TM112 steps up the pace

computer code on a screen

Photo by Marcus Spiske on Unsplash

We’re in the sixth week of Lockdown, I’m almost a month into TM112 and coming to the end of MU123. I put to bed the fourth and final TMA for MU123 earlier this month, now just the big EMA (and one more iCMA) to go.

Well, TM112 is certainly a jump up from TM111. There’s more assumed knowledge but the module books do direct you back towards relevant content in the earlier module. Perhaps, there’s less explanation and a sense of ‘walking you through it’ than in TM111. I am aware that some people have struggled with this but, I guess, the benefit is that it does force you to think a bit more about things. Plus, your tutor and the forums are there to answer any questions but (and a big but!) questions on your TMA should only be directed towards your tutor.

The other big difference is that, whereas with TM111 you had three separate blocks and the programming block was bang smack in the middle, with TM112, there are three blocks as such, but the programming weeks are spaced through the module. I know some students have studied all the programming blocks in one go and then returned to the other blocks, which might have a heavier focus on maths or academic reading and writing. I prefer to take each week as they come. I like the variety and change in focus and the fact that the programming isn’t all done and dusted in one go. They’ve clearly designed the course so that you build up your skills as you go through the module, giving you a sense of continuing development.

The most obvious difference with the programming is that now we’re using Python, a text-based and widely used programming language, rather than OU Build, the Open University’s version of MIT’s Scratch. To be fair, my TM111 tutor did attempt to draw parallels between programming in OU Build and Python, pre-empting TM112. I introduced myself to Python last summer prior to the start of my degree. I found this helped me in TM112 and made me more comfortable picking it up again. I probably went a little beyond what I have done so far in the module, though it’s early days and I’m learning Python in bits and bobs, so to speak, rather than the more focused introduction I had last summer.

I would definitely recommend getting a taste of Python before you start the course, if only to see whether you would enjoy programming. For the TMAs, you’re only required to use the aspects of Python you’ve covered in the module books. Some of my fellow students have clearly gone beyond the module in terms of their coding but, if they use it in their TMAs, they have to explain and justify why they have done so. There are no extra marks at this stage of the degree for going beyond what’s in the module books.

I am going to end this post on a very happy note because I found out in the last couple of days that I passed TM111, my first Open University module. TM111 is a good introductory module, not only to a Computing and IT degree but for the Open University as a whole. Some may find it too easy; some find it hard, but it’s clearly designed to accommodate people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Most of all, it was extremely enjoyable.

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