Student Opinion

I have mentioned before my desire to help create a course at the University which focuses on iOS Application Development as well as a few other courses. This week I received confirmation that the iOS Application Development course will be taught in the semester from September to December later this year…this makes me very excited. Before I received confirmation, I have been asking students for their opinions about courses and service at the University and unfortunately the responses have been more negative than positive. One of the main complaints with the programming courses is that there isn’t enough actual programming done in the classroom. As a result, every class I lecture focuses mainly on practical work. The theory is touched on as an introduction but I rely on the students to do additional reading after the concept is grasped from the practical work done in class. This is more so with the Design Patterns Course I developed for the Bachelor’s programme this semester. Yesterday I spoke with the second Design Patterns class about the iOS Application Development course and I asked for their opinions. Most of them were not pleased with the way the Android course was delivered so it was important that I find out what exactly disappointed them to ensure they feel contented after completing the iOS Application Development course. This conversation with the students left me with a lot more information than I expected. It reminded me of my time studying and how I saw so many changes that could have been made to the degree programs I did to help improve the service the students received. I will continue to ask for students’ opinion while developing the course over the next few months and also try to find out what other courses they would like to see as part of the Degree Programme. I am now able to create the change I wanted to see many years ago, so it’s important that I do as much as I can to improve the learning experience of the students while I’m lecturing at the University.


Going after what you want

I’ve been at the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago (NIBTT) since May of this year and the project I’m currently working on, is not one I’m passionate about but I come to work and do what I can. Yesterday I made a phone call to June Marcano, Project Analyst who works directly with the Executive Manager for Information Technology at NIBTT. I enquired about the possibility of NIBTT producing mobile applications as my passion is mobile application development. Sometimes in life we’re placed in situations that may not suit us perfectly and it may be easy to walk away but I know I’m here at this organisation for a purpose and I need to figure that out. I know the current position I hold is not for me, so I need to exhaust all my options and see how best I can add value to the organisation before I make the final decision to leave. I should have a conversation with the Executive Manager before the end of the week to discuss the possibility of such a project and I hope it’s a venture the company is ready and willing to embark upon and one that I can contribute significantly towards.

A weekend of work

The title of this post should speak for itself. I spent the weekend working at my office at the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago (NIBTT). I decided to start working at the office on weekends to aid in improving my zeal towards my work at NIBTT. On Saturday I focused on a sample Java Project implementing log4j2 for one of my co-workers and some text field validation using Dojo. I previously did this log4j2 project but for some strange reason I was unable to locate it on my machine. On Sunday I worked on preparing for my classes this week at the University. I completed and uploaded the online exam for my students on the Software Development Life Cycle using the classmarker online exam site and I also worked on the powerpoint presentation for the class scheduled after the exam. This week in my C++ class, I’ll be focusing on introducing the students to how C++ programs are created and executed in a C++ environment. I’ll be explaining concepts such as preprocessing, compiling, linking, loading and execution. While I understand that most of the students would prefer to jump straight into coding, I think this is a fundamental aspect of programming that should be covered. It’s an area that was overlooked when I first started coding with Pascal many, many years ago lol. For my Java class this week, I’ll be finishing the Observer Design Pattern. I gave the students some code for a Lab to complete and this week I will go through all the code in the various classes explaining how the outcome is achieved. There will only be one Java class this week as my country will be celebrating the Divali holiday on Thursday, so it’s important that I utilise the 3 hours for this class as best as possible to stay on time with my teaching schedule.

FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Success

Focus is the word of the week for me. I listen to Entrepreneur On Fire or Quotes on Fire Podcasts with John Lee Dumas almost every day. In most of the podcasts, he gives his meaning of the word FOCUS, which is Follow One Course Until Success and I quite like this explanation. For now, I’ve had to shift my focus from securing an iOS Developer role in the UK to my ill mother. I was placed in this exact situation in May of this year and now five months later I’m in the same predicament. I’ll be slowing down the job applications for a bit but I’ll continue to write blog posts about my other work and develop this blog in the way I visual it to be within a year from now. I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason and it only lasts for a season, so it’s up to me to read the signs and figure out what I’m not doing that I should be doing and vice versa as well as what changes in my life need to be made, if any. For now I’ll focus on family and my work here in Trinidad. I’ll also seek out work as an iOS Developer working remotely for companies in the UK from Trinidad for the time being, it’s the best compromise I can think of at the moment.

Learning & Testing

This week is mid-terms at the University and I would be testing my Java and C++ classes. I’m excited to see how these students perform in the examinations as this is not only a test of how well they understand the work but also a test of how well I perform as an instructor. I try to teach in such a way that I incorporate a little of the three main learning styles. For those auditory learners, I explain the concepts in class usually following from a powerpoint presentation, for the visual learners I will use examples on the board as well as in the handouts and for the kinesthetic leaners I will give exercises in class as well as practice exercises at home. I also refer the students to videos on Youtube and Udemy so they can look at the concepts before class and review them after class to reinforce what was learnt. I hope my approach works and they are understanding what is being taught. I guess by next week I’ll know if my approach is working and where I may need to make improvements.

Multilingual Programmer

For the most part of this year I’ve been working with Objective-C creating apps for iOS devices. However, my recent role as an Analyst Programmer reacquainted me with Java, HTML, CSS and JavaScript while my lecturing duties at the University involves working mainly with Java and C++. I still work with Objective-C on weekends or sometimes after work in the evenings. This is the first time I’ve ever juggled so many languages at one time and it’s quite an eye opener. I’ve noticed more similarities and differences among the languages than I ever did before. For instance, Objective-C Protocols basically provide the same functionality as that of Java Interfaces, Objective-C uses ARC (previously MRC) and Java uses Garbage collections, Objective-C is generally dynamically typed whereas Java is generally statically typed, Objective-C is based on C and Java is based on C++ and so on. While I don’t currently use other languages I learned in University such as Pascal, ML, PHP, Prolog, ASP.NET as well as Oracle Databases, I think the knowledge has been quite beneficial in my way of thinking as a programmer. I’m not trying to be Jack-of-all-trades here as I know specialisation is key to productivity and I prefer to work with Objective-C and Java and eventually Swift, but it’s really good to have a foundational understanding of other languages. I even tried dabbling with Ruby on Rails a few months ago. I intend to focus on becoming more proficient with Objective-C and Java over the next couple of months and eventually move on to Swift as needed.

Interview Issues

Today I scheduled an online interview for 4AM (Trinidad & Tobago time). The interview was first rescheduled by me due to an unbelievable headache from my new specs and last week it was again postponed as the company was moving to a new office and encountered some issues with the Internet. Today I’m not sure what happened but I’ll make contact with the company later today to find out what took place. These things happen and when they do I immediately try to see the positive. Firstly, it allowed me to leave home at 5AM today to get my morning workout at the gym before heading to the office, otherwise I would have probably left home at 5:15AM/5:30AM. Secondly, it gives me more time to prepare. I must admit that my schedule has been pretty crazy for the past couple of weeks with everything that’s going on and I welcome any additional time for reviewing Objective-C & Swift Concepts. While I’ll be busy this weekend with the Dragon Boat Regatta here in Trinidad, competing with my team “The Vikings” on Saturday and Sunday, I’ll focus on interview preparation from next week Monday.