The 29 students of a computing class at a school in Lincolnshire have all failed to gain their diploma because their teacher told them to save their coursework in Microsoft Word format, which is not accepted by the exam board. Edexcel rejected work from pupils at Cotelands School in Ruskington who were studying for the Diploma …
re: Didn't accept MS Word?!
Well, reasons may include
a) Only Word can manage Word, and costs to buy. You shouldn't have to pay to be educated.
b) Which version of Word
c) Word is a great way of passing around viruses
Any one on their own is good enough reason.
re: Are there other formats?
Plain text ASCII.
Time for the examiner to be examined
The complaint by Edexcel seems even more absurd once you've looked down the list of products examiners can install. Examiners can install the Office compatibility pack - presumably because it is anticipated that the Office suite will be installed in examiners PCs. Or perhaps the author of the list are being deliberately mischeivious.
It's doubly disingenuous because IE can display word documents or, at least, they could be saved to Html and viewed in IE.
I hope you do get chance to take Edexcel to task. Even OpenOffice is not in the list so submitting any word processed document using the world's most two widely used tools is not allowed. But minority sport tools like mediator and openview are. What if a pupil used the extremely widely used Eclipse or Microsoft's VS 2008 to create a web application - tools employers would find useful - instead of Mediator? They'd be penalised? Just because they didn't save to PDF?
It seems like the examiner has let themselves get caught in timewarp and maybe that alone should be worrying.
re: Odd choices.
I don't think Powerpoint has much of a virus cross-section compared to Word.
Maybe that's why.
re: What about DOCX?
Have you used it? No? Well it reads to me like the compatability pack allows, for example, PDFs to be displayed in Office 2003.
It doesn't (and should not) change the Word2003 format and that would mean that it cannot be the compatability pack makes the Word2003 format acceptable. So it remains verboten.
Office doesn't understand its own formats much any more and the days of Word understanding all the major players in the document creation market ended when MS killed all the competitors to become the market leader. The other formats could go hang then.
re: Resonable response...
And thereby giving them 7 more days than anyone else to submit their work.
Which is unfair.
Add to that the course is about how to prepare and send documents and one element is how document presentation is a very different kettle of fish from document preparation (e.g. You don't print out the postscript language to PRESENT the document, you run the program to turn those directives into an image. But to CREATE the postscript image, you may use a plain text editor to enter the right directives, or even a program) and by submitting their work in a documentation *production* format shows they have failed to learn the course, why shouldn't they be failed.
With a fail and having to do a new exam:
a) they don't get extra days to finish their work
b) they will finally learn the difference between the production and presentation aspects of documentation.
@ John Fielder
If you follow the link in the article you'll see the list of viewers that EdExcel supply to their moderators - plenty of MS proprietary viewers there but why no FREE MS word viewer??
Available FREE here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/891090.
re: The DiDA documentation is misleading
No, it isn't.
Why is a compatability pack needed to make the native format of an application compatible? It is either compatible without it since there is no problem with the format or the native format isn't compatible, and therefore why do you assume that the native format is changed?
It's just that you want Word used because you think that it must be used 'cos you use it and MS wrote it and they're great and everyone else is just poopy-heads and we need kids who don't read instructions but can use Word and and and and...
this happens a lot
teacher cock-ups i mean. You can't blame the examination board for a teacher, not teaching correctly. It's unfair on the students, but it's the school that needs to sort this out, not the exam board
For all those saying that the examiners can easily read the documents, that's not the issue, the issue is that the examination conditions were not met, and so the work submitted is invalid. It looks like it's more than just a format issue though if they were supposed to produce a website and presented a word document.
A similar thing happened to me in my GCSE 'IT' course. The whole class spent 2 years studying IT and were then presented with an Information Systems GCSE paper during the exam. (The information systems paper was much more in depth) Only 2 of us passed, me being one of them as it wasn't exactly challenging, so i wasn't too bothered. But for all those that failed they should be p*ssed off, the teacher spent 2 years teaching them the wrong subject for the exam they were entered for, not that the exam board wouldn't mark their incorrect answers as right.
Education industry's management culture
I'm not at all surprised by this story. I have friends who are teachers and I hear a lot of horror stories about the management culture. Despite the focus on metrics there seems to be a lot of politics and not much meritocracy going on. The further you go from the coalface the worse things are.
One friend who's a teacher has even been bullied by her school's management, apparently on religious grounds (she works in a faith school but isn't of that faith).
