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back to article Exam board to hear appeal over format cockup

An IT class at a school in Lincolnshire will be allowed to appeal after failing their diploma because they submitted their work in the wrong formats, including Microsoft Word. Exam board Edexcel said today that it had agreed with Cotelands School that the 29 students affected by would be allowed to appeal. They will resubmit …

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Stu
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Fail?

Surely if they left hyperlinks to documents on the school's servers, they should just be failed, as they clearly know less than nothing about IT...?

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But what format did they want

The mystery is just what format do they want it in? Is this another case of Office 2007 problems?

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Boffin

now it makes sense

So following the hysteria yesterday, it now appears that the school, which was already having to merge with another due to p!ss poor performance, is the one to blame.

I wonder just what will happen to the teacher in this case? I know up here in sunny (but bloody cold) Scotland a teacher was struck off for professional incompetance - news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/tayside_and_central/7762518.stm

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Gates Horns

ODF all round then!

That should avoid any future cock-ups!

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Coat

Title required

My irony meter is off the chart that something as simple as word processor document caused such a f**k-up between IT students, an IT school and IT examinators. It's too much, it really. They all fail, really.

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Eh?

"using Word format inappropriately"

How do you do that then? Sounds like the school were using more up-to-date software than Edexhell...

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IT Angle

they got what was coming to them

"e-portfolios with links to documents that remained inaccessible on the school's internal servers"

they deserve to fail! one of the first things i was taught at school was about relative and absolute file linking.

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Boffin

What no word reader

I looked at the list of installed items on the examiners computers and thought it rather strange no word viewer, I mean you could just simply ignore all macro code or make it a requirement no macro's to be included in submitted work, having to submitted as a pdf is technically a bind but then again maybe they should use something smart like open office which automatically includes a "save as pdf" option just goes to show what can happen, also before it was submitted surely the links to internal files on the server should have been resolved and the files included or at least had the e-folio checked over by the teacher, they do still have those in schools don't they it's not just pupils in front of screens teaching themselves is it....

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Flame

Those that can't... teach....

I used to teach DiDA before going back to industry after becoming increasingly sick of fighting against the stupidity of it all - it CLEARLY states in all of the documentation that work has to be submitted in PDF format onto the eLearning system.

It strikes of incompetence on the part of the teaching staff that pupils were allowed to upload in other formats - part of the course is aimed at saving the work in PDF format during the lab work and then uploading towards the end of each module.

On every course I went on regarding AiDA, DiDA and CiDA, it was reinforced that you had to have PDF generation utilities to submit the work in a platform independent format - and this was to be addressed in the first few labs.

The school and the IT department should be held accountable for not checking and following up on this sooner. In my previous jobs I was accountable for ensuring that all pupils submitted work in the correct format, it's a simple two minute task at the end of a lab.

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Rat

School cocks up and students suffer

Nothing in that article explains to me why the students are being made to pay for what is clearly an administrative cockup by the school.

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Bronze badge

meh

"they deserve to fail! one of the first things i was taught at school was about relative and absolute file linking."

Hopefully they also taught you that regardless of which of those you use, you also need to copy in the files being linked to, which was the real problem.

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the list is ambiguous

as it says the examiners will have this

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

microsoft office compatability pack

which is an upgrade to office...

as someone who receives CVs in word format i kinda side with the examiners..

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Coat

Dafties in IT

I bet the fonts weren't standard or embedded either.

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Clarity

"It's almost part of the test to be able to save in the correct format"

So it isn't, then?

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eh?

How can the allowed software for the moderators include MS Excel Viewer 2k3, but not MS Word Viewer (2k7 version which will deal with .docx files) ?

I thought that .xls was also a Microsoft proprietary format, if so it looks like Edexcel are being just a tad inconsistent in refusing documents saved as Word format, but accepting spreadsheets in Excel format.

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Fail ^n

"Moderators have been instructed not to open any *.exe applications"

so, .com , .msi, .bat, etc., etc., are OK, then?

Maybe it's time for the BOFH to wander into Edexcel (Edfail?) with a fully charged cattleprod and the PFY after a particularly turbulent affaire of the heart.

Lego renactment please

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Anonymous Coward

Common sense needed.

