Related to the service management studies of TM254, I have a hard Rule Number 1 for service transition: Never make a change on a Friday.  (Ask any IT professional why.)  For whatever reason, this hasn’t been implemented into ITIL, yet, but I’ll continue my campaign.

Likewise, I’ve recently started to note a de facto Rules Number 1 & 2 for Open University study: Get ahead of the study planner, and Stay ahead of the study planner.  I’ve given this advice here a few times, now, but it’s actually becoming my default advice to any new student.  You never know what challenges are going to come at you during your module, but you can be pretty much guaranteed they’re coming.  The last thing you need when dealing with real-life tragedy is trying to play catch up in your studies.

With this in mind, I’ve gone through the module guides and first units of each module, to get a feel of what I’m in for this year.

I’m impressed with the level of discussion in both modules, but particularly in TM254.  I find myself almost having arguments with the material, and either coming around to its way of looking at things, or at least being able to better defend my viewpoints when I disagree.  This is sure to continue to be the case with the service management block of TM254, but I’m hoping to have similar challenges with the discussion in the other blocks.  Also, I enjoy that the module discusses that ITIL has specific best practices for service management, but rather than having students memorise them, it simply discusses that a best practice will need to be considered and arrived at, but leaves the specific practices considered up to the student.  It isn’t providing a solution, but a way to frame the problem so that it’s easier to find a solution.

One unfortunate aspect of TM254 is that when it says the workload for a task is three hours, I’m not getting away with just putting in two.  They’ve done too good a job estimating my ability to grapple with the materials.  It’s going to take a lot of time this year.

M250, on the other hand, is almost exactly what I expected to find.  It’s a mature module, and has all the hallmarks of an OU module with a module team who has adapted as students have fed back their reactions to the materials.  The software installation, for example, has been dumbed-down to an insanely simple drag-and-drop affair, with the drawback that you have to kind of take it as it is.  It’s not going to want to work outside of a drive’s root (for Windows computers) without considerable work.

There’s also an active campaign at the beginning of the module that feels like they’re encouraging students to drop the module rather than do poorly on it.  While I appreciate that this can definitely benefit a student who is spending their own money on a university degree, I wonder if it might be motivated by internal evaluation factors of the module team.  Regardless, for those students willing to stick it out, there’s an enormous amount of support that likely wasn’t there for the first run, such as programming bootcamp exercises, quizzes, forums for helping get up to speed and even collaborate on approaches to assessment questions (though of course not actual solutions).  It’s not as supportive as MST124 was, but it’s another good example of a mature module better supporting students with challenging material.

Both modules have significant portions devoted to group work.  I refer you to the Linear Sequence of Strife.  TM254 even goes so far as to having students determine a group name, so clearly somebody’s been watching too much Apprentice.  Which is everybody who’s watched the Apprentice.  I honestly go into these assuming I’ll have to cover all the bases myself (or at least making sure it’s clear I’ve gone at least as far as boundaries allow), so any help I get will be a nice surprise.  I should probably be more concerned with bad help than no help, but so long as someone’s willing to try, we can all help get the standards of work up.

I don’t think M250 will give me much in the way of headaches, though I have been warned about it.  We’ll see, but I honestly think any time sink to come from M250 will be me playing with it for giggles rather than frustration with an assignment that won’t work.  (Working code is always a bonus, but I’m not silly enough to believe it’s an actual requirement to passing!)

The websites for both M250 and TM254 open on Tuesday, so I’ll have another post later this week, maybe on the weekend, after having a bit of a nose around.  But M250 books arrived a couple of days ago.  My study area had … deteriorated its study-conducive environment … since I finished (or really started) revision this summer, so I decided to tidy it up nice and proper before unboxing my new materials.  Here they are:

M250 materials … and tea

The contents are:

  • Getting started with objects
    • Units 1-5
  • Inheritance and how to program
    • Units 6-8
  • Collections and file I/O
    • Units 9-12
  • Exam Handbook
  • Contents Checklist

In addition to the books, there’s also a module guide and a software guide, which are only available online.  I’m happy to look/read through these books before reading the guides, but I’m not likely to start studying properly until after I at least get the software guide.  I want to know I’m using the correct version of BlueJ (the module’s preferred/required programming IDE) and plugins/software modules.

The Exam Handbook only allows for highlighting for use in the exam, and must be the OU-printed version of the handbook.  So I’ve put that back in the box, slipped it under my monitor tray, and won’t get it out again until the exam.