@ DIDA formats / John Fielder
"There is not a free reader for Word format"
Are you/they joking? OpenOffice is free and it reads (and edits) .doc format. Anyone who doesn't know that needs re-education!
@John Fielder - Free .doc readers
Microsoft provide a Word Viewer as a free download, and I'm led to believe that the reportedly excellent (and free) Open Office can also open Microsoft Office format documents...
What a joke
I just love how Edexcel has put a slogan on their website that reads: "Connected to the real world"
All I can say is: if I applied for a job, and they asked for my CV in a specific format, then that is what I would give them. If I gave them something different, then I would expect it not to be read.
Reminder: this was an IT exam. If it was history or something like that, I would say that the format did not matter, but in this case it was surely part of the requirements.
A better example would be when I sat Technical Drawing a long time ago: if I had submitted a micro-fiche of my work I would have expected to fail, however good the draftsmanship: that may be a valid archival format, but the layout and labelling all fall within the confines of the actual exam.
The teacher should certainly be sacked - AFTER he has tutored all of the children for free.
It doesn't really matter though...
GSCEs and their equivalents mean bugger all anyway!
If the students were really serious about IT they would have taught themselves all of the really useful knowledge years before taking any stupid tests to create an ePortfolio full of crap.
All of my computer and programming knowledge is self taught and at uni I mainly topped-up my knowledge with some new stuff.
Mines the one crammed with floppy discs filled with databases, spreadsheets and webpages from long forgotten courseworks stuffed the pocket.
Moderators Toolkit Workstation
My school, like any other technically competent one that read the information provided, set up a stand alone computer running the "Moderator's Toolkit" so that the pupils could thoroughly test their work before submission.
"For all those saying that the examiners can easily read the documents, that's not the issue, the issue is that the examination conditions were not met, and so the work submitted is invalid. It looks like it's more than just a format issue though if they were supposed to produce a website and presented a word document." - Sooty (Posted Tuesday 9th December 2008 11:05 GMT)
Anyone else saying that they should just unquestioningly accept the .doc file fails the El Reg RTFA criteria.
Maybe they could accpet it but knock off some marks or something, but the key fact will remain that they did not meet the requirements of the course.
If this was a history essay, then things might be different. But it's not, it's a "Diploma in Digital Application". I think getting filetypes right is a justifiable portion of such a course.
nothing teaches like PAIN
Therefore I applaud this drastic approach. DOC is the bane of document exchange and it needs to be erased from folks minds to even consider it a valid format if we ever want to get rid of it. This is, in addition to all the anger and frustration it causes even if you DO use MS Office, exactly because of all the "duh, if this was a company they'd go out of business" comments. BECAUSE THAT'S WRONG STATE OF AFFAIRS IF YOU FAIL TO SEE IT. *foam*
Oh, and if the required document types were open to the students, they deserve to fail anyway, as apparently they cannot read. If you cannot read, you can work in the postal services (in Germany at least) but not in IT.
Not the kids' fault
If the teacher told them to save it in M$ Turd format then it's hardly their fault.
I remember failing an exam which I should have sailed through because of being incorrectly advised by a teacher.
Because of that I didn't go to college and went straight into IT at the ground floor instead, meaning that I'm now not as useless as most graduates!
But I guess I did miss out on a lot of parties.
Let me get this straight...
The have a "standard kit" that includes MS Excel Viewer and MS PowerPoint Viewer, but not MS Word Viewer? I mean, I could see perhaps requiring an open standards format (but then I think most of them have figured out how to decode most MS formats anyway), but to support the lesser of the MS formats and not the major?! The mind boggles. In considering what ought to be done with the edexcel "people" who put this kit together, the words of an animate movie from my youth come to mind:
Hanging's too good for 'em! Burning's too good for 'em! [They] should be torn into itty bitty pieces and buried alive!
I did my ICT GCSE last year and saved my files in the .doc format and passed. Have the rules changed recently at all? The exam board was the same as this one too. Hmm.
Were they using Word 2007 or something? I was using Word 2000. Yes, I know, the school that I was in was still teaching students how to use 8 (then 7) year old software. Pretty crap, eh?
Anywho, I hope those students get the grades that they actually deserve. It would suck doing all that preparation for the exam and then not getting the result that you deserve through no fault of their own.
The beginning of a hugely pedantic state?
As an IT student myself I use PDF all the time as its the only alternative provided at our college.
