William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

What I Did During My Winter Semester

Part of a series: Fall 2011 - Winter 2012 - Fall 2012 - Winter 2013

Class Description Grade
APPD 1001 User Interface Design and Development 100
DBAS 1100 Database Development I 100
HDWR 1000 Hardware I 100
INFT 1300 Human Relations for the IT Professional 97
OSYS 1000 Operating Systems - Unix 100
PROG 1400 Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming 98
SAAD 1001 Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design 92

(The “portfolio page” links go to the course’s page in my e-portfolio.)

APPD 1001 :: User Interface Design and Development :: 0.5 credits (portfolio page)

This was a new class and the instructor was enthusiastic about the subject. Given that, I was surprised how random and arbitrary the delivery was, and I was disappointed in how much the instructor chose to motivate by fear.

Students should be aware that this instructor tends to negotiate final grades rather than follow a set outline (eg: Assignments 15%, Tests 30%, etc..). If you're ever in this situation and you've done everything that was assigned and gotten full marks on the things that were evaluated, you should ask, point-blank, "Why not 100?" It's not that I was perfect (audio recording level on my instructional video was too low, one of my "poor user interface" examples was a bit of a stretch, my paper airplane didn't fly the farthest (I actually asked about that one since the instructor left us with the impression that day that we were being graded on the distance), etc..), but there wasn't any concrete evaluation to justify taking marks away, and I think I'm justified in my justification. Also recursion is recursive. I think the only thing I got back with marks the whole term was the in-class Flash assignment, which was an exercise in learning to follow hastily-written directions for a completely foreign (to me) UI creation environment. Oh, also in battling your classmates for the instructor's attention. I'm a champ at that. ;-p

Grade: 100

DBAS 1100 :: Database Development I :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

I enjoyed this course; it was just challenging enough to be interesting but not so overwhelming as to feel hopeless.

We learned about fundamental database design principles and learned to work with SQL. (As with most things like this, it helps if you've seen the original.) We learned basic data definition language and data manipulation language, and we learned constraints, joins, and set operations and used them to solve a variety of interesting problems, given a pre-existing Oracle database. There were bonus point opportunities here and there that were critical to my getting full marks. :-)

Finally, I can say from personal experience that this course helps you to get the jokes in XKCD.

Grade: 100

HDWR 1000 :: Hardware I :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

The framework for this course was chapters 1, 2, and 4-11 of Jean Andrews' CompTIA A+ 2009 In Depth. The book appears to be designed to generate students capable of passing the A+ certification test, which qualifies you to work at Staples and, while maintaining a straight face, ask customers for $70 to configure their router.

Fortunately, we had lectures that delivered content not in the book, and we had plenty of lab exercises. Yes, some of them were taking A+ practice questions, and the "correct" answers were sometimes wrong in the system, and yes, it did count a little bit towards our lab grade, but no, I am not the least bit bitter no sir why do you ask.

I didn't do perfectly in this course, but I did get full marks because there were all kinds of bonus points available and I took advantage of every opportunity to get them. It was exhausting, and I even ended up doing the major final project by myself. I have trust issues.

Grade: 100

INFT 1300 :: Human Relations for the IT Professional :: 0.5 credits (portfolio page)

Most of this course was reading Fundamentals of Organizational Behaviour published by Pearson Education Canada.

I found the book to be personally enriching and the information helpful. But I cannot condone the awful, arbitrary, and sometimes just-plain-wrong "MyOBLab" textbook quizzes, which were a required component of this course. I think it is also immoral to essentially outsource student grading to a textbook publisher, under any circumstances. There's not only a boy-you'd-better-have-the-late$t-edition conflict-of-interest, but also the remoteness and inaccessibility of the people responsible for administering your grades. If you are faced with a situation like this, I reccomend digging in your heels. I know I certainly will if I ever come across something like this again.

Outside of the readings, we put our knowledge to use by developing a fantasy high-tech product in teams of four. We didn't need to worry about reality and resource constraints - that way, we could focus on group mechanics. It also allowed our creativity to shine through. While I did most of the writing, the writing only came out as well as it did because there were so many good ideas. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience.

Grade: 97

OSYS 1000 :: Operating Systems - Unix :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

In this course we installed, maintained, configured services on, and created scripts in Solaris 10 and openSUSE 11.3. We also maintained a changelog as part of our weekly assignments. Well, I did. At the end of the course when it came time to submit proof, everybody wanted to copy mine. j/k

For our final project, we were asked to choose a Unix or Linux distribution and document its installation and the configuration of important network services. I did mine with Xubuntu 11.10, and got a few bonus points for sumbitting it early which got me up to full marks for the course.

Grade: 100

PROG 1400 :: Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

This class was kind of haphazard - you were never really sure what you were going to get most days. Also, there's something to be said for making your own teaching resources (e.g.: assignment definitions and rubrics), since writing them yourself at least ensures that you've read them. ;-p I really think this was a problem in the beginning, but the second half was better.

The other problem is that we had a huge open-ended project that really killed the momentum of the course. It would have been better to go in bite-sized chunks while we were learning the concepts, then go for the big one. We basically had 1) a project to demonstrate understanding of OOP, then, when this failed for most people, we 2) redid it and then we had 3) small assignments that teach OOP. At least most of us got out understanding OOP and a teensy bit of Java.

Another problem was that people were coming out of PROG 1100 with vastly different levels of understanding. There was an assignment in my section that required us to create a class and instantiate an array of objects of that class. I didn't completely understand what I was doing and I relied heavily on the textbook examples.

This was the first time this course was taught in the first year, and it was a learning experience for all involved.

Grade: 98

SAAD 1001 :: Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

This course is the most popular and universally beloved in the school - it's so good that once isn't enough for many students.

As far as I can tell, the aim of this course is to sufficiently obfuscate the principles of effective software design so that “software engineers” and “project managers” can justify their higher pay and social status compared to mere computer programmers.

We did a lot of UML modelling (frustrating), we made project proposals (bottomless pits), and we wrote a few reports. As part of the final round of reports, we got into groups (oh no! :-) and wrote and presented on various software development methodologies. My team presented on Extreme Programming, and my job was to go over its strengths and weaknesses (especially relative to sequential development).

Grade: 92
Tags: grades, nscc, school, schoolwork
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