Not-so-freshers’ week

As some have said in my TU100 forums, it’s my last week of freedom!  After this, it’s all deadlines and regret.  (Which isn’t a huge lateral step, as it would have been mostly regret if I hadn’t started the degree.)

Before the big start, let’s take stock: Where am I?  Well, mostly I’m done.  Okay, not with the whole module, but I’m on track to being finished with the first block (of six) before the first day of the module.  In a word, that’s terrible!  For oh so many reasons:

  • I honestly didn’t want to get very far ahead.  I was thinking that being about a week ahead would help me smooth out any emergencies that came up.  (I’ve got a wife with a medical condition that sees me in A&E for about twenty hours a year, typically on a Friday night, doing my best to worry more about her being doubled over in pain than laughing at the drunks who can’t keep from sliding out of their chairs, I’ve got a baby who wants to practice parkour before he can walk, and a six-year-old who very commonly needs emergency snuggles.  Unavoidables happen.)
  • I’m kind of running out of things to study.  Problems worth having, right?  But my study habits have proven effective, so the last thing I wanted to do was to destroy them by letting up.  I might not be able to find this steam again for this module if I take my foot off the … Petrol?  Do you guys even have that saying over here?  I’ll settle with accelerator.  I didn’t want to take my foot off the accelerator.  I don’t know how that makes it steam, but that’s what I don’t want to run out of, so acceleratoring it is.
  • What happens if I actually do run out of things?  If I’m “done” by, say, February, but there are little bits and pieces that aren’t available until May, how will I find the motivation to go back and do them?  For example, TMA02 requires you to use TMA01’s tutor feedback.  So before I can put TMA02’s first draft down, I have to have submitted TMA01, waited for its deadline to pass, wait for it to be assessed and marked, and then I can start it.  And then draft, draft again, and then maybe a draft or two.  And then draft.  And finally submit TMA02.  And then wish I’d given it a few more drafts.  But all the material for it will be ages out of mind again.

And keep in mind, all of this is while doing other computer science MOOCs on the side.  Those ones, in fairness, I’m not really giving my full attention.  I’m watching the lectures, I’m doing the activities and exercises, I’m handing in the assessments, but I’m not taking notes, doing extra reading, researching questions I have, or studying them, I’m just doing them.  Like high school.  Just showing up and doing what I’m told.  (I have a nagging feeling that didn’t turn out so well …)

So one solution I’m thinking of is increasing my study intensity.  Which one do I worry about more?  Burning out by taking on too much, or losing interest by getting bored with insufficient materials?

I have a feeling in a few years I’m going to think back on this decision quite wistfully, that my biggest study problem was not having enough to study.

Okay, then, what have I done?

Block one is allegedly about “Myself” in relation to a digital world.  I don’t recall reading anything about me, really.  I may have missed it.  I haven’t been asked my opinion on much, either, except how much more awesome the writing skills of teenagers have become due to digital technologies.  (Err …)

The first part is allegedly about making students aware of the digital nature of our world around them, but is really about making sure we can simultaneously read and think.  Go me!

The second part is allegedly about the history of computers from a curiously narrow context: The four generations of computer hardware, spanning their entire history … From the mid 1940’s to the late 1970’s.  (Also some maths about exponential growth and binary counting.) Really the second part is about taking notes.  (Mental note: NEVER AGAIN WITH THE SPRAY DIAGRAM! IT IS THE DEVIL!) (Mental notes are not covered in this part.)

The third part is allegedly about HTML and markup, but is actually about … Well, no.  It’s actually about HTML and markup.  Well done, guys.  (It also has a critical process for evaluating sources.)

The fourth part is allegedly about how digital communications technologies make the world smaller, but is really about forcing you to play with a terribly dated Java applet that someone is waaaaaay too proud of, that basically amounts to a graphical TraceRT and a minor security violation all in one!  Yay!  (There are other and better tools.  Good luck to all the tutors who have to fight with students to disable their Java security settings!)  There’s a very (very) bad primer on TCP/IP, as well.

The fifth part is part of the programming guide.  The less said about this here, the better.  I’m not a fan.

And the sixth part is … Well, I’m supposed to find out tonight.  It’s allegedly about wireless and mobile networking, but is probably really about … Iunno, maybe someone’s recipe for guacamole.  It’s hard to keep track.

I’ll have to write more about the programming guide tomorrow.  As this is the second-to-last presentation of this module, it won’t really benefit anybody, but my recommendation is to skip it and study a children’s Scratch MOOC, instead.  (See previous blog entries.)

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