Its all a bit of a pain in the a**e though because from my personnal experience teachers like the work in something like word where:
A) Pretty much every single student will have the relevant software at home or at school
B) It can be used in a way that enables teachers to mark work digitally and send via email giving students more time to do their work to the best of their ability (Its easier and more realistic to email the entire class their homework back on a weekend than it would to start delivering their work door to door on the saturday) unlike other formats that Edexcel do accept (PDF is one of them)
I think it was pretty damn harsh on the kids too, the next step will be to fail english students if they ever spell a word incorrectly.
Par for the course I'm afraid
You have to remember that schools are places where you can be suspended and miss out on your taxpayer-funded education if you transgress even tiny rules, like not wearing the correct uniform, or wearing he wrong items of jewelery.
Apparently (and I've had this argument with real teachers of my acquaintance) it's not that these transgressions make a pupil any less suitable to be taught. It's that "rules is rules", and if you give them an inch they'll take a mile and, oh yes, it sets a precedent for the other kids.
So there's your answer, I think. If we accept Word format from this school, they'll all want to use it - and God knows what other formats besides. Best to keep the little blighters in their place, even if it was the teacher's fault all along.
A bit pathetic in my view but, like I say, I've had this argument and teachers stick together. I've no reason to think exams boards are any different, being staffed by failed teachers in the main.
>>  "FAIL" as a meme is worse than tired. Stop it. All of you.
> Well put.
> Likewise, is it really illegal to shoot people for saying "my bad" ?
Probably, seeing as it's illegal to shoot tourists, even during tourist season ...
It can't have been JUST the file format
Whatever the merits of the file formats that EdExcel specify - and I believe there are too many on the list - the list is clearly available and the spec says clearly what is expected.
That said the ONLY section of the DiDA mark scheme that is affected by this should be section (e) where marks above 3/9 require appropriate formats. The students should have lost a MAXIMUM of 6/42 marks - ie one grade. UNLESS all candidates got a PASS grade AND were given full marks in section (e) then some should have Passed.
Quote from EdExcel's Assessment Guidance:
Section (e) For 3 marks, a student must have demonstrated some awareness of audience and purpose by producing a basic eportfolio that allows access to most of the required evidence using the Moderator’s Toolkit. Context pages must include some appropriate comments introducing the evidence.
For 5 marks, a student must have demonstrated good awareness of audience and purpose by producing an eportfolio that conforms to the technical specification and allows access to all of the required evidence using the Moderator’s Toolkit. Context pages must include some appropriate comments introducing the evidence and make some use of the medium to present achievements (e.g. by choosing appropriate file formats).
Note however it says MOST so even them SOME of the evidence can be in inappropriate formats. Only when you get to 5 marks is it essential that it all conforms to the techspec.
Everything else being OK of course. Methinks we only get the one issue blown beyond all proportion there MUST have been other issues to get them all failed.
Which formats are acceptable?
I find it interesting that a lot of posters are saying:
"The teacher should have known"
and the same people are asking "which file types are acceptable"
Both the teacher and those posting such comments could easily find the information by searching the web. http://dida.edexcel.org.uk/home/spb/toolkit/
Initially the list was shorter. However there has been a change to it. We used to teach it here but changed as the qualification seems to test the English skills more than the ICT skills involved.
I have posted on this earlier but to reitterate - there is NO WAY that the students would ALL fail just because they submitted incorrect file formats. MAXIMUM loss for that is 6 marks which would take them down 1 full grade. Therefore anyone awarded the A*,A, and B grades would have still passed. There had to be other issues.
Personally I believe that anyone stupid enough to get the file formats wrong would also have missed other, much more subtle, issues within the mark scheme and therefore messed up in other sections; hence the students needing to do additional work.
Support for MS Office
But one of the linked items in the referenced URL is the 'Microsoft Office Compatability Pack' which only runs on top of MS Office - which does of course understand .doc files. So what's the story now?
Edexcel at it again I see.
As someone in education I have to put up with Edexcel's incompetence which also strains our budget (A site licence for Microsoft Office 2007 (Part of our VLA) is a hell of a lot cheaper than Acrobat Professional; which is just a stupid format that demands the reader be slow, bloated and just stupid and anyone who thinks Acrobat is actually good for anything should be promptly put down - Well, Ok, it's good for publishing print materials like maps, user guides, policies and those 'getting started' things - Nothing more. Also, have you seen the licensing for that MissionMaker crap? As an educational institute, budgets are tight, do these nobody companies really expect us to stump up for a site license of a product only one department is going to use, and not use very much?).
