I recently decided to take some Continuing Education Courses at SAIT, working to earn their .NET Development Certificate of Achievement. This is a set of five courses, each course runs twice a week for three hours a night for seven weeks each.
I had actually taken four out of five similiar courses back in 2004/2005 but never finished the last course. There were a few reasons for this. The first was financial, the company I was working at paid for the first three courses but then hit some financial difficulties and wouldn’t pay for the last two. I paid for the fourth course but wasn’t willing to cover the last one. The other problem was that when I had originally signed up for the courses, they were supposed to be In-Class courses, but they decided to make us the guinea pigs for the new On-Line courses that they were setting up at the time. Despite the fact that I actually did really well in the courses (A+ in all of them), I really found the on-line process to be quite frustrating. I didn’t have many problems with the difficult parts of the assignments, planning the programs and figuring out the logic, but I could get hung up for hours on something that would turn out to be a simple syntax issue. I’d have to spend half an hour describing the problem in an email and sending it off to the instructor, and then wait an indefinite amount of time for an answer, all for something that could have been answered in a minute or two in a classroom setting.
I also found that it was more challenging to set aside the time to work on the course at home. There were always multiple distractions and it was just too easy to put things off. I find having a set time where you are supposed to be in a classroom much better.
Looking back, I really should have found the money and spent the time to finish off that last course and get my certificate but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
Needless to say, this time I’ve opted for the In Class courses and not the On Line. I’m still having a bit of trouble putting aside some extra time to do some studying and extra projects, but overall it is going very well.
I’m really enjoying the courses and have realized that I’ve missing the learning process. In most parts of my life, particularly at work, I really haven’t had to stretch to learn anything new, things have basically been in maintainance mode and quite frankly that gets pretty dull after awhile.
I’m at the point in the courses now that I need to come up with some sort of project to work on, for the first course I did up a version of “Zombie Dice” from Steve Jackson Games, now I need to come up with something for this course. We haven’t started doing Database’s yet, so anything I do can only use more basic file types. Our final assignment class is next Wednesday, so I should come up with something soon, or at least get some practice coding done so I don’t get stuck on some simple piece for too long.
How the final project works is we go in for the last three hour class, we get a list of items that our project needs to contain, and a few suggestions on what sort of program we could write, and we have three hours to come up with it. It’s open book/open internet and you can prepare some stuff ahead of time if you want.