Surviving DiDA SPBs

The deadline for DiDA module d204 is almost upon us (at LFC, anyway), so now seems an appropriate time to share some wisdom that I have acquired over the past 3 units.

1. Organize yourself!

This has got to be the single most important thing to get right to pass a DiDA SPB – you must be organized. I don’t mean by turning up to lessons on time and managing to use some primary sources – I mean that your entire mindset in the DiDA project must be impeccable order.

For the d201 and d202 SPBs, I managed to lose practically every scrap of feedback I managed to get down on paper – and the feedback that I did get wasn’t even that good anyway. I didn’t bother to print anything off from the SPBs, so everything was a mad rush at crunch-time when it transpired that I wasn’t meeting the criteria.

Go to WHSmiths or Wilkos tomorrow and buy yourself a ringbinder, some coloured dividers with tabs and as many poly-wallets as you can afford. Group together all of your printed off bits of paper – and if you’re working correctly you should have a fair few of them – and slip them in to poly-wallets together. For example, I group all completed feedback for a particular product in a poly-wallet, and all of my completed feedback under one divider.

2. Direct your feedback!

Three lines of ‘it’s good, it’s suitable for target audience, I like it’ != feedback. Real feedback gives you an honest reflection of your work and provides areas for you to change. And you do need things to change if you’re driving for that illusive ‘C’ grade.

Create a simple document with headings like ‘What do you like about my product?’, ‘What would perhaps work better a different way’ to direct your feedback. Your review will thank you for it.

Print off 3 or 4 copies of a feedback sheet for each of your products. When you have some completed feedback, stick it in a poly-wallet in your folder until it’s turn to be scanned, and then keep a hard copy in your folder until the end of the SPB, when you can be sure you won’t need it again.

3. Work from home!

You cannot complete a DiDA SPB without doing at least some work at home – period. Creating your products out of class time is against the rules, but conversely doing everything in class wastes very valuable time.

Do yourself a favor and do all of your planning – including the project plan – out of SPB hours. Don’t forget that any research, feedback and the review can also all be done from home.

4. Make lists!

DiDA projects are complex, and you will often find yourself remembering at the last minute that you forgot to do something critical that you really should have done long ago – like keep your journal updated, or to actually do some planning.

I like to plan out the tasks that I need to complete in lists. I’m not suggesting a full-blown GTD system, but it is important to work to checklists to ensure that you don’t lose any marks. When an entire GCSE is marked out of just 42 marks, and the grade boundaries can be 6 marks or less, you need every mark you can get.

I have created my own diary system from a blank note block and keep my lists in that, but you could use an a4 sheet that fits into – you guessed it – a poly-wallet in your folder. I also like to highlight anything that can be done at home in green, and anything that is critical in pink.

5. Don’t settle for mediocrity

You can get up to 4 GCSEs at level A* for the DiDA course. Some colleges will accept you with 4 GCSEs at level C. Bear that in mind; whether you like it or not, how well you do in this course could well affect the rest of your life. You can’t be working in economy – you have to be giving this your all.

Make that change due to feedback, create that fourth version of your poster. Re-check that your links work and your spellings are correct. Get those one or two extra feedback sheets filled in.

These points aren’t exhaustive, but they have helped me get an A and an A* grade so far. A little effort really can be worth it. Good luck with your DiDA courses.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hey Dan,

    Saw an example of your work in class today, it’s an exemplar piece shown by Edexcel.
    Congratulations for such a good quality.

    It’s quite a hard subject, DiDA, and sadly, thinking that I could just sail through it without a problem (seeing as I know quite a bit about computing in general) I only managed a Credit in SPB201.

    But hopefully the multimedia SPB will turn out better!

  2. Hey Dan.

    I’m in Ben’s class, and I have also seen your example of your work. I think it’s very good, well done!

    I think I managed to get a Credit in SPB201, but not 100% sure.

    I hope to do better in the Multimedia SPB, in which I am currently doing now.


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