Saturday, May 12, 2007

First year review

When I started the course back in early September 2006 after being out of education for over a year I felt like I was stepping into the unknown and this was something that I was quite nervous about. There were several thoughts going through my mind from little things like will I be able to make any friends through to bigger things such as will I be as good as everybody else on the course. Looking back now though and comparing that with the whole feelings of the class as a whole I think that this was synonymous with the feelings of my peers too which helped to set me at ease a little bit.

One thing that I think really helped to gel everybody together was the introduction week where we undertook several different activities which helped to break the ice and get everybody talking to each other. We were also told from the first day just how demanding the course was going to be and what was expected of a student on the course. I felt that this was really beneficial because you knew exactly where you stood right away and I knew that if I were not to put in the required time and effort that I was never going to get anywhere in this course and consequently nowhere in the industry.

One major thing that I had to come to terms with on the course was the fact that sixteen hours self study needed to be done each week. I found this to be quite a struggle at first as I had just left employment where you can finish at the end of the day and then not have to worry about it when you get home. This also doubled with the fact that when I was at college previously I found it difficult to concentrate at home and never seemed to get anything done. One thing that I feel really helped me with this was the introduction of the weekly time plans, I felt that these really helped as It gave you more of a structured environment and you could then plan exactly what you had to do in any given session. I am now at the stage where I can set aside two full days each week to get this done which I feel is really beneficial as I have got into a routine now and it is starting to become second nature. I feel that if I were to start this course over again I would definitely try to use this method again.

The first assignment that we did was “A2 That’s the Plan”. I felt that this assignment really benefited me because even though it wasn’t as large as the ones we have done recently it helped to settle me into the course and get a feel for how deadlines are handled and work is marked. I think that this was always going to be difficult as it was the first assignment and I felt that once this was out of the way I would feel much more comfortable with the course and be able to start enjoying it a bit more. I gained a referral for this assignment which I was quite disappointed with at the time but I feel that this was a good experience as I knew what I had to improve on to pass the assignment.

The next two assignments that I was given were “A3 Back to Basic” and “A4 Picture This”. I was more confident going into these assignments as I now had the experience of completing the previous assignment and understanding a little better how everything works. I enjoyed both of these assignments as I felt that it allowed me to be a little bit more creative especially assignment A4. I felt quite confident handing these assignments in and I was aiming at achieving the higher level grades. I was delighted to see that I had achieved a merit grade for assignment A3 but this was tinged with disappointment when I found out that I had gained a referral grade for assignment A4. This was due to me making silly mistakes that I had made in the first assignment. The fact that I was making silly mistakes this far into the course was quite a worry for me and I decided that next time around I was going to strive to eliminate these and check my work much more thoroughly before handing anything in.

By this time it was quite apparent to me that the standard of the work was increasing each time but I felt that this was extremely beneficial as it meant that you had to push yourself that much harder. I feel that the only way to improve yourself is to put the time and effort in and this was something that I was determined to do.

The next assignments that were given out were “A5 Builder” and “A6 Revert to Type”. I felt that these were the most beneficial assignments that we had done so far as they involved skills that would be essential in the industry. Assignment A5 involved making the website that I had previously planned and A6 involved work being handed out spontaneously and having strict deadlines to get it finished. This is something that is common within the industry and having spoken to several previous students who have now gained employment this is exactly the environment that they are working in. I feel that by this time in the course I was being much more conscientious about the work that I was doing as I was determined to stamp out on the mistakes that I had made in the previous assignments. Because of this I was delighted to have achieved merit grades for both assignments and this was also quite a relief as I dint want to have to worry about working on referral work during the last big assignment of the year.

This assignment was “A7 The Fax of Life” and this was certainly the biggest assignment that we had done by quite a distance. This assignment though was not running alongside another which meant that I could concentrate solely on it which I found extremely useful. As this involved creating another website I was determined to improve on the one that I had done previously. I think that the course is constantly getting harder so I feel that you have always got to try and improve on the work that you have in the past done in order to better yourself. This will be much more apparent when the work goes up another notch for the second year but I feel that the nature of this assignment really helps to prepare you for that.

Looking ahead to next year I am determined to try and achieve the higher level grades and I am well aware that to do this I must improve the work that I produce. I feel that this will be quite a challenge but certainly one that I will relish. I am still aiming on doing a third year to complete the degree for this course whether that is at Thornes Park or at another university. I feel that this will not only improve my skills but will also allow me to have more time in creating an effective portfolio which I see as vital in gaining employment.

Goals for next year:
  • Pass assignments first time so that I do not have to worry about referral work interfering with other assignments
  • Building a site completely using CSS as this is a vital skill to have judging by the reports that we have had from previous students who are now in employment
  • To be able to time plan everything effectively so that I meet all of my deadlines
  • To create a portfolio site that contains all of the work that I have done on the course and externally if appropriate
  • Gain merit grades for 3 assignments. It may be difficult to achieve merit grades right away as the criteria will change making it harder to achieve these grades, hopefully though I will be able to achieve these later on in the second year.

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