As One Year Closes . . .

Photo by Nagatoshi Shimamura on Unsplash

Well, I did better than expected on TMA 1 for TM129 Technologies in Practice. Maybe networking is not so bad after all. Not sure I would want to do any more of it but who knows?

I did think I would enjoy robotics a lot more, however.

The programming aspect of the robotics block is enjoyable though. It is all in Python. I even like playing around with Lego robots, virtual though they may be. If you want to play with real Lego robots then you might want to pick up the ageing EV3 robotics set.

Sadly, the materials are all online but, on the plus side, freshly updated by the module team. Each week of study follows a similar pattern. You read about robotics for half the week, which I often find fascinating and thought-provoking. There is plenty of optional further reading.

The second half involves practical work. The robot simulator. It uses Python but does not really teach Python. You can find that in TM112 Introduction to Computing and IT 2. In TM129, it is all about making the robot do various things, such as moving about and using sensor data.

Fortunately, unlike some others, I had no problems installing the software, Docker, and setting up the virtual notebooks. I did take some time getting used to the presentation of the content, which is in markdown. There were also several bugs that meant things did not work quite as intended.

These are likely to be teething problems. As I said, we are the first group to experience the refreshed content for the robotics block. It will be the same for the third and final block in TM129, on operating systems.

Also, I would have preferred a bit more explanation for some of the practical activities. Or, at least, for it to be explained in clearer, simpler terms. There appears to be a general feeling on the forum that it is a bit confusing.

If I could ask for anything else it would be some more practical activities, or challenges, where I could put into practice what is being taught.

Generally, tutors recommend working on the TMA alongside studying the relevant content in the block. I usually do. Until now, I have always been more confident about questions relating to the practical activities.

Still, as my thoughts turn to next year, I am beginning to think about my next modules. I will be starting Stage 2 next October. Should I do two modules side by side or just the one? If I choose the latter, completing my degree will take forever. Work, however, is busy. Certainly, recently.

So, what to choose? I have grown fond of programming and, surprisingly, maths. Two Stage 2 modules, M250 Object-Oriented Java Programming and M269 Algorithms, Data Structures and Computability, sound like they should be right up my street!

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