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Student and tutor module reviews

My digital life

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: TU100
  • Level: 1
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Student reviews

As someone on the programming pathway of the full degree I was pretty disappointed with this module.

There is LOT of reading material, with only about 25% of that being relevant to the assignments. I made a very keen start but after the first TMA I was disheartened with the amount of studying I had put in and then not used on the assignment.

As a result I ended up getting through this module by just reading the bare minimum of what I needed for the TMAs and EMA. For anyone presuming I was just lazy and trying to scrape a 40% pass though I was able to drop the last TMA entirely because I had already passed the TMA part of the total marking.

For anyone reading reviews and wondering what Sense is, pop into any INFANTS school these days and you will find 7 year olds working with the very similar Scratch, which, as a student enrolled on the programming pathway, was a huge let down.

I do feel for the module team though, this is an introductory module for a very broad range of students so I understand and accept that they will never meet every students needs. In my opinion some serious work needs to be put in so that students enrolling on the computer science or programming pathways do not have this as a compulsory module, if anything it has distanced me from my end goal of a developer job, because it has taken up time which could have been much better used elsewhere.

Neil Taylor

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: November 2014

Faculty response

One aim of TU100 is to prepare all students for study at higher levels. Such is the diversity of our students that any introductory module to a degree programme must cover a lot of ground that may be familiar to some. However, even where the core subject is familiar or may seem simple to students, it serves a second purpose of building learning skills that will be invaluable later on.

Our assessment policy is designed to test these key skills using examples from the module texts as illustrations of how they can be applied. Students will be delighted to know that we don't expect them to remember each and every fact in the module; instead they need to be familiar with broad concepts and to use ideas from the texts to support their discussions and arguments.

The programming in TU100 is designed for novice learners. Our experience, developed over many years, and supported by the research literature; is that adult learmers experience many of the same difficulties as children when learning to program. We've found that using a similar approach to that in schools (some of which have adopted our teaching practices) produces the best results. Although the programming might look similar to that used by children we have ensured that it prepares students for studying programming at higher levels. In TU100, we take time to explore basic concepts of programming such as sequences, repetition and selection; as well as more complex concepts such as concurrent programming and message passing.

Really enjoyed this course. It was my first module towards my degree. There are times that I felt that it was out of context and there was more reading than what I expected. The part I really enjoyed was using Sense, it was really fun. I highly recommend this module. If you are thinking taking this module, go for it and good luck.

Monica Abreu

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: September 2014

Having studied Computing at AS level, I found the level of computing knowledge required for this course rather low, and it was very much a study skills course where you need to learn how to write notes, and to reference correctly.

The Sense program used in this module is unlike anything I have ever seen, you require no programming skill to use this, and as someone with the technical knowledge to program in VB, I found the logistics of Sense rather difficult.

This is a very basic module, far more so than I was expecting when enrolling.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: September 2014

A mix of technology and academic writing. The TMAs were ok to manage but I found that once you got used to one concept you were studying the complete opposite.

I would say this course wasn't worth 60 credits nor the cost but for a starter IT course and starter module for a degree it was ok.

The EMA was time consuming and sense was very annoying for a non programmer but overall it was an enjoyable module.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

I found the course itself quite easy, perhaps even a bit tedious.
I would describe it as 'The History of Computing' which is interesting at times, but with the evolution of computing and what it is today, I felt it was mainly all but applicable to what I was looking to learn.

If you have experience in computing, then the course should be a breeze for you and if you are looking to do any sort of programming as an absolute beginner, then Sense is a good foundation for what you will be dealing with. It just proves that with some hard work put into it, you can get some great results.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

This course covers a vast area of Digital technology and literally teaches you about all the computers components. Sense is used to teach you the basics of programming, which as a total beginner I found very useful, if at times frustrating, completely satisfying when you achieve the correct result. I would recommend this course to anyone that is curious about how IT works and if you have a great tutor like I had, it will be fun at the same time.

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: August 2014

I took this course as I wanted to challenge myself and develop a better understanding of the technological world.

I have an adequate knowledge of IT related matters - in the sense I can turn a computer on and use social media etc. The module description indicated I did not need specific IT related skills, just a good general idea so I thought this was the course for me.

