While on my journey in self-teaching myself coding in the hopes of moving into the IT sector, I have tried a lot of routes to accomplish this goal.
I looked at nano-degrees such as the ones offered by Udacity, though was afraid if employers would actually recognize this certification. I looked at the possibility of completing a code camp, though trying to support a family and taking this route I would have no way of making an income.
It was then that I thought of the Open University. Obtaining an actual degree in Computing and IT that I could study part-time seemed like the perfect solution. In 2020 I decided to enroll and start studying towards this goal. I would try the first module TM111 – An Introduction to Computing and IT that I commenced in September 2020 and see what I felt with the course and the material it covered.
The module cost around £500 pounds and funding is available if you meet the requirements. I, unfortunately, did not as I already have a degree so had to put up the cost myself, though you can pay this monthly which spreads the hurt. You pay this over a 5 month period, so worked out around £103 a month for 5 months.
I received my pack at the start of September, a few weeks before the course began. You can see in the photo above the books where very professional looking. Might be hard to judge from the image though they were thick enough and covered a lot of material which I was very impressed by.
Once enrolled you will be assigned a tutor that you can book meetings with or ping an email across to support you in your journey. I never felt the need to do this as there are a lot of forums on the module website itself.
On these forums students in the same course can discuss material or issues with programs or concepts that they are having trouble understanding. The tasks at the start of the course was really just getting your familiar with the system, having you complete simple tasks like uploading a photo of your workstation/laptop that you were using to complete the module.
To pass the course you need to complete three tutor marked assessments (TMAs) and three interactive computer-marked assignments (ICMAs). You generally complete the ICMA first, which is a series of multiple-choice questions that are covered in the above books (known as blocks through the course). These are then followed a few weeks later which a TMA. The TMAs take longer to complete and more heavily weighted in the marking, counting more towards you actually passing the exam. You answer the questions on a text editor and save examples of your work in the software that you will be using during the module (OU build). You then compress these files down in a folder and upload to the Open University.
The course itself was well designed and put together. You start off by learning about the history of the first computers, the technology we use today, and how we interact in the digital world. You then move to ‘Creating Solutions’ in the second block which introduces you to OU Build where you will start using your first programming language Scratch.
Scratch is good to to get familiar with basics of programming, making simple loops and if else statements to get fundamentals down. You can make some really complex programs and games yourself with this software, and if you join a tutorial your tutor can also share a lot of examples.
Block three covers the internet, with wired and wireless systems, and the internet of things.
There are no entry requirements to the module and I felt fine being led through the course covered material without feeling lost along the way.
Overall I had a positive experience with the Open University and can see why many are signing up with them to complete their degree.
What has your experience been and would you recommend the OU or have another alternative for others starting their IT career?
As always, thanks for reading!