Head above water, just about

I can’t believe it’s only been five and a half weeks since my modules started. I feel like I’ve been going flat-out for nearly half a year. I’m caught up through the first 8 weeks of study in all three modules, and have the first TMA submitted for each of them, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

There’s a bit of a time crunch in TT284 trying to finish up the end of the first block and submit the first TMA at the same time. The module team claim they don’t have recommendations for how long a block section will take to study so that students can better manage their time. If the module materials were printed, it would be easy to know at a glance roughly how long it might take to get through a section. But when it’s just a series of web pages that are of varying lengths, it’s quite a task to estimate the effort. There are also a lot of external reading recommendations that are only partially signalled ahead of time, so you can’t estimate these at all until you come upon them in the primary reading.

Anyway, none of that would have been a problem, but I promised my sons that I would make them Halloween costumes this year. Doing that alongside three modules and a TMA not accounted for in the module planner just about did me in. It wasn’t until Halloween was actually underway and I had one less thing on my plate that I was finally able to relax.

After that TMA was done, though, the two for the other modules tumbled out quickly. I’d done bits and pieces for all three all the way along, but TT284 (Web technologies) was one big essay-style report. You can do all the prep you want for something like that, but eventually you have to sit down and write it, and you basically can’t start any of it until you’re ready to start all of it. While it’s a pain of a TMA, and boring as imaginable, it’s also quite like a piece of work I’d actually be asked to produce for my day job, referencing excepted. So I can’t fault it. It’s a quality assessment. It’s difficult to gauge how well I’ve done on a monolith report. I expect I will have fewer specific examples of one or another classification than the tutor wants, and I only summarised some results rather than documenting them explicitly. I’d say it’s in the 85-92 region. I’d be disappointed but not surprised if I got something in the 80-85 range.

My TMA for M269 (Algorithms and data structures) was obviously a lot more fun, as it involved writing code and solving problems. The first time I wrote it, I gave a page and a half mathematical proof for a question worth just 3 marks. After all, it said, “Explain your answer.” In the end I just showed practical steps rather than the maths that would make it applicable to any problem. Anyway, if I’ve missed something on that TMA, it will be because I misread something, not because I understood it wrong or explained it poorly. I’m almost certainly above 90 marks on that one.

The TM257 (Cisco networking) assignment was great. A full 70% of the marks comes from stuff you do studying on the module anyway, and there’s very little room for the tutor to change the marks there. I’m confident I have the full 70 marks. For the other 30, I’ve done a great job with a 20 mark question, and expect full marks for that one, too. For the last 10 marks, I’m really not sure. It’s a diagram. But it’s a diagram with … Well, a lot of information on it. I emailed my tutor to explain my approach to the diagram, and that 10 marks didn’t seem like nearly enough for the question. He said that my approach was fine, but that 10 marks was possibly overly generous. So we’re clearly speaking two different languages. There’s scope to wipe out about 25 marks from mis-annotation on my diagram, so it’s difficult to believe it could be worth less than 10. So that one should come out above 90 marks as well, but I don’t know by how much.

Anyway, I’m caught up with TMAs until basically the end of January, so I’m going to crack on with my heavier-than-normal courseload. School Christmas fairs might do me in, though.

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