Now I have survived to the end of the course I feel quite duped. I would certainly say you need more than just a grasp of IT to do this course and I really struggled both with the technical concepts and the mathematical skills needed.
This was very stressful and I was spending every evening and all weekend reading and making notes but still struggling to really understand what I was doing. That said, the tutor was fantastic and very encouraging.

The course felt quite dry, laborious and uninspiring and I do not feel I have a greater knowledge of digital life than what I did prior to the course. A lot of the material felt dated and tasks involving working online with others were at the mercy of other students being bothered to be involved.

I would suggest you need to be quite IT savvy and/or have a considerable interest in technology to undertake TU100. I am very lucky the points from this course count towards my free-choice option for my degree so I have not wasted 9 months but do regret selecting this course in the first place.

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: July 2014

Faculty response

Thanks for getting in touch and we're sorry you had some trouble with aspects of this module.

We tried very hard to make TU100's content suitable for all people, but a wide-ranging module such as TU100 which attracts people from all backgrounds and skill levels sometimes leaves some students needing additional support.

You can ask for help from your tutor who can give you more personal guidance to help solve your problems. I'm glad to see that your tutor was able to help you out. Many tutors will also run tutorials over the internet where you can not only work through parts of the module with fellow students, but also raise questions with your tutor. We ask our tutors to keep track of student progress and to help out if they think a student is falling behind. From this year onwards we have also introduced Student Support Teams who can provide further assistance to new students and those who might be struggling.

This module also has a large online student discussion forum where people can discuss issues regarding the module content and other aspects of technology. It's a good place to find out how other students feel about the module, the wider issues of technology and to ask questions about what you are studying. There are also dedicated forums for students who are having problems with some aspects of the materials, with the technology or need more assistance in getting started. We really recommend anyone who is having trouble with studying to get in touch with fellow students, many of whom can give useful guidance and support.

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and found it easier than the other OU level 1 course I had already studied. I received excellent comments from my tutor and the TMA's were evenly spaced.

I would highly recommend it.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: July 2014

Having not studied for over 25 years I was quite apprehensive and unsure of what to expect. However, this module is designed to address those apprehensions and does a great job in easing you into studying at university level. Be warned though, this module is fast paced and very unforgiving so you need to be disciplined and you need to set up a robust study regime.

My Digital Life is not all about computers and IT. The module inculcates many university values and policies including plagiarism, referencing and writing techniques. You also get to learn about writing reports, drawing argument maps and putting together media clips.

My Digital Life does a great job in covering many aspects of computing from the past to the present and covers topics such as social media, the internet, the use of data (personal or otherwise) and virtual worlds. You also get to do some programming using a neat little package called SENSE. If you are used to programming this should be straight forward.

Those with little or no programming experience will find SENSE very intuitive. I have some programming knowledge and was able to quickly work through the SENSE guide. You also get a little device called a SENSEBOARD which can be programmed to carry out and feedback some basic functions like temperature readings.

I found I was spending between 16 and 20 hours a week on studying My Digital Life. This did not include time spent on doing my TMAs (Tutor Marked Assignments). You are expected to continue studying and complete your TMAs at the same time and there are 5 TMAs and 1 EMA (End of Module Assignment). This can mean a very heavy work load.

For those working and studying, I personally booked a total of two days off work, one for TMA03 and one for my EMA. Remember though, I had not studied for over 25 years and might not be typical.

Looking back, I found the module fun and informative. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction and has provided me with the necessary skills to undertake my next module. The Open University is a fantastic way to learn new skills or to gain a qualification and this module really underpins what it means to study through the OU.

Andrew Murdoch

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: November 2013

I took this module as I had an interest in learning about how technology is used in today's world and from the module description, I thought that we'd be looking in more detail about eCommerce, Social Networking and the impacts they have on every day people but a great chunk of this course was taken up by programming and calculations.

The TMAs seemed to feature some of the most boring and uninspiring questions imaginable and as with the whole of this module, calculations and programming made up a big chunk of this, making it a struggle for anyone who does not pick up these skills easily.

I was extremely disappointed with this course and was glad when it was over.

