Archive for the ‘Computing’ Category

Roaring ahead with TT280

Courses that are largely online are even more difficult to judge ahead of time than book based courses.

You might think that student reviews would be a good place to start in assessing how long a course will take to do but in reality it’s very much based on your prior knowledge and experience. Thus whilst the comments on U211 a few years back indicated that it took getting on for 20 hours a week to do, in reality it rarely took me more than three ie about 1/5th of the recommended time of 16 hours. It looks like TT280 will be even worse. The OU guideline is 8 hours, which I usually divide by two, but I finished the first three weeks worth of work in something like three or four hours (and, no, I didn’t skip things). That leaves me with just one chapter of the book to read to complete week three which is as far as I can go ’til October the 1st when the first CMA is released.

One of the exercises was to run a W3C validation on a website. For that I thought that I’d give some of my own websites a spin. Turns out that the one with the most problems is this one and all because of some of the plugins that I use; my completely DIY inns sites were fine apart from a couple of typing mistakes.

Anyway, all being well, I’ll be able to maintain this pace in future courses in the web development certificate as I’ll be running some of them alongside quite a heavy workload. The medicine course is slipping back a ways at the moment though I’m still on schedule to complete it sometime in October even with my “pottering along” pace.

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

Getting going on the final run of TT280

The Open University TT courses are a set of six courses on various aspects of web development making up the web development certificate. Sadly, it proved a form of course that was a) too hard to keep updated sufficiently frequently and b) not sufficiently attractive to students towards the latter end of the certificate (a recent run had 800+ on the first course, 80 on the penultimate).

Anyway, as a result of that I’ve just started on what’s the final run of the suite of courses. The first one is TT280 which seems to be essentially a run through of XHTML and CSS along with a lot of related stuff such as the various web standards (boy, are they long, or what?).

Supposedly this course should take around 8 hours a week but it looks like I’ll be scooting through at more like two hours a week as I’ve already finished the first week’s worth of material (yes, all of it) this morning and that included downloading the first four weeks of material. One thing about this course that is a real pain is that the material is drip-fed week by week so that you can’t run more than four weeks ahead of the official schedule. Thus in place of my normal complete download of the course at the start, I’ll need to download a weeks worth every week from now on. The first of the Computer Marked Assignments (CMAs) won’t be available ’til next week which is something else that I don’t like as I always like a look at what’s expected early on in a course.

The course has heaps of references outside the course material if the first week is anything to go by. So, although I’ve “everything” downloaded I ended up having to read through the course guide online and download the additional documents as I was going along. That multiple document format is typical of the OU material (because it gets you more engaged in your learning) but having to be online as you read the course guide simply so that you can go off to another website for material is a bit of a nuisance. Still, it has saved a few hundred quid as I initially thought that this was the course that would force the purchase of one of the Android tablets. Oh well, I guess I might have to wait for Christmas.

One ongoing awkward part of the suite of courses is that I’m having to add them on top of my nicely planned out schedule which will be particularly difficult at some points. For instance, I’m having to start this course before the astronomy course is out of the way since the first CMA is due about a week after the astronomy exam. And, of course, there’s the medicine course as well though doing that whilst the kids are in their Kumon class seems to be working out quite well.

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

TT280 Web Applications: Design, Development and Management

I signed up for this a couple of weeks ago on the basis that it looked like a doable way of updating my skills a little bit in a fairly short time.

It’s part of the Certificate of Web Applications Development which is a series of six related 10 point courses. Normally 10 point courses offer you the chance to do the course over either eight weeks or about five months corresponding roughly to the workload of a 30 point or 10 point course but this one is over a fixed 12 week period which means that it should equate to a 20 point workload. In OU terms, a 20 point workload is around 5 hours a week so if my normal scaling factor applies it should take me a couple of hours a week to get through it.

Although it’s billed as an online course a parcel arrived this afternoon containing the book Principles of Web Design, a DVD full of all kinds of Internet software (Apache, several browsers) and a cute video, and the usual OU applications DVD. Going by my quick flick through the book it’s at a fairly low level although there’s an ebook for the course which may be at a higher level but I’ll not have access to that ’til Thursday. Supposedly you can do the course with Windows, Linux or Mac computers but installing it in Ubuntu didn’t work as seamlessly as that implies. In fact, it didn’t really work at all so I may have to break out the Windows machine at some point or maybe give it a spin in VirtualBox.

I came across a website from a former TT280 student which relates his experiences but also rather interestingly the falling number of students on the various courses in the certificate. Whilst TT280 kicked off with 800 students, towards the end the number dropped to well below 100 which I guess is why this is the last run of the course with no plans to replace it. I’m not sure if I’ll complete the certificate myself at this point as some of the modules will run through rather busy periods in my timetable so I’ve linked it to my open degree that I’m using as a place holder for my miscellaneous courses.

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

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A first course specifically for work reasons

Up to now I’ve been using the Open University to study things not so much for pleasure but which would enable me to do other things for me or the family. Hence the Modern Languages degree grew out of a desire to move to France and the Child Psychology and Human Biology out of a desire to know some stuff that was useful for the family.

However, after considerable internal debate I’ve decided to go for TT280 which is the first of a set of six short courses spread over about two years that basically amount to a web design training course. Along the way it should update my computing knowledge in a whole host of areas from HTML through to Java and server performance. It’s probably one of the most general computing courses that they offer and seems like one of the best re-entry points into computing. In practical terms, if all goes according to plan, I may pick up some of the topics in more detail through other courses eg I don’t think it covers Java in much detail as there are three 30 point courses on Java and there are much larger courses on server technologies and whatnot.

Although it’s a university course, it seems to be run much more on the lines of a training course with quite a tight timetable in place of the normally more laid back OU timetables from other courses. I’ll be doing the first course (TT280) on its own for much of the 12 weeks but after that, if I do them, the other five courses will be running alongside courses already in my plan.

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