Archive for the ‘Computing’ Category

Oh dear – another slip-up with the Open University TT281 course CMA

The TT courses have developed something of a reputation of slipping up with the assessments resulting in numerous questions needing to be “zero-weighted” ie not counting towards the final mark.

It looks like the first CMA of TT281 is continuing in this tradition. In TT280, the preceding course, the marks for the three CMA worked out to have around 80% of students achieving the top grade and 15% getting the next highest grade ie a total of 95% or so getting grades 1 or 2. For the first CMA of TT281 the figures are rather different with only 18% getting that top grade and 61% getting the top two grades and 89% in the top three grades. Overall, it looks like most people have dropped something like 20% to 30% in their marks which is pretty bad.

The reason basically is down to a combination of rather less clear questions and what appears to be quite a high number of iffy “correct” answers. In my own case I count six where the “correct” answer is rather iffy and three where it’s definitely wrong which equates to over 20% of the answers.

Naturally a lot of people are currently fuming about this. The response from the course team is that the explanatory paper will be released sometime next week. Somehow I think that’ll spark even more argument if a whole raft of the questions aren’t zero-rated.


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So far, so good with the client-side course (TT281)

After a bit of a to-do between students and faculty as to why they were forcing us to use CafeScribe (a truly dire piece of software by all accounts), things settled down as we got into the second week of the course (or week 3 according to the students) for the simple reason that everyone seems to have printed the whole book either on paper or to a PDF and thereby abandoned CafeScribe.

It’s an odd kind of course. There’s a bit of programming in it (JavaScript) but that aspect is downplayed a lot as the Web Applications Certificate is at more a management level than a programming one. Thus the first daily (yes, daily) seminar on JavaScript started at a very low level and by the end of the week it was producing a single alert message. That said, I have the feeling that some people have already been put off by the programming aspect.

The daily seminars are a bit much really when added to the rest of the course work. All told there’s the usual course guide which is fine. It mainly points you towards parts of the main course text but also to parts of the JavaScript guide and to a couple of websites too. Add that to the daily seminars and the daily activities and the rather active forums and you’ve a lot of course packed into 10 points.

Coming up quite soon is the first computer marked assignment. I’ve about 1/3rd of that done already and should get the rest completed sometime this week all being well although seeing as I’m a bit behind schedule with the biology assignment perhaps not.

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The end of TT280

In the end I managed to get 1930 words for the second part though it doesn’t seem to be an overly lax word count for that part. That leaves a bit of a break before the client side (TT281) course starts at the end of January.

I’m expecting to do rather more work for TT281 as I’ve much less of a background in client side stuff and, of course, there’s the small matter of the overlap with both the tail end of A251 and the start of S204.

The most annoying part of TT280 (and the rest of the TT courses) is that the course material is drip-fed week by week so you couldn’t get any more than a few weeks ahead. Whilst I generally don’t run massively ahead of the course schedule, it was annoying to have to go to the website to download the course guide for each week: normally I get that done in the first week of the course. The forums were a bit hyperactive at the start and it was several weeks into the course before they calmed down enough to keep any kind of handle on what was being talked about. It would be very easy to sink below the tide of messages and some people appeared to do just that.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

A lost week

I was tootling along quite nicely up to last week.

The web design assignment was coming together nicely with a web site that looked reasonable and only a few hundred words shy of the target for the accompanying report. Another hour or two would complete the medicine course assignment. The reading for the archaeology course was really far ahead of schedule and it was looking like I’d be making a start on the assignment this week. Not only that but I clocked up passes in three courses on the Thursday, particularly welcome in the case of the astronomy course, the exam for which seemed to be a totally dire experience for the majority of people.

Even real life was motoring along quite nicely with all our original set of Christmas cards away getting on for two weeks before Christmas. OK, that might not seem a massive success to you, but believe me, it’s a major achievement for us. We’d managed to see the Christmas play twice and were rolling on downhill towards the kids party, Santa photos, and planned Christmas shopping. Yes, I know, we really should do the Christmas shopping earlier but at least this year we had assembled our shopping list quite early (for us, anyway).

And then I grabbed one of the German hotdogs at the Christmas market which has laid me low with food poisoning for most of the week. And there was the snow and ice which both limited our range and massive increased the time taken to get anywhere. And then there was the flu that one after the other of us managed to pick up.

That lost week has messed up the plan to do “collect at store” for a number of items which is probably no bad thing as one item is available in a thoroughly snowed in area. Supposedly the home delivery is in “two days” which sounds remarkably optimistic but there you go. I think we may need to put off Christmas for a couple of days.

Oh, and there’s the issue that the spot we’ve booked for our Christmas lunch appears to remarkably difficult to get to at the moment.

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The final TT280 CMA result: consequences for the ECA

The final TT280 result sneaked in without me noticing a few days ago.

Our merry band have been reduced by another 20 this time with the original 481 now down to 437. As before, almost everyone is in the 85-100% range with the marks and consequently have over 15% towards their final mark. You need to pass both the CMAs and the ECA so everyone still needs to clear 40% on the ECA rather than the 30% that they may think they need.

The ECA itself is a bit of a peculiar beast, consisting of a four page website, a 1000 word report for the client and a 2000 word technical report. Previous versions of the course appeared to have ran with a single combined report which makes more sense as there’s a lot of duplication between the two reports and going by the course descriptions, later courses in the web applications certificate only have one report.

The website itself is a doddle with the only hassle being that it must validate. Having said that, if you haven’t written any HTML before it would probably be a bit of an eye opener but in reality they only require a very simple website. I’m using the W3C’s Amaya program to run it up which handily validates everything as you write. That immediate validation is something of a pain at times but does avoid the grief of having to go through hundreds of validation errors later on.

The ECA is due next week which seems to have come around terribly quickly and despite me running three weeks ahead for most of the course I’ll only be submitting the ECA a few days early. That’s the problem in general with the TT courses: any slack you may build up is eaten up very quickly indeed.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.