That’s in contrast to the other books, which are now back in the box under my monitor tray, where I’ll leave them until after the entire module’s over, at which point I’ll toss them in recycling.  I wish the OU would give me a choice of whether or not I want to receive hard-copy materials.  I still have my useless SenseBoard on my desk, not sure if I can ever find any proper use for it.

There’s one book due to be shipped for TM254, but I suspect they missed the shipping date, which is standard procedure for first-run modules: Make certain that everything is behind schedule.  The book being shipped is Project Management for IT-related projects (2nd edn), edited by Bob Hughes.  There’s also an ebook being made available to us (likely on a limited time loan, I’m guessing) for ITIL Lifecycle Essentials by Claire Agutter.  I’ve snooped through this as it’s available to all students through the OU library.  It seems well written, and is thoughtfully laid out, so I don’t think I’ll have any issues with it.

Six years is a long time to work on anything.  I’ve only had one job which lasted longer than that.  (In fairness, so did my dad … Since he only ever really had one job.)  But it’s a bit of a rush to realise I’ve only got four more final prep weeks ahead of me.

How’d it go this year?  I took many fewer MOOCs, but learned much more.  This summer’s work has been worth well more than twice what I’ve been through with TU100 so far at the OU.  Computer science and object-oriented programming were covered in far more depth than just introductions, abstract program design was probably at introduction level (possibly a bit lower), and my mathematics refresher was very strong: It seems to have covered all of MU123.  And all of it was free!

I’ve also gotten cosy with this year’s modules.

For MST124, as I said, my Khan Academy prep seems to have taken me through everything I would have been exposed to in MU123.  Additionally, I’ve worked through the “boot camp” for MST124 (a series of practice tests and live/recorded tutorials reviewing pre-MST124 maths), and the first two units of MST124.

MST124 is unique compared to other modules I’ve been exposed to or heard about at the OU: They recommend you open your books and start going through the material as soon as you get them.  They know that this stuff is difficult for some people, and give us as much time to get through it as possible.  So even though I’d planned on only getting a week ahead with my study, I’ve done as recommended, and am three or four weeks in.  It’s going really well so far, with only some silly and redundant trigonometric concepts giving me pause.

For anybody considering MST124, here’s my recommendation for preparation: Don’t bother with the “Revise and Refresh” learning materials: They’re rubbish.  But use the quizzes to check your level, and definitely do the tutorials, at least the recorded ones.  For any gaps the quizzes turn up, use Khan Academy.  Or your favourite YouTube resource that explains to your learning style.  (The actual MST124 materials are fantastic, though.)

I’ve even rattled off my first TMA, which I’ll talk about in a different post.

For TM129, there’s not really much prep work for me to do.  TM129 used to be three separate 10 credit modules which have been grouped into a monolithic 30 credit module.  These previous modules are preserved in TM129’s three blocks: robotics, computer networks, and Linux.

The second two blocks don’t need much explanation: I work professionally in both of these fields at a level higher than that covered in the module, so there won’t be much for me to wrap my head around.

I’ve only been through the first week of the robotics block, but it seems I’ve inadvertently had the perfect preparation for that: the Begin Robotics MOOC presented by the University of Reading on FutureLearn.  A lot of the same material is covered, with the academics stripped out of it in the MOOC.  It looks as though the MOOC went into more depth into cybernetics, but I’ll know more later.

So that takes care of the TM129 content, but not its processes: The reports, the studying, assignments … the ePortfolio …

Well, I’ve done prep work for all of that, too, already: It was called TU100.

My TM129 materials finally showed up yesterday.  I’ve already described the box contents, there was nothing unexpected.  I’ve had fun re-reading I, Robot though.

TM129 has one TMA for each of its three blocks, but they won’t be visible to read until closer to their due dates.  (My experience on TU100 tells me that it’s possible the module team isn’t done writing them, yet.)  I gave TMA00 a glance, expecting it be along the lines of write something about why you’re taking the class, and make sure you know how to zip and upload.

On the one hand, I was right: Those things are part of TMA00.  But the second half of it wants us to explore the ePortfolio.

TM129’s ePortfolio is nominally a record of your learning on the module: Activities that are somewhat more involved than practice exercises, and somewhat less involved than TMA questions.  After completing them, you’re asked to discuss the activity, particularly focusing on what skills it demonstrates and what avenues of study it opens up.  The pitch is that you could even show it to prospective employers to show them how much you’ve learned! (Pro tip: Never, ever show the ePortfolio to a prospective employer.  Or anyone.  Ever.)

