New Year’s Resolutions for TT284 and M250!

Happy New Year! Read on for a series of New Year’s Resolutions for TT284 and M250 with the Open University.

#1. Get familiar with the basics of HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and SQL before you start TT284. Module materials assume no previous knowledge. However, there is a host of coding languages to understand, and the materials do not cover them in great depth. Tutors expect you to look up how to do some things yourself from external sources.

#2. Revise programming concepts from TM111 and, particularly, TM112. This will be helpful with M250. I have found many of the things I learnt in these modules, particularly problem-solving and setting out algorithms, to be helpful in constructing Java code.

#3. Get an early start on the module materials. I would give this advice every year. The module websites opened in early September, a good few weeks before the official start of the module. You will appreciate the extra time when it comes to completing the TMAs.

#4. Monitor the module forums, ask questions and if you can, answer those from fellow students. The module forums are invaluable. They help to clarify, explain, and steer you onto the right path, without ever just giving you the answers. Also, if you are on social media, check out the groups on Facebook, Whatsapp and Discord.

#5. Attend the tutorials or, at least, watch the recordings. Come up with some questions beforehand and ask the tutors directly. Check out the byte-size videos produced by the module team for TT284. They are new for this presentation and clarify and explain the module materials and TMAs. See also the associated YouTube videos, some referenced in the module materials, for chapters in the textbook for M250.

#6. Do not submit your coursework too early. By this, I mean weeks, if not months, in advance. You miss out if there are any late changes or corrections to the TMA questions. You also do not get the benefit of advice from tutorials or the module forums. Most damagingly, tutors are under no obligation to accept a resubmission if you later find you want to change one of your answers. Especially, if they have already started marking your TMA. I covered this in my previous post but it is worth stating again, and again.

#7. Plan ahead. Look at the module planner. For M250, some of the Chapters are optional and not assessed in the TMAs or the exam. Skip if pushed for time. However, you will want to study them if you intend to go further with programming in your Open University degree. I would suggest coming back to them in the summer, after you sit the exam.

#8. For TT284, follow advice from tutors on a good IDE (integrated development environment) to edit your code. Visual Studio Code is popular with many of the tutors and well worth checking out. However, it does a lot of things and you may be more comfortable with a more basic editor, such as Notepad++, if you are just starting out with coding. Another popular IDE recommended by tutors (and fellow students) is Atom. In many ways, it is a matter of personal preference and what you feel comfortable with when editing html, CSS etc.

#9. Work in chunks of time. Do bits at a time rather than slogging away for hours on end. Find the time of day when you are most productive (if you have a choice when you can study). You will hear this advice from the Open University for almost any course but it particularly applies to modules with lots of programming.

The final, and most important, of the New Year’s Resolutions for TT284 and M250 is this:

#10. Take regular breaks. If stuck, stop. Do something else. Come back to the exercise or TMA question later. I have found diminishing rewards the longer I work on programming problems when I am not getting anywhere. Reward yourself with a break after you finish something. You probably deserve it.

Join the Conversation


  1. TM111 Nice intro
    TM112 good follow on from TM111
    TM129 Loved the robotics – bored by the networks – linux was so so
    MU123 I grew to love this module
    TT284 was interesting. The EMA is not to be underestimated !!!
    TM255 group work was fun once it got rolling
    TM257 enjoyed it as i like networking
    TM357 enjoyed it as i like networking
    TM256 just started so cannot comment but content looks great
    TM311 sucks big time – it is just no fun at all – i mean none – looking forward to it being over

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