M250 and TT284: Half-year review

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Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

I am about half-way through M250 Object-oriented Java programming and TT284 Web technologies at the Open University. At the end of this academic year, I will be half-way through my BSc (Hons) Computing and IT degree. How times flies!

So, I thought I would spend a bit of time looking back over the coursework so far.

I have submitted two TMAs for TT284 and one for M250 so far. They follow a similar pattern. For TT284, roughly half of the TMA is devoted to coding questions and the other half is essay writing. The coding questions have been a mixture of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and a bit of PHP and SQL. I have had to edit existing code rather than create it from scratch. In any case, the coding questions have all been based on exercises in the module materials.

I like the byte-sized videos that the module teams have created this year. They have covered some of the individual coding exercises in the module materials and approaches to the TMA questions. I find them to be a good steer.

The key to doing well on the TMA is reading the question and doing what it tells you. The essay writing question suggests what you need to cover and asks you to relate it to the given scenario. I think this approach removes some of the ambiguity that can creep into essay writing questions. There is often a degree of subjectivity in what is being looked for by tutors.

M250, on the other hand, is all about the coding. No essay writing required. There are usually two or three questions in each TMA. Each is based around a particular scenario for which you must write the code. Each question, which is broken down into several parts, starts off relatively straight-forward. It becomes progressively trickier towards the end. The last one or two parts of each question can be a bit of a head-scratcher.

The forums are a great source of inspiration when you have spent hours fumbling around for an answer. Tutors can be another source of guidance. Though, like the forums, they cannot tell you the answer but can point you on the right path.

The textbook and some of the activities in the module materials can be helpful. The TMA usually tells you upon which chapter the question is based. Although some of the harder parts of each questions require you to pull together principles from different chapters.

A very useful feature is the testbed. This is an online tool within the module website. It helps you see whether your code compiles and whether it returns the expected values when run. You can also use BlueJ to test your code.

This usually leads to a lot of trial-and-error testing! It is easy to spend hours and hours trying to come up with a solution to parts of each question. How then will I fare when it comes to the exam? I only have three hours . . .

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