In reality, the ePortfolio appears to be a tool meant to tie your study to your learning objectives.  And that’s cool!  Because it tells you how to get top grades on your TMAs, EMA, and the module.  The better you can sign-post how your answers match the learning objectives, the better you’re going to do.  In fact, the ePortfolio extra guidance essentially spells out how you can get top marks on your ePortfolio entries and therefore your TMAs.  (It also makes it very, very clear that if you want to half-arse it and just paste a screen shot and a three-line summary, you’re still going to pass TM129.  Welcome to university!)

So how does this fit into TMA00?  You’re asked to make an ePortfolio entry.  Not a fake one, and not a TMA00 specific one.  You’re supposed to read through the ePortfolio and choose any one activity to give a go.  I’d like to shake the hand of the genius who dreamed that up.  It’s a brilliant way to engage the students in A) familiarising themselves with the types of activities contained therein, B) the relative effort levels required, and C) give some thought as to what will be required to complete them.  If they’d asked students to do those things, about a quarter would probably actually spend any thought on it.

I chose an activity from the networking block (of course) and it was something I’d done a million times before: Diagramming my home network.  The trouble with this (and I suspect most things in the networking block … and the Linux block … and possibly the robotics block …) is that if I’ve done those things a million times, how am I going to learn anything, and how am I going to tie not learning anything to my learning objectives?  (Without lying, I mean.  I could take the coward’s way out, but there’s no challenge in that.)

I’m keen to see how my tutor responds to my solution.  To paraphrase Kirk, I changed the conditions of the TMA.  I set myself a challenge that yielded the same result as the proferred activity, but did it in a different way than directed.  (I also did it the way that I was directed, just to cover all the bases.)  I then tied the learning outcomes to the self-created task, and wrote about that, instead.  I highly suspect this will work, but I’ll let you know.

(To be clear, though, students are told to discuss the skills and knowledge displayed by the activity, not to discuss what was learned.)

Anyway, it’s not the only TMA work I’ve done this week.  I’ve also done half of MST124’s TMA01.  I’ve decided to use Word for my TMAs, since that’s likely the only place I’ll need to use written maths skills in the future.  I’ve finished Unit 1, and will complete the rest of the TMA after the module starts and I get through Unit 2.

Whilst many of my TM129 peers received their module materials yesterday, I’m still (sort of) waiting for mine.  I’m only sort of waiting, because A) the James May show on the DVD is on YouTube, B) I already have an e-copy of the Microsoft Networking Essentials book, and C) the I, Robot book was a favourite of mine in junior high school.  As these are the only three things in the box, I can probably stop worrying.

I’ve looked a bit at the TM129 online materials, which starts on the Robotics block, but I’m not really bothered by it.  My studying will be very similar in style to TU100 (active reading through bullet-point notes, combined with activities stored in a OneNote notebook on the cloud), so while I probably will start the study a bit early, it’s not really necessary.

MST124, on the other hand … I can’t really figure out how to study this.  The first half of the module or so is going to be revision.  (That’s “review” to any other Yanks in the audience.)  I’ve spent a few hours this weekend trying to “study” it, but all I’m really doing is glancing over the descriptions, then working on the activities.  As it’s all review, I haven’t come across anything that I can’t do, yet, so I don’t know what to do when that happens.

I’ve got two weeks to study each unit, more or less, and there are twelve units.  In that time, I need to get through around 100 pages of text, a few hundred exercises (or at least several dozen), possibly sit through a tutorial, and get through either half of a TMA or an iCMA.  There’s probably more than a few exercises in Maxima thrown in, as well.  It’s not bad at all, it’s just not obvious where to put my time, especially when I’ll have to split it with TM129.  (Thank goodness there isn’t much actual learning to do in TM129.)

I think the first thing I’ll do is hope for recorded online TMAs.  If I can watch a recorded online TMA, I skip the roughly 30% of the time that the tutors give over to sitting around waiting for people to work on examples.  I watched two revision boot-camp tutorials this week, and easily saved 40 minutes on each of them by skipping over empty sections, and more time skipping parts not relevant to me.  The only questions I ever ask during tutorials anyway are those to do with policy.  I mostly sit in because I know the tutors will drop TMA-specific hints.

Next, until I get to differentiation, I’m going to work backwards when necessary.  I’d like to do all the activities in the books to make sure there are no blindspots, and because practice is the best way to retain maths skills.  If there is a blind spot, I’ll back up and run through it, encorporating external resources as necessary.