If you were marking the work you would be dumb not to notice that all submissions from a certain school were in the wrong format and that all links didn't go somewhere. Would you flag it up as something going wrong with the system and not that the students were thick.

H

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Unhappy

Quite clear really

Neither the school, nor the examining body understands what they're teaching and testing. Poor kids, studying is bad enough but under these conditions.... The only allowable doc format is .pdf - no rtf even.... Wouldn't survive a day in a customer facing environment. Or do these people class html as a document format? That would be strange indeed...

I wonder what the qualification is really worth - .zip probably, but that's also an unsupported format.....

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Re: What no word reader

But they have got the MS Compatibility pack..... which is only usable with MS Office, and as Office isn't on the list it's pointless, notwithstanding *somebody* wasn't paying attention.

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Got to pity those kids

it sounds to me like the teacher not only didn't read the format rules but was stunningly incompetent and should be looking for employment in another field.

Linking back to material stored on an inaccessible intranet server?

it boggles the mind.

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Anonymous Coward

@Gordon

I think the point is not whether or not it's possible to read the word document, but that they failed to follow what were presumably clear instructions! There is no facility for submitting in word format, so they shouldn't have done. Full-stop.

The amount of students at degree level I find who are incapable of following instructions, but very capable of moaning when they get marked down for it, is depressingly large.

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Anonymous Coward

Not surprised

When I took my ITIL exam, a bloke came into the room with some "British Computer Society" pencils and we had to fill in little boxes on bits of paper. I haven't done that since 1988.

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Why not word

OK, the links to local resources is inexcusable but why are edexcel not accepting word. Lets face it, kids are very likely to be required to use it in the work place. What's more, .ppt is in the list!

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plainly daft

The examiners computers can't read a .txt file ? What sort sort of a computer can't read plain text ?

When an incompetent teacher missubmits or misinstructs a class, why was the first reaction to call the class failures ?

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Stop

Ugh..

They mention "Excel"/"xls" AND "PowerPoint"/"ppt" in their list, surely they should accept something else created by MS Office. This is just ludicrous nitpicking by Edexcel.

Sure, I could see not accepting something created by a word processor nobody's heard of but in this case, it's a mainstream format utilized by hundreds of businesses, schoolboards, universities, colleges and other organizations.

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every kid should have a computer

... but not have the ability to do anything with it that resembles following instructions.

This was an exam / qualification, more due care was needed especially regarding the linking, which is a major failure in my view.

Imagine telling your client that the system you install for them does not work as most of the included files are on your dev server with hard links.

Fail for the school and fail for kids... otherwise we will continue to have IT illiterate numpties who can't spell coming into the work place.

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Anonymous Coward

Acceptable formats hardly acceptable....

The so-called acceptable formats are a complete nonsense. The bias towards Microsoft is totally unacceptable. Why are there no alternative options? This brilliantly exposes the dangers of using proprietary formats rather than open standards such as Open Document Format.

Of course we should also mention the vast cost-savings that could be achieved if the education system would only see the light and adopt open-source, often free, operating-systems and applications. Goodness, even the students might benefit too !

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Stop

WTF

why do they have "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack" installed but no Microsoft Office!!!!

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JCL

formats

hmm, so they could submit excel spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations, but not word documents. Why would that be?

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Hmmm.

Perhaps the teachers need to take that course as well? Sounds like they haven't got a clue, especially with the bit about links to documents stored on local servers.

Those who can't, teach?

(Oh, and I can say that, given that 2 of my direct family are qualified teachers!).

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Unhappy

should have used open source

Should have used open office. However if they were told the required format and didn't use it then they should fail and as for the schools mistake, makes you wonder at the competency of the teaching.

spud@myezdial.com

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Point-missing on a vast scale

Can all the people posting comments along the lines of "There's no excuse for Edexcel not accepting Word .doc files, they're so common and everyone uses MS these days" try to hang on to the point that the course requirements specifically state that portfolios have to be submitted as a .pdf?

The school submitted portfolios that didn't meet the stated requirements of the course and didn't contain all the necessary files to display properly; as a result, they were all marked down. What else should Edexcel have done? The teacher, and the school more generally, are the ones at fault here. They failed in their duty towards their students and buggered up everyone's work. It has nothing to do with whether Edexcel's computers have Office installed or not.

