higher Modern Studies school subscription is £200 for the year.
Modernity Scotland is an approved SQA provider of Higher Politics. Five youngsters this year did their Higher with us and we wish them well.
The Higher Politics subscription comes with most of the features of the Higher Modern Studies subscription. There are also audio powerpoints for pupil download.
A Higher Politics school subscription is £200 for the year.
If anyone is interested in taking Higher Politics with Modernity Scotland in 2020/21, please get in touch.
The new site goes live on May 15 which is when this year’s subscriptions begin. The design of the site will probably change this week. There’s always little glitches when you make the kind of changes I’m making so I am changing things over incrementally.
Thanks for your support, it is greatly appreciated!