Finally, once I get to and past differentiation, I think I’m just going to wing it.  Read without notes, try exercises, and practice, practice, practice.  Taking notes just doesn’t make sense to me with maths.  The closest I’ll come is following along the examples with a pen in hand.  I may alternate weeks between MST124 and TM129, as splitting days may throw off my rhythm.

We’ll see how it goes.  My intent is to stay one unit ahead throughout the module.  I’ve fallen afoul of getting too far ahead before, and the motivational issues that causes.  It can also make it a headache for revision.

Well that was earlier than expected!  I didn’t expect them to ship the books for MST124 out for another two weeks, but they were waiting for me when I arrived home yesterday.

The box is heavy.  My son picked up just one of the books inside and grunted under the weight.  It seems to be about a quarter acre of rainforest in the box.  The box contains:

  • MST124 Book A
    • Unit 1: Algebra
    • Unit 2: Graphs and equations
    • Unit 3: Functions
  • MST124 Book B
    • Unit 4: Trigonometry
    • Unit 5: Coordinate geometry and vectors
    • Unit 6: Differentiation
  • MST124 Book C
    • Unit 7: Differentiation methods and integration
    • Unit 8: Integration methods
    • Unit 9: Matrices
  • MST124 Book D
    • Unit 10: Sequences and series
    • Unit 11: Taylor polynomials
    • Unit 12: Complex numbers
  • Computer Algebra Guide (about using Maxima)
  • Handbook (74 page cheat-sheet you can take with you into the exam)
  • MST124 Guide (as “worth while” as every other OU module guide)
  • TMA form PT3 for posting assignments (Ha!)
  • Specimen exam paper, new for this year
  • Contents list

Here’s an “unboxing” photo with a bonus of my study area:

I had a look through the guide, the handbook, and the computer algebra guide, and then searched through they Labyrinth of Hidden OU “Support” Forums to look for anything interesting to do before the site opens.

The first thing of note was that the guide actually encourages students to start as early as possible on the material (literally as soon as they get the books, and before the site opens) and stay ahead until they’re done and it’s time to revise.  Cool!  Finally a module for the hares!

I downloaded and installed Maxima, and will use it as required, but as soon as the module’s over I’ll go back to doing what I used to do: WolframAlpha.  Maxima basically takes the place of requiring everybody to buy an expensive graphing calculator.

Then I looked into typesetting.  I have a lot of conflicting thoughts on the typesetting.  The first is that during the exam, I won’t have a computer to make my work pretty, so I may want to simply practice writing it out by hand for performance sake.  As I browse through the specimen paper, I don’t think this is much of a concern.

So for computer typsetting of my TMAs, I can either use LaTeX or MS Word’s equations.  (Or OpenOffice, I suppose, but I’m intentionally using MS through this degree course.  Another option would have been to use LibreOffice with the TexMaths LaTeX plugin.)  Last night I went through the guides for both.

Going in, I thought that LaTeX would be the better solution, as everybody glows about it.  It’s more work to learn, but apparently worth it in the long run.  In my opinion, the long run would have to be very, very, very long indeed.  It took about five times as long to learn as Word, because in addition to speaking its language for the maths, you also have to build the entire document around it.  Making a decent TMA template would probably take an initial few hours to get it looking as good as Word, with researching all the required functionality.  That said, if I were doing an entire maths degree, or was writing a book or thesis, it’d probably be worth the investment.  It’s absolutely professional quality.

Word, however, was much easier, quicker to learn, and was just barely behind in professionalism.  The only drawback was that the size of dynamic brackets wasn’t as nice as it was in LaTeX.  In exchange, you get to not worry about the rest of the document, easier and more intuitive codes, the ability to avoid codes altogether and instead point-and-click, instant rendering and feedback, and the data is then extremely portable rather than locked in a PDF.  If I need to write equations in another module (as I had to on every TU100 TMA) or elsewhere in life, the Word experience is also more portable.  If I needed complete control and customisation, then I’d probably opt for LaTex, but don’t see that happening in my current life tragectory.  It’s possibly worth it to learn the LaTeX codes, however, as they can be used in the Open University forums.

There are a few pre-module tutorials they’re running through September, and I’ll probably check one or two out, but I’m not that concerned.  After the Khan Academy prep I did this summer, I’m pretty confident already with about half the module.

Something my nine-year-old self would be horrified to hear me utter: Will summer break just end, please?

In addition to being a part time OU student, I also work in education.  Well, okay, I work in a school.  I’m not sure it has much to do with education.  The point is, both my full time job and my part time studies shift considerably during the summer.