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xjy
Paris Hilton

If...

The kids should go on the rampage the way the Greek kids are doing now. Bloody Lincolnshire. Now if they'd tried this bollocks in Brixton or Liverpool or Glasgow - fireworks! Or do like the public school oiks in If and shoot up the place with semi-automatics. Educellhell should be paraded around somewhere interested in educational values like Boro north of the tracks in dunces hats and placards saying "I hate jobless yoof" (like Bruce Willis in one of the Die Hards). The school management too. Leave the teaches alone - it's a miracle any of them stay in the job at all (a mate of mine cut a deal once - half the period telling jokes, the other half doing maths. Another mate turned his back on the little loves to write something on the blackboard and got half a motorbike engine chucked at his head...).

Enough. Word...

An education system thick as pigshit and twice as clarty.

(Paris cos she would hire someone to make mincemeat of them to feed to her bitches.)

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Stop

Failing not a bad option?

Some people (not all) seem to be concentrating on the school and their liability, but if you're in IT, shouldn't you have at least a *small* clue about hyperlinks inside a private network? As in, "if this document leaves the building, my links go bye-bye" kind of knowledge?

Maybe that should be part of the test (smirk)

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Anonymous Coward

Who the hell made the upload program?

And why does it allow files that arn't considered correct for the exam board to be uploaded in the first place.

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Linux

Aaaaaaaaaargh

Even Linux lovers can do .doc files. Were there many Java 3D submissions this year? And no .txt content? PDF is a proprietary format - the reader's free but Acrobat certainly isn't. And spare a thought for those poor Mediator 7 users. It's a miracle only one school failed on this.

@AC 13:45 - Looks like you didn't check the guidance either - more than pdf is acceptable.

Some of this row is about standards and consistency, and that list of file formats is anything but. The old Department of Education (or whichever of many several forgettable acronyms they'd like to use) offer techie help on their web site @ http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/help/technical/download01.shtml for people having trouble with .doc files, including a link to M$. Pity no-one found it.

These poor kids had no chance, with clots at the school and the Edexcel universal fail translation service waiting in the wings.

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Paris Hilton

Oh please.... this is obvious why doc/docx isnt allowed

Doc/Docx are editable with ease.

The exam board say PDF so that it lowers the risk of it being edited after the submission date.

Duh?

Paris, because you can edit her easily.

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Re: Office Compatibility Pack

It's not just for office. You can download it for the viewers so that they can open the 2007 formats. See here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

I believe with a patch Works 9 will also use the compatibility pack as well.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Gordon Grant

Only someone using Office on Windows could be moronic enough to state that creating a PDF is "technically a bind" - it isn't and is as trivial as saving or printing for those of us who are not slaves to the MS ecosystem. With respect to the comments about Word being a standard in industry... That it may well be, but I can guarantee you as someone working for the worlds largest publisher, if you send us a .docx file, you are not going to have any joy whatsoever trying to get us to accept it. It would require IT to install and test either 1. the compatibility plug-ins for Office 2003 or 2. install Office 2007 business-wide. Neither of which is going to happen this decade. The .doc format is not the standard you are making it out to be.

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Title?

Seems like the teacher responsible needs to go back to school. I'm not surprised by this though, I've seen questions / info on some younger family members IT homework that were completely wrong. You then get the kid saying that that's what they've been taught so they repeat the misinformation to get the marks. No wonder 80%+ of the population struggle with simple computer-related things, it's a vicious circle of stupidity.

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Stop

Only Dave has seen the point...

doc files can be edited by the examiner, so it's impossible to guarantee what was submitted is exactly what was opened and marked. There'd be no way to appeal or prove the mark is correct.

The Excel and Powerpoint packages listed are VIEWERS ONLY, so files submitted can't be altered. There is no Word viewer, so they've gone for pdf. The examiner will have a pdf viewer and not an editor.

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Silver badge

Desserved fail

Do not follow the instructions -> fail

How difficult is it to understand?

And NO, the compatibility pack DOESN'T mean -or even imply- that they can open MSWord document. They do accept .ppt and .xls files (for some strange reason), and that's why they have the compat pack. Not accepting MSWord formats is a good thing, especially as it's never been intended as a printout format (not to mention, you know, them being an ugly swarm of incompatible crappy formats very prone to virus infection). HTML and PDF are much more sensible choices (fonts should be embedded, too). And, guess what? They do accept both.