Course starting: September 2013

Review posted: October 2013

I lived TU100 for the length of the course, dipping in two or three times a day reading and re-reading. There is an amazing amount of information but I think it is well presented and easy to follow.

Throughout the course you are walked through all the modules with your hand held and there is help from lots of places including the forums and your own tutor.

I have already had some knowledge of programming but was amazed by sense THIS IS BRILLIANT! Whoever thought of this way to teach programming needs promoting.

I would recomend this module to any one. It is well written and presented a lot of knowlege yes, but well worth every bit of time spent on it.

Paul Lawrence

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: September 2013

I should preface this review by saying that I am an IT professional, holding several industry certifications, with more than ten years of experience in my field.

I thoroughly enjoyed studying TU100. I chose it for several reasons, not least of which is that I wanted a soft start to studies, which is exactly what I found in this module. The module gives its students a fairly quick overview of the history of computing, going on to introduce basic concepts within software development in object oriented code.

The module also discusses the social implications of emerging technologies, and spends time talking about security and encryption. Finally, the module talked about database theory, making it come alive for me in unexpected ways.

My tutor was active and responded to enquiries very quickly, oftenmost within the same day.

I would recommend this course for novices as well as seasoned IT pros, though the latter group would have an easier time of it than the former.

Aleksander Razumny Nordgarden Rodner

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: September 2013

The one and only good moment of this course was when it was over!

I was seduced by the course description which talks at length about how we were going to learn about the social aspects of where the digital world was headed and how we got to this stage in its development.

The course materials arrived and included a DVD of an interesting BBC Series regarding the birth and growth of the internet. I watched this prior to the course starting and was very encouraged. However this was never once referred to over the length of the course. Why bother to include it?

To my surprise and huge disappointment 98% of the course is taken up with quite complex mathematics and programming / coding. The TMAs started ridiculously easy and frankly dull, with the questions concerning how to spot plagiarism... "My Digital Life?"

They then ramped up to become almost indecipherable culminating in the final EMA which was very poorly constructed. I have since shown it to a friend who works in IT who couldn't work out what the SENSE question was even asking!

The tutorials were conducted by two tutors who had combined their tutor groups. They were purely interested in programming and mathematics. When I was asked for my reasons for taking the course they laughed and said that I could read the course materials for any discussion of the social aspects of computing. They certainly wouldn't be covering these. Our tutorials were initially well attended but soon dwindled to just 2 or 3 students.

If you want to spend six months learning about Argument Maps, Report writing and computer based mathematics then possibly this is for you. If not steer well clear... It was my third OU module and I genuinely feel ripped off!

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Faculty response

Thanks for the comments. There's 10-15% programming in the module and very little maths - definitely not 98%! Blocks 3-5 cover a lot of social issues (privacy, surveillance, encryption, DRM, etc.), and is where specific sections of the DVD are used to reinforce the teaching. That material is relevant to recent events such as the NSA PRISM programme, and the argument mapping helps to express and work through the complex issues involved.

Sorry you were disappointed in the module - anyone interested in seeing some of the teaching materials can check the sample on OpenLearn.

I am working towards The Open Degree and after starting with Spanish I wanted to try a computing course as I thought this would be interesting and would add 60 credits towards my degree.

I found this course to skim over many different subjects, some very interesting and some not so. I personally found that this course moved very fast and I didn't always have time to absorb the information before moving onto the next subject!

I did struggle with the programming but attending the face-to-face tutorials really helped.

My fellow students seemed to be really enjoying this course and I think it just wasn't for me.

I was very pleased to finish this course and also pass it.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This appears to be a really good course for the one who is a complete novice in the field of IT and would like to explore and learn about the basics and foundational studies of the IT world.

I found the information contained in the course very interesting, however as I am studying this degree for a specific purpose (to gain programming and graphical design skills)and I am already a little experienced in basic IT, I found that this course became tedious as time progressed. I found myself doing the bare minimum to pass this course rather than trying to achieve high marks with each assignment submission.

If I had the choice, I would have happily omitted this course but as it is a compulsory part of all IT degrees I completed it on time and got the pass I needed to move on.

Lewis James-Odwin

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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