For work, I stop fixing small, day-to-day things, and start fixing enormous things that take months.  It’s normally fun, because I get to do a lot of research and learn a lot of things.  However, this summer I’m alone in my department for various reasons, so don’t have time to do any of the large projects, so we’ve outsourced them all.  I mostly keep things running in between looking over the shoulders of consultants.  It’s frustrating, but hopefully this will be the only year.  (Although we’re converting to an academy, so who knows what to expect next.)

For my studies, I transition to MOOCs of personal interest.  This year has been wonderful for that, because I’ve really come a long way both in terms of programming languages and programming design concepts.  But … It’s just small hobby stuff.  And I can’t get involved in big hobby stuff, because I don’t want it to overlap and eat into my OU studies.

Last summer by this time, there was an Introduction forum open, followed by course-specific early-bird forums.  I’m anticipating early-bird forums amost as much as my grandparents used to anticipate catching dinner at Sizzler at 3 PM.  I hope they still have them.  (The early-bird forums, not the early-bird dinner special.  Though if Sizzler’s around when I retire, I’m definitely down for dinners before the school run.)  It seems like a good way to gel the nation-wide footprint of students for the presentation before splitting us off into tutor groups, so that we can bond and feel more comfortable in the FB groups.

But really, I just want to get stuck in again and be studying properly.  My poor nine-year-old self would have fainted by now.

Course Title: CS50 Introduction to Computer Science
Provider: Harvard via edX
Price: Free
Level: Introductory
Effort: 10 – 20 hours per problem set, 9 problem sets and a final, self-paced
Prerequisites: None
Completion awards: Verified Certificate available for USD$90

About the course:
A lot of people view this course as the gold standard in introductory computer science MOOCs.  Having been through it now, I’m afraid I have to disagree.  It is an amazing course, though, and the one best placed to get you into the middle of useful coding as quickly as possible.

The structure of the course follows what you might expect of a university course translated to an online MOOC: each week has a very, very long lecture, followed by shorter bits from teaching assistants highlighting important concepts, and then there’s a problem set which is a series of challenges which ostensibly can be solved using the techniques introduced that week.  There is an exponential increase in difficulty from week to week, because both the material covered is more difficult, and the amount of documentation relating to solving the challenges is reduced.  This is meant to foster habits of independent study to resolve such challenges in the future.

This structure is the first relative weakness of the course.  (Relative to the MIT CS introduction course using Python.)  The MIT course imagines education looking more like the web.  The Harvard course spends countless resources trying to make the web ape its own institution.

As a former trainer, the most important thing about educating people is keeping them awake and interested long enough to learn, so it’s really about entertaining.  The lecturer, Professor David Malan, is extremely entertaining on stage.  The format is fundamentally outdated, however.  There could be a hundred clips where there’s currently a 105 minute video, each collated, indexed, and cross-referenced.  A build-your-own lecture series could take the place of an impending Sander’s Hall nap.  MIT did this beautifully in their latest foray into CS as a MOOC.

The languages “taught” are fantastic.  They start by giving a few rules-of-thumb in Scratch, and pretend that they’ve therefore taught it.  They next spend several weeks on C, and this is an impressive tutorial for the language … for any language.  They then give a small grounding in Python, and then a cheat sheet for SQL, JavaScript, and maybe a few others.  Really, I think they’d do better by having a hard limit on two languages, because everything beyond Python was literally worse than having no experience at all.  Students are expected to meaningfully interact with those other languages, without sufficient preparation.  In solving PSets, students already know those topics, or they luck into trying the correct technique the first time, or they end up chasing their own tails for hours and hours before giving up and asking on a public forum for help.  I spent many hours answering questions in the CS50 subreddit to alleviate some of the pain of such students.  (An example is that they expect students to use object-oriented programming techniques, but never discuss what an object is, let alone what object-oriented programming is.)

I would disagree that it is an introductory module.  It may be introductory if you’re on campus at Harvard, and can stop in and chat to a staff member for twenty minutes, and you’re literally spreading this across a third of a year.  If you’re doing this on your own, you’re going to have to come with a pretty strong intuition of why computer programs don’t do what you expect, and how to troubleshoot to figure out where it all went a bit wrong.  (The tool created to understand this in C is fantastic.  Because of this, they don’t teach how to figure out how to do it when learning C, and therefore students have no concept of basic troubleshooting techniques once the module moves away from C and that tool is no longer available.)

