Friday, March 9, 2012

Learning computer coding - an "update"

So, another week has gone by.
Another week of watching videos, 
answering quizzes to the videos, 
puzzling at why my codes don't work the way I thought they would, 
seeing the answer (possibility - I think that to some of the questions more than one solution is possible but only one best fitting to the lesson taught at that point is shown) after the quiz, 
going back to the quiz to correct my answer and finally 
getting a "You got it right!" button shown.
Only to go to the next video lesson and repeating it all over again. 
(For unit/week 2 it was "only"  about half of the amount of the first unit/week - but about as much information to digest)
And then, finally, daring to answer the homework questions.

And during the week also going over to the forum to the course 
to see how my fellow students are doing, 
what kind of difficulties they encounter or 
if it is only me that seems to have problems with the online python interpreter or the loading of the videos and such things. 
And being "oh so relieved" to see that I'm not alone with these kind of difficulties.

Yes, this kind of teaching and online course has it's problems. Not the method as such - visual (videos) teaching is well done with good examples. And a plus is the interactive quiz for most of the contents with additional "lesson" right after it.
But the amount of traffic, the amount of "students" being there at the same time is giving the server this course is on some BIG "hiccups". These make many of "us" having to spend more time waiting to see if our code, that we just wrote, is working or not.

So once again the deadline of the homework was pushed back for one more day - the teacher adding some hints to the most discussed questions of the homework. This shows that they too do read the forum to see what's going on, a plus! 
I went through my homework answers again - re-writing some of my code. Finally, this homework has been graded. The result? :( <-- not disappointed, but not expected THAT much "incorrect" this time as my codes worked for my testings.
I did not repeat the mistakes of the first unit - to rush through and not even listen to / read the questions properly. I worked harder and my codes worked. Just not for ALL cases that are possible. And that made the answer "wrong" right away.
So, I went through the video answers to see what was not correct - and, sure, now I understand. The hints did help a bit - but not enough. The main "problem" was that there is NO feedback on MY homework; no feedback on where I was wrong in coding. Only how it should have been done.

Now, I do understand that there are "thousands" of students at this course the same time. A personal feedback is sheer impossible. Also the server and/or online interpreter is having issues due to "overflow" of input it has to work through. reading through the forum to get some other feedback on why my answer was "incorrect" I had to notice to my digress that most of the problems my fellow students have is not the lessons as such but the work with the interpreter like me.

Now, unit/week 3 has started. This time it's many videos again - as much as in the first unit. Again tiny steps. But, with me wanting to understand what I did "wrong" in the first two units I go through them even slower. About half way through I have come to a "conclusion":

As much "fun" all this is and truly helps me to understand computers and their programs better I will have to downgrade (that is seen as good - a positive) myself from "student status" to just wacthing the videos and doing the quizzes and do some of the homework but fail at most of them due to my "normal" offline life getting into the way of my "online" life ;).
I found myself spending more and more time leafing through the forum trying to make sense of all the posts that either ask for help or give help than in actually watching the videos and learning and working with the Python interpreter.
I'm not saying goodbye or farewell at all. I'm only stating that I now know that this type of course is not made for me at the phase of life I'm in. Not that I feel too old or stupid to learn this. I just can't spend as much time on it as I would want and need to.
Three hours a week is not enough to watch the videos, understand what is being explained and answer the quizzes and do the homework (correct of course). I'm not stupid or slow in grasping new concepts. With enough time I can do this. And with a well working system for answering/writing and testing the codes - the biggest handicap for most of the students.

But, most of all, I just don't have the time anymore now from what I had planned for this when I had started.
Many in my work got sick and I have to work overtime now to help out there. To me that has more priority than finishing this course. And there are some other projects too that are waiting to be finished; projects that overall give me more personal satisfaction and pleasure than doing well (or be one of the best - my competitive side coming through again) in this course.
And, this time is "missing" for participating fully in this course now. As this course progresses it gets harder and harder (<--of course :P) and I would actually have to spend more time on each unit than less.

My "luck" is that this is hobby and not related to work. I do not have to excel at it at all. I can drop it any time without consequences. I have already learned so much from taking this course up to this point. 
No regrets at all. And repetition of the course is not rejected.

I feel like a winner after all. :D