I still remember Edexcel being hauled over hot coal by UK government for purposefully marking down exam papers to make it look as if their exams are getting harder. Their moderators have a set list of what answers to expect, and if it's something else (or to reach marking quota - don't read the entire explanation, even though they say you can go on to another sheet if needed) they mark it down. I remember back in college I was asked to explain filesystems and I went in to great depth (even as far as explaining the 1024 boot boundary and that some older BIOSes didn't accept anything over 8Gb) and despite everything being correct, it was marked down.
I'm hoping a lawsuit comes out of this and Edexcel are hit hard and forced in to remarking the papers and having to go to the trouble of downloading the word viewer (Yes it DOES exist, Google it). We as schools teaching the national curriculum have to stomach the licensing costs of the tools they demand we use (And they get away with using the free 'viewers'), so should they! And if you're not horrified yet, read what they ask ICT Teachers to teach where networks and infrastructure is concerned, they're still using hubs, token rings and BNC cabling as opposed to switches, Cat6, routers and in-depth looks at the OSI model's layer 3 to gain an in-depth knowledge of 802.11q, and kids/sixth form are walking out of school and in to college or uni thinking that what they've been taught is correct when it's 10 years out of date.
Of course, Edexcel could also be forced out of business; it's not like OCR or AQA couldn't take their place and make a mess of it as much as Edexcel did.
Paris Hilton because even she couldn't make as much of a mess of the ICT curriculum as Edexcel has.
Teacher's fault, no doubt about it
I taught the DiDA qualifiction last year and it was hammered into every one of us that Word documents would not be accepted; it's also on their website, in the specifications and is mentioned at EVERY training event. The teacher would have had to have severe problems not to spot this, I can't see how it could have been missed by anyone working as a professional. Teacher's fault, no doubt about it.
Tear them a new asshole REG!!!!
Edexcel has got to get their heads out of their Edasses! With today's "advanced" technology (5 years old at least) every one of the students could have just downloaded openoffice, or have the teacher do it, and just convert them all into one of the other formats, easy peasy. For them to not know that is a sign that they have no clue about tech and only are against .doc because they heard it was potentially unsafe. I bet they open and evaluate those documents on a program that can execute hidden viruses, which theoretically can become embedded into any format, just needs an insecure-ish reader to execute it. $50 says they use a web browser based method of viewing them! ;~P lol, jerks
Edexcel has a nice little "ask us" section where you can ask them how they got so behind in their IT department to have a list of formats that are now known to be as insecure as .doc
You have to register with them, but if you're not too sarcastic and insulting I think they'll take good advice when it comes, usually problems like this arise when someone who used to be in HR says, "I can manage an IT department better than they can!" Then things like this happen. I mean HTM and Flash? more secure than .doc? really?? Since when? Only back when people had no clue, like when they created their acceptable formats list :P Thanks to windows, almost anything can execute anything now, they should just bite the bullet and have everything sent to them in paper form becuase they are not an IT specialized company, just an education helper with delusions of cyber-grandeur, i.e. completely dangerously clueless.
Other schools did this too, you know
They were not the only school where this happened. My son, also received a mark of zero for this course along with along with everyone else in his class for the same reason - work was submitted to the examining board in the wrong format.
The school was Harry Carlton, in East Leake, Nottinghamshire.
We received a letter from the school explaining what had happened, but pointing out that the syllabus wasn't actually even promulgated until well after the course had started either. I'm told they've dropped the course from this year.
If your IT Dept thinks the only PDF writing solution is Acrobat Professional, they need their heads examined...there are oodles of PDF writers out there, many with considerable volume discounts. Your LA might already have struck a deal, as PDF writers are increasingly needed in other areas of council business - especially with the drive to implement EDMS (Electronic Document Management Solutions).
Of course, there's also a potential solution that can also replace the entirety of M$ Orifice at zero cost, as well as offering integrated PDF writing. And it's not just for "masochistic Linux users" - you can get binaries for Windoze as well...
However, finding a decent low-cost alternative to Adobe Flash Professional may be a little trickier...
Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack
Seems odd that they have 'Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack' listed under the list of accepted file formats, which includes support for Microsoft Word 2007 ('.docx' extension) but not explicitly include a listing for legacy Word format, especially as Excel and PowerPoint are included.