If you survive through to the victory lap of the final (which is really just whatever personal project you want to make a video for), you’ll be ready to take on any formal CS education.  I doubt you’ll be prepared for properly undertaking independent study, however, because the theory behind the coding is often ignored.

The real time I put into this was between 4 and 12 hours per PSet (typically on the lower side), so maybe 60 hours, plus another two hours each “week” watching lectures.

I’d recommend people interested in CS and coding take this module … but only if they also undertake the MIT or UBC introductory modules.

This is just an update on my last post about maths prep for OU’s MST124 module.  Altogether I’ve given it about two and a half weeks of study and revision, and I feel completely confident with my level of maths going into MST124.

I think my breakthrough occurred when I decided that I probably should stop trying complex equations in my head or doodling on my screen with the mouse.  It was when I pulled out a pad of paper and a pen that it all slotted into place, and it turned out my brain hadn’t completely liquefied in the several decades since I’d left school; It was just super lazy.  Not a shocking realisation, then.

So I’m nearly back up to the level I was when I dropped out of high school, with exponential and logarithm manipulation added to my tool belt.  (Learning logarithms was way cool, but the Khan Academy model wasn’t set out in the most logical order.  It took going back to the beginning after I’d gotten halfway through and learned bits and pieces from other sites.)

I went back onto the OU’s Maths Choices MST124 diagnostic Are You Ready quiz last night, and this time ran away with full marks in less than 15 minutes.  A dramatic increase on the 40-something minutes it took last year for 70- or 80-something percent.  Still, that’s simply being able to crunch the numbers.  If they were to throw words like “justify” or “explain” I’d be reduced to the sludge in the bottom of my vegetable “crisper” in no time.  So I still have plenty to do this summer in terms of getting proofs down and maybe skipping a bit ahead so I’m not taken off guard.

When deciding between the MU123 and MST124 maths modules for my degree, I put a fair amount of weight on the diagnostic “Are you ready?” quiz for MST124.  It said my results were good, there were a few areas I should brush up on, but overall I should be just fine on it.

I won’t start the module until 7 October, so I’ll have to wait until then before I throw their pants doused with lighter fluid onto a telephone wire and chanting, “Burn, liar!  Burn!”

I just don’t know how prepared I really am.  See, the OU have opened up a “revise and refresh” website for MST124.  It’s amazing that they even do that.  It has diagnostic quizzes with typical questions one might encounter on various MU123 blocks.  Depending on how well you do on that, they have some cheat sheets for reminding you how to solve certain problems.  (It keeps referring me to read blocks from MU123 … Uh … probably not worth it to buy the books on eBay.)

When I do those, I perform a bit better than I did on the MST124 AYR quiz.  I note my weak areas, I study the sheets, and I do better.  But it kept feeling like it was only checking a very, very narrow section of maths at that level.

So I went to my original plan for MST124 preparation: Khan Academy!  (I can’t say enough good things about this site.  My older son enjoys it about as much as he enjoys Roblox.)  I’ve been working over there for about a week, now, shoring up as many weak spots as I can find, but that list keeps getting longer, and longer, and longer.  The site can hone in on your weaknesses the way painkiller commercials claim their product can.  And the areas of study can be very, very specific.  Like … “Sinusoidal models word problems“.  I have to decipher it before I can decide whether or not I know it and/or need it.  (I apparently do know it.  But good luck ever getting me to recognise it.)

They’re not that difficult to study, it’s just that there’s SO MANY OF THEM!  I’ve “mastered” something like 650 identified skills, and have more than 500 to go.  Granted, that’s for all the maths they can currently teach and evaluate on Khan Academy.  I won’t need anywhere near all of them by the time I start MST124.  But the skills can sometimes take an entire night.  I’ve got a hundred and thirtysomeodd days until the module starts, and a lot of those are on holiday.  In a lot of ways, the pre-study preparation feels harder than TU100 was.

Unlike TU100, though, I’m learning tons, not just practising.  And the practise is definitely necessary to get me into fighting shape again for the module.  And more practise.  And some more.  And it’s also fun.  But that part isn’t different from TU100.  I’ve really enjoyed my journey so far.

I won’t know until after I’m in the middle of it which was better for preparation: The OU MST124 preparation site, designed specifically for it, or Khan Academy, which is pretty much drinking from the fire hose.  Or Niagara Falls.  We’ll see how it goes.

One final bit for today: Results for TU100 will be in on 19 July.  My tutor will give us a cheeky heads-up if we passed or not before that, but nothing more.