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Technology and Digital Question Papers in SQA Examinations and Assessments

Technology is increasingly replacing human readers and scribes in SQA assessments and examinations because it offers learners a more independent method of support. In addition, students who acquire skills with digital technology to support their learning in general have a vital life skill when they leave school.

This seminar covers the use of technology in SQA external examinations and internal assessments such as National Literacy Units (where readers and scribes cannot be used in the assessment of reading or writing).

We will consider which candidates might benefit from using technology in examinations, and discuss the practicalities of organising ICT resources, staff and accommodation. The seminar discusses use of Windows computers and iPads. The use of Chromebooks in examinations and assessments will be addressed in a separate seminar.



14th September 2017
University of Edinburgh

Morning Seminar £40
(9:30am - 12:30pm)

with Workshop £80
(1:30pm - 3:30pm)

What you will learn

Morning seminar

  • What Digital Question Papers and Digital Answer Booklets are
    and how they can be accessed by learners with Additional Support Needs and/or disabilities.
  • How candidates with different support needs can access them
    using Windows and iPad devices.
  • Approaches for using technology in assessments.
  • Understanding of how to create adapted digital prelims and assessments.

Who is the seminar and workshop aimed at?

  • Subject teachers, Support for Learning Teachers
  • Anyone working with a student with an Additional Support Need
  • Technical support / network staff

Afternoon workshop (optional)

The afternoon session will be capped at a maximum of 16 participants. No prior knowledge or expertise is required. You will have in-depth hands-on practice with Windows and iPads, using the software and apps that have been discussed during the morning session.

You will have time to explore, ask questions, share and take home ideas that can be immediately embedded into your practice and support of a candidates with Additional Support Needs.

Meet your presenter(s)

Paul Nisbet
Engineer and Educational Technologist

Paul is a Senior Research Fellow and has an engineering background. He's involved in CALL's assessment and support service for pupils, with a particular responsibility for access technology for pupils with physical disabilities; and for technology to enable students with dyslexia or literacy difficulties access the curriculum.

Shirley Lawson
Assistive Technology and ASN Officer

I bring my teaching experience into my role at CALL as Development Officer for Assistive Technologies and Additional Support Needs. I lead the CALL Scotland Professional Learning and am focussing on providing a programme of relevant, quality assistive technology training to those working with children and young people with additional support needs and / or disabilities.

Craig Mill
Assistive Technology Advisor

Probably better known for developing the AccessApps, a suite of portable open source and free learning support tools that can be run from a USB drive.

Craig is also the developer of the awards winning MyStudyBar - a handy tool to support learners with literacy difficulties. Craig is keeping abreast of new developments in technology, particularly technology to help overcome barriers to learning.

What the research says

A few candidates with confirmed Dyslexia still need the support of a human reader but the vast majority of candidates across a range of subjects will be presented (with accompanying evidence) for Digital Question Papers adjustment. I think it is a super step forward for youngsters to have access to ICT as this mirrors arrangements that they may need to use in the work place and in higher or further education if they have genuine specific difficulties.
Feedback from staff, reported in Nisbet (2014) - SQA Digital Question Papers 2013-14 Summary Report.

There has been a very positive response to the use of various ICT support tools at Denny High School from the learners, teachers and senior staff, particularly the use of iVona MiniReader. The pupils have found it easy to use and it has helped them become more independent in their learning. It is also possible to use it at home so their whole learning experience has improved. The teachers have seen an improvement in the learnerís level of ability in literacy, and were also very positive about how easy to use the software was for the learners.
Using Technology in Literacy: Case Study from Denny High School (2014)


About the day

Morning Seminar

  • Duration: 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Class size: No more than 50
  • Refreshments: Tea, coffee and water will be available throughout.

Afternoon Workshop (optional)

  • Duration: 1:30pm - 3:30pm
  • Class size: No more than 16
  • Refreshments: Tea, coffee and water will be available throughout.


  • Room: Room 1.27, Paterson's Land, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