William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

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What I Did During My Fall Semester

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

Class Description Grade
COMM 1100 Technical Communications 95
DBAS 1001 Introduction to Databases 100
INFT 1000 Foundations in IT 98
NETW 1100 Networking I 100
PROG 1100 Programming I 99
WEBD 1000 Website Development 99

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

COMM 1100 :: Technical Communications :: 0.5 credits (portfolio page)

I could have received credit for this course had I put together a résumé and a cover letter and perhaps a few other things. I decided not to for two reasons. First, it makes no difference in the tuition you pay. Second, I figured I could use this course to bring up my average. Well, you can see how that turned out. :-)

The course textbook, A Concise Guide to Technical Communication, was what it was. A particular exercise from a textbook-specific online resource (a “MyTechCommLab”) was required to complete the course. That’s all fine and dandy, but the textbook publisher, Pearson Education Canada, only sold access to the resource if you also bought the printed or e-textbook. I didn’t want to buy the textbook, so I borrowed it from another campus on Novanet.

I then purchased access to a generic “MyTechCommLab” which had the same sort of exercises. Unfortunately, the generic MTCL didn’t allow me to join the instructor’s class, so he couldn’t access my records from the exercises. Now if they were going to be this particular, they should have given people the ability to purchase the textbook-specific resource without the textbook.

The instructor wrote to the support people at Pearson and their reply was unhelpful – basically “How dare they take the class and not purchase the textbook?” The instructor ended up having to manually record my grade – I had my completed exercise printed in anticipation of this.

The final deliverable for the course was a solo presentation. I had fun putting mine together and afterwards I narrated my PowerPoint and generated a video, which I then put on YouTube. Feel free to watch, especially if you’re in the market for a display.

Grade: 95

DBAS 1001 :: Introduction to Databases :: 0.5 credits (portfolio page)

This course was an introduction to databases through the medium of Microsoft Office Access. Most of the course consisted of following step-by step walkthroughs in the textbook to apply things to, and generate items from, a large pre-existing database.

Not having been exposed to databases before, I found the course very useful, though a lot of the material was just getting to know Access. The exercises were sometimes a bit tedious, but I don’t think that could have been helped.

The signature deliverable in the course was an independent implementation of the things we’d learned, applied to a business or concept of our own choosing. I’ve been a Star Trek fan in the past, so I came up with a rudimentary “fleet management” application for a Starfleet Command bureaucrat. (The database password is password – it’s just there to show that you can have one.)

Grade: 100

INFT 1000 :: Foundations in IT :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

This course seemed to be structured with the aim of helping us choose our concentrations since that’s a choice that needs to be made (or narrowed down to one of two categories) by the end of the first semester, instead of at the end of the first year, as it was in the past. This was to our frequent chagrin, as there was generally enough experience in the classes themselves to catalyze the solidification of the decision.

Many deliverables and reflections and presentations (a gong would have been helpful) and even an unfortunate MBTI personality test were among the components of this course.

Grade: 98

NETW 1100 :: Networking I :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

This course largely consisted of Cisco Packet Tracer labs and hands-on exercises using both physical gear and virtual machines. I somehow picked up 1.5 bonus points along the way, so my mark should really be that much higher than what is posted, but you win some, you lose some. :-)

It was reasonably smooth sailing, but the textbook was really dry, and sometimes we were given the labs before we had the lectures or assigned readings required to make sense of them. We also had one of our scheduled class meetings at 8:30 am. To make it in time and not waste 30+ minutes in stop-and-go, I’d leave my house in Bedford just after 6am, then once safely ensconced on the peninsula, I’d have my breakfast at Tim Hortons. Next semester I’m going to have to do this twice a week. If only the classes would meet no earlier than 9:30 – it would make a world of difference.

Grade: 100

PROG 1100 :: Programming I :: 1.5 credits (portfolio page)

In this course we learned to create simple Windows programs in Visual Basic .NET using the IDE Visual Studio.

Even though this course was worth triple the database course or the tech comm. course, it didn’t feel like I’d spent that much time on it. Then again, once you’re in a groove of coding, hours can go by in what seems like minutes.

This course demanded perfectionism, and after a few opening bumps I was working at that level. If it weren’t for a few silly mistakes on the first two assignments, I would have achieved a triple-digit score here, too.

You can download my final project if you want, though if you just want to see what it looked like, here’s a screenshot.

Grade: 99

WEBD 1000 :: Website Development :: 1 credit (portfolio page)

I saved the worst for last. I hated this class!

I don't have a flair for design, so web development is probably not for me. However, I can code my way out of a cardboard box, which is more than I can say for some people. Speaking of which, there were many times when I could have taught the course better than the instructor. That wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, except that this instructor also had a particularly heavy-handed approach. (My-way-or-the-highway and wait-what-am-I-doing-here don’t make for a harmonious mix.) She labored long under false assumptions. She was petrified about appearing to be in the wrong about anything, and she took (the numerous) corrections with a put-upon “I’ve been told” attitude.

The final project was to make a portfolio. It’s live on my website – you can go see it right now. I’ll always be grateful for having been given imperative to make it – if anyone asks, “So what did you do?” I can just pass them the link.

That being said, the requirements for the portfolio were onerous, and there were half-a-dozen handouts, all with long lists of things to answer, present, or check off.

I went through this list. In fact, I spent more time on my portfolio than any other thing I did all semester.

Murphy’s Law was in effect: On the day I presented my portfolio, I learned that she had specific requirements for our list of skills – it needed to say where we acquired them and how long we’ve had them. This critical information wasn’t anywhere in the handouts. Yes, it was on her website, but it should have been in the handouts along with the 32,767 other things she wanted to see.

While other people presented, I hurriedly affixed the required information to my résumé, since it was required to pass. (You can see what I did here – look under “Skills & Interests”. Yeah, it looks last-minute because it literally was last-minute.) I lost points for the formatting.

Well, at least now I know how Armando Galarraga felt.

Grade: 99
Tags: grades, nscc, school, schoolwork

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