@ all the blah blah blah "de facto industry standard" blah blah blah sheeple, 2 things: firstly, MSWord formats are widely used because lots of people only accept that (and not the contrary), so if people actually start to request other, more sensible formats, no-one will use .doc or.docx anymore. Problem solved. Secondly, if I love Japan and plan to go get my Edexcel-approved skills to good use in, say, Tokyo, am I allowed to hand my work in Japanese? After all, that's what I will use in my work environment, so shurely Edexcel should accept it! Or not?

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Paris Hilton

Who else has a kid doing GCSE ICT?

I have one and the course is pretty pathetic in that it seems to be more of a training exercise in Word, Excel, Powerpoint and MS Moviemaker (or whatever it's called) and web searching. Why don't they teach them something useful like assembler?

No wonder the country is going to the dogs.

Paris because with her movie making skills she ought to be able to walk through a GCSE ICT exam.

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Boffin

Re: Oh please.... this is obvious why doc/docx isnt allowed

I'm pretty surprised at all those people who bitch and moan about doc(x) not being allowed, and not realizing the actual reason to do this!

Plus, PDF supports digital signatures since Acrobat 4.0 at least, so if they use that as well, they can also protect the PDF against tampering by the more tech-savvy students.

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@ Daniel Bennett

"The exam board say PDF so that it lowers the risk of it being edited after the submission date."

You know this or you are bullshitting?

Why are other editable formats allowed (ppt, excel, etc.)?

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Happy

WordPerfect 5.1

... for DOS.

Brilliant WP still use it. No one has problems opening its files in Word or any other “modern” word-processor.

<dies laughing>

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Coat

@AC

It seems to me that common sense is neither required nor prevalent in the modern "education" system - spending any time with Academics (particularly those in "higher" education) only serves to reinforce that belief.

Once again we're demonstrating what happens when people are scored on effort rather than results.

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Alert

Re-submit with no changes?

But how will EdeXel know if there have been changes? They can't read the original documents in Word format so they won't be able to check!

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Anonymous Coward

Wintards out in droves...

This thread exposes the complete absence of any knowledge that so many Wintards have:

1. PDFs are not "technically a bind" to produce for anyone who is not tied to the MS teat - only someone who has never used anything other than Windows and Office could possibly write that - it is a mere matter of saving or printing a file for those of us who are not hobbled by ignorance and a shite platform or office suite.

2. PDF is an open standard and not proprietary (and unlike OOXML, Adobe didn't have to bribe or bully anyone into making it that way). Any PDF creation software can be used, and any PDF reader can be used. You don't have to go anywhere near Adobe's products to do either.

3. If you think Word format files are a standard in industry, you are seriously deluding yourself. Try sending a .docx file to someone at my company (the worlds biggest publisher) and you will have a sorry time trying to persuade us to accept it. The cost of supporting it is not something the company is willing to bear as it would either mean installing and testing the compatibility component for Office 2003 or switching the entire user base of several tens of thousands of employees to Office 2007. Neither of those will happen this decade or for the first half of the next.

4. We can take Word .doc files in business (sadly) because it is not critical that the characters, fonts and layout are precisely the same as when the person created them (if those things are critical, the very last thing you want is a fricking Word file). That cannot be said for a document submitted for an exam (e.g. what if there are meant to be mathematical symbols present but the version of Word on the receiving end is unable to display them due to a missing or incompatible font or a platform specific issue?).

5. Saving something in a particular format just because "this is what industry does" is not teaching someone how to use (a) their brain or (b) their computer. In fact it is teaching them the opposite.

::rolleyes::

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Silver badge

@ Andrew Macrobie

"Once again we're demonstrating what happens when people are scored on effort rather than results."

How is that? They were scored based on results. More specifically, they were scored based on the *absence* of result (a significant part of the work not being available to the examiners). Hey teacher, here is my homework, it's printed on transparent weightless paper using invisible ink! Can I have an A+++ please?

Also, if DiDA qualifies as"Academics" or "higher education" for you, I understand why you failed to get the point.

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