Hello to anybody reading this website. My guess is that you’re either a university instructor or a fellow student for UVIC EDCI 335 during the Spring 2019 semester.
My name is Alex Deweert. I am a University of Victoria student currently finishing the last semester of a Computer Science Undergraduate degree (BSc) and this course is an optional elective. I chose it because the description seemed interesting and potentially useful for future teaching or learning endeavours.
My interests are in Web Development, Game Development, and just general computer programming and technology. My skills are very broad but include knowledge and proficiency in many programming languages.
I am a mature student (36 years old at the time of this post) who changed career paths four years ago in order to pursue this degree. It has been a long and challenging experience, but I am quite happy to have made the decision to be here.
I look forward to reading some of the other students posts, and to diving into the course material for this semester. I can be contacted via any of the social media links at the top of the home page of this blog.
One of my favourite learning experiences
Before I went to UVIC, I was deeply rooted in a career that I didn’t like. In fact, I hated it, but I was tied to a mortgage, car payments, and various other responsibilities; I was firmly trapped by a pair of “golden handcuffs”.
A byproduct of my unhappiness was to seek external learning opportunities for a topic that had always interested me, but that I had never pursued. I enrolled into part time studies at BCIT in Vancouver. Once a week after work, I would go to the Burnaby or Downtown Vancouver campus in order to learn topics in Computer Science in a 3 hour lecture.
I remember my very first class was Introduction to Programming. This was a course where I learned very basic Java programming syntax. I remember being a 29 year old worker drone trapped in a soul crushing career, quite disenchanted with my life until that point. However, that very first class learning something that I was truly interested in sparked an intense feeling of curiosity and magic. When I review some of my early assignments from that time period, the tasks were trivial, but when I re-experience those moments in my memory I am overwhelmed with feelings of nostalgia.
My first class at BCIT was done at 7 pm once a week, and I would trudge into the classroom tired from a job I hated but couldn’t get out of. Once I sat down and started to listen to the lecture following along with example code from an overhead projector, my energy was renewed. I felt the weight of my other life lifted from my shoulders and I began to feel optimism and excitement for the possibilities.
In retrospect, I was drawn to a specific kind of learning that I don’t really have a name for. Essentially, you see an example of a programming tool, working through the example slowly with an instructor, and then waiting for a task after the lesson. You’re not told how to complete the task, but you now know the tool that you were exposed to not 10 minutes earlier. Programming can be a painstaking process on large projects, but even on large projects, small pieces of code can be run and tested. These small pieces of code will either succeed or fail, but they occur in rapid succession. It is possible to experience instant gratification in ones work while programming. It’s like building a giant Lego castle out of a bunch of smaller Lego modules that themselves are assembled from individual Lego components. Large problems can be broken down into sub-problems, and sub-problems can be broken down into sub-sub-problems and so on. We refer to this method of problem solving as divide and conquer.
In summary, one of my favourite learning experiences was based on a combination of learning something brand new for the first time that involved problem solving, creativity, and a feeling of magic and nostalgia all wrapped into one.