Monday, 28 May 2007

The end of Year 1......

Well what can I say?

I have submitted my ECA's for both M150 and T175 and found both of them fairly straightforward.

I was panicking over the M150 ECA as I thought I had to answer two questions both worth 100 marks. Coming from a programming background I got straight on with the first question which was programming based as I knew I could get to the bottom of it with a few hours hard work.

To my surprise when I actually read the introduction to the second question it said you do not need to answer this question if you have answered question 1! Phew and Doh both came to mind!! I went back to re-read the assignment details and noticed that whilst skim reading I had completely ignored the section about attempting only one question. So even in my last piece of work for the first year of my degree I am still learning things about myself!

I have found my first year fairly straight forward in both time management and learning, working through the course materials steadily and only really finding myself contributing large volumes of my time during assignment periods. It has been frustrating when deadlines have struck close together but I don't think I have put in the 16 hours a week that the OU recommended for two 30 point courses. I have put this down to being familiar with some of the material and more difficult ideas in the course, and I am by no means expecting this trend to continue into next year.

The most useful thing I have had from the OU is the study calendar for the course, it is good to be able to keep pace of where you are and where you should be with your studies and without it I would have certainly found managing my time a lot more difficult, so a big thumbs up goes to the OU for those and I hope they appear in future courses.

I have been deliberating whether or not to post examples of code I have submitted during my assignments with explanations of how I tackled a problem in a particular way. I am not sure how the OU would view this but I assume they won't send out the same questions to future students and it will only be of benefit to others both web users and OU students alike to get a view on how people tackle different problems in different ways.

I was thinking people may be able to respond with there examples through the comments boxes, maybe it will just be better to set up a forum? I don't know just yet although I am looking for a web based project to develop my C# and ASP.Net skills, I find learning these things so much easier when you have a problem to tackle!

O.K so the ramblings are over, I probably won't be posting on the blog as often until the start of the new academic year in September (for me anyway). Obviously if i find any useful or appropriate information I will be writing about it.

Until then have a nice summer and for those of you still studying, good luck with all your doing.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

End of Course Assessment (ECA) and Results so far!

My assignments have finally been marked and returned, and as promised I am here to post the results so far prior to the ECA's being submitted in 2 weeks.

T175

TMA 01 = 83%
TMA 02 = 82%
TMA 03 = 90%
TMA04 = 94%

The main reason for the lower marks at the start of the course was down to getting familiar with assignments. Although TMA02 would have been higher however I missed a part of question 2 out which was worth 12 marks. I actually answered the question! Its the way that I construct my TMA's that was the problem. I work on a question at a time in a word document, and use that document to clean up everything and modify it before copying and pasting it into a new document for submission. Unfortunately I missed a section out, which was frustrating to say the least, however I quickly learned my lesson! (This also gave me a good example of feedback for the ECA).

M150

TMA 01 = 98%
TMA 02 = 98%
TMA 03 = 95%
TMA04 = 89%

The marks for this course have been fairly consistent, I lost some easy marks in TMA04 by not using certain keywords in a question which my tutor marked against. In level one courses like these tutors mark to a fairly rigid guideline, they are often given examples of where marks should be allocated. I'm sure this will be true for level 2 and 3 courses going forward as they expect you to demonstrate the knowledge you have learned. One example is that when I was explaining why voice recognition systems may have difficulties interpreting the word minute for example as it can be pronounced differently when referring to time or referring to size, the keyword that my tutor was looking for was the fact that it was a "Homograph". Even though I explained the problem I failed to include this keyword in my answer, which resulted in me throwing away an easy mark!

Anyway I have thoroughly enjoyed both of these courses and would recommend them to anyone.

After I have submitted my ECA's and hopefully passed the courses I am eligible to claim my Certificate in Computing and Information. The good thing about the OU is you gain different level of qualifications as you work towards your Degree. For example once I have studied more Level two courses I will be eligible for a Diploma, then with further study a degree. So you are constantly having something to show for your efforts!!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

International Student Identity Card (ISIC Card) for OU students

I ordered an international student identity card on tuesday from STA Travel which cost £7.00 for my trip around europe. It is the most recognised form of student ID around the world and will get you discounts and free entry to lots of places.

I applied online on the off chance that it might come through, the Open University isn't regarded by NUS as a full blown University and the only discount card they give you is an NUS Associates card, which although is fairly decent, it isn't up to par with the usual NUS Extra Card students get.

I assumed that this would be true for the ISIC card however I felt obliged to have a go at getting one and completed the form with the Open University as my place of study and ticked the box to say I qualified (It was a minimum of 15 hours study per week, according to the OU two 30 point level one courses equate to approx 16hours per week).

Two days later and i find on my door matt an ISIC card all digitally completed and ready to have my photo placed in it! Bring on the bargains around Europe!

If you are an OU student I would definitely recommend getting one of these for the U.K or if you travel abroad at all all the better! It can be used in the U.K and around the world and gives discounts for everything from CD's and DVD's to cinema tickets and museums. A full list of U.K discounts can be found here and the main homepage where you can check out the card and its benefits can be found here.

If your an OU student please do share this news with your fellow students and friends, it is definitely worth knowing about. Go forth and make the most of your student status, however young or old you may be!!

Monday, 7 May 2007

M150 TMA04 Finished... and other things.

Another sigh of relief as this one bites the dust.

I have to admit I found this assignment fairly challenging, well question 3 anyway. It was a question geared at your ability to write a report in non-technical language, albeit in the most ambiguously constructed question I have ever faced at the OU. To be honest I am just glad to have completed it and know that I only have an ECA left for this course and a further ECA for T175 and then this year is done. I can look forward to 5 weeks travelling Europe with my girlfriend to recharge the batteries.

On a slightly different note I went to the last tutorial for T175 last wednesday. Only 3 students turned up, if i'm honest this is only the second tutorial I have attended for T175 but I'm glad I did, it was very reassuring and cleared up any questions I had as we talked through what was expected of us.

Whilst attending the tutorial a member of the guidance/support staff was there to discuss how we as students were finding the OU and what we were planning going forward. When I told her that I was registered for 90 points next year she laughed, as did my tutor, who then jested that my social life was gone. I hope their laugh's were unjustified but I guess this will be the place to look in twelve months time to find out!!

Once I have the results for this assignment I will post up my scores for the year for both T175 and M150, and when the End of Course Assessments are returned I will update those scores as well.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

learnvisualstudio.net target microsoft certification 70-528 exam

All

The guys over at learn visual studio .net have had a bit of a swing in direction and are now producing educational videos targeted directly at Microsoft certifications. The first batch which are being released throughout May 2007 are targeted at the 70-528 exam which is part of the MCTS and MCPD certifications. On first look these videos are great and I cant wait to get my hands dirty and hopefully work towards Microsoft Certification.

From what I have read over at the forums Bob Tabor, Founder of LearnVisualStudio.net, intends to target the vast majority of future content specifically at Microsoft certifications. This could be a very successful strategy indeed! Pop over to the site and have a look!