Friday, April 27, 2007

Slow-Mo Man

Greg Billingham is running the London Marathon, for Children with Leukaemia, in slow motion and has just gone passed the office where I work. His plan is to complete the marathon by noon on Sunday 29th April.

ref: Greg Billingham
ref: BBC News Report
ref: BBC News - Watch

OU: M450

A description for M450 “The Computer Project”, the replacement for The M301 Project (TM421), The M358 Project (TM422) and The M360 Project (TM427), is now available. At present I am planning to do this course next year.

ref: The Computing project

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

M359: TMA01 Result

Got my result back this evening for M359 TMA01. 98% and I am really pleased especially as I thought that I would loose a substantial amount of marks for question 1 at least.

I have made a start on TMA02 and managed to completed question 1.

By the way I forgot to mention that a couple of weeks ago I received "Block 3 The database language SQL" in the post. The pdf version does not appear to be available for download yet.

Friday, April 06, 2007

M263: TMA03 Result

Got my result back yesterday for M263 TMA03. 97% and I am well chuffed, especially as this was one of the most taxing TMA's that I have had to do.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

M253: Soul Destroyer

M253: “Team Working in Distributed Environments” is a 10 point level 2 course costing £260.

OU Summary
M253 gives you an understanding of the issues and processes involved in planning and carrying out a team-based, problem-solving project where team members are not co-located: a situation that is becoming more common in the electronic age. You will gain practical experience in team working on a case study, which will be developed through several phases. You will be able to develop: your skills in analysis, design and evaluation; your ability to reflect critically on the processes and outcomes involved; and your team-working skills. You will work remotely, communicating with your tutor and collaborating with other team members electronically.

What this summary does not tell you is that…
  1. This course does not reflect a majority of cases where you will find yourself working in a project team;
  2. You are reliant upon your other team members. Without them you run the risk of failing the course;
  3. You have to stick to the course schedule. You can not get a head;
  4. The teams tend to be run on a democratic basis with each member taking it in turn to be for example project leader. Can you imagine participating in a real life project where the team leader changed every 3 – 4 weeks?
  5. The supplied materials are minimal, both printed and electronic, and comprise primarily of 21 resource sheets (in the form of downloadable pdf files) of up to 10 pages per booklet;
  6. For those who have not studied an OU course that introduces you to system development (i.e. the former M206 or M301) or worked in a system development role, some of the concepts can be difficult and time consuming to grasp;
  7. Communication between team members is limited to FirstClass conference areas, e-mail and FirstClass online messaging. There is no form of verbal communication available;
  8. M253 is extremely time-consuming. You will end up spending more time on this course then you will on a majority of others.

I started M253 with a lot of enthusiasm but as the course progressed I found myself having to keep motivating myself to keep going, and towards the end I was getting quiet depressed, continuously looking for the “light at the end of the tunnel” when the course would be finished.

Is the course good value for money? No!
Is the course worth 10 points? No! Not for the amount of effort required.
Would I recommend M253? No! Unless it is mandatory for your degree.

So to sum up:


ref: Team Working in Distributed Environments

OU: and relax....

Yes I know that it has been a while since my last posting but I have just had a hectic 3 weeks. I have had to submit the ECA for M253 (26.Mar), TMA03 for M263 (02.Apr) and TMA01 for M359 (04.Apr). Oh the joys of doing 3 courses at the same time. Fortunately I have now finished M253, thank god, so I will hopefully not be in the same situation again especially as it did get a bit stressful. Of the 3 I enjoyed the M263 one the most, even though it was the hardest and required a lot of thought. The M359 TMA was ok except for question 1 which was a 600 word summary on how DBMS’s implement the enduring issues in data management. And what can be said for the M253 ECA? Only one word… HORRID!!!

My next set of TMA’s are…
M263 TMA04 (cut-off: Thursday 24.May)
M359 TMA02 (cut-off: Wednesday 16.May)