black journal

2015-16 Term 3 Week 1: Learning Journal – UoPeople

Awesome, 1 week down already. 8 more, and I’ll have finished an entire year at University of the People – feels great to have made it this far already! The 1st week of Software Engineering started out a little rough, but I think I’m back into the swing of things now. Today I share a bit of insight into what I’m learning this term’s course.

Jan 28/16:

Today I got started by creating a course outline for myself to follow. This helps me figure out which weeks are going to be heavier than others. I also responded in the course forum, and wrote down my task list as well as the learning objectives for this unit.

It was sort of a waste for me on productivity, because I couldn’t get access to the reading materials. The main book/slide works fine, but the second link wasn’t working for me. The PDF would not load no matter what browser I tried. Eventually, somehow, the download button worked in Firefox, so I was able to get the PDF’s of the two modules for this unit.

The other link brought me to a page I didn’t understand. It wasn’t clear what I was supposed to do, and it took a while for me to find the “preview” mode of the text book. I’m not sure if there is supposed to be a way to download the book or not, but I tried and it didn’t work at all. This is unfortunate because I heavily rely on downloading materials, so that I can do work when I don’t have internet access.

So that’s really it for today. I didn’t accomplish anything other than finding my reading materials. Hopefully I can get back on tonight and do more work.

Feb 1/16:

Over the weekend I managed to complete all of my reading assignments, and the discussion post. Today I started rating in the forum, and turning some of my notes into deliverable content for my written assignment.

After reading everything, I feel pretty excited about this course. A big challenge for me is figuring out how to develop real projects of my own. I have a hard time planning out all of the different pieces in my applications, without writing any code. I have many incomplete projects where I have coded myself into a corner, and then it just stays in an experimental state. I feel I am a relatively strong programmer, with a wide range of knowledge, and skills, but I’m lacking the ability to apply real development process and work cycles.

I hope this course helps me fill in some of these gaps in my knowledge, and I hope I plan to seek opportunities at work to apply what I learn in this course.

Feb 3/16:

Completely forgot to write in the LJ yesterday! Made progress with the written assignment. Everything is basically done, I just have to finish writing the last section, and proof read. I’ll jump back in here when I’m done, and then try to come up with something to reflect on.

And we’re done! I’ll probably go over it again tonight before the deadline closes, but I’m pretty confident I did a good job. On to reflection.

Well, I’ve already described what I did, and my reactions to what I did this unit, so how about we start with any feedback I’ve received. The first feedback I got was from the instructor, and right out of the gate too. I feel like this term is going to be another great term with another active, quality instructor. It always makes the learning experience better when the course is properly guided, and you can reach out for help and actually get the answers you’re looking for.

The feedback in the discussion forums this week haven’t been as good as in the past. That’s not to say it’s bad but normally in my experience, there is more back and forth conversation going on. This could just be because everyone is busier than they normally are, or maybe getting back into the regular routine of school – it is the first week after all!

To touch on something that was particularly challenging for me, it was getting back into using APA 6 in my paper. I’ve used it occasionally in my previous courses, but it’s been 3 terms since I’ve used it extensively. It made this first written assignment take me longer than I had planned, because I was looking up APA standards constantly, trying to make sure everything was perfect.

There are web apps out there that do the formatting for you, but I feel like I’m cheating myself by using those tools. I’d rather just take the time to learn it my own way, and be proficient enough at citing and referencing my own resources that I don’t need an app to do it for me.

So what did I learn? A higher level understanding of what software engineering is, what the point of it is, and why it came about in the first place. One major point, that I think I sort of knew intuitively but would not have explained it this way before, is that there is a fundamental difference between a program and a software product – at least from a software engineers perspective.

A program is really just anything that fits the typical definition; a set of instructions the computer can understand, which is fairly vague. More concretely, in software engineering a program can be thought of something that will not be used by a consumer. It either has an archaic interface only programmers would understand, or it’s a component working like a cog in a bigger machine; the software.

Software is what most consumers think of as applications or “apps” in today’s world. It’s more than just a set of instructions the computer can understand. It’s designed with ease of use in mind for the average consumer, it’s documented, and supported. Software usually included installation and set up instructions as well as tutorials, community forums and even guidelines. A software product is the summation of many programs, specifications, UI, UX, documents, and many other aspects that happen behind the scenes like customer support, public relations, marketing, and sales.

So, that’s it for this LJ. I look forward to everything this course has to offer. I really feel like a lot of lose ends are going to be tied together by the end of it, and hope to come out the other side, a better developer.

Cheers,

Dan

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