Linking Education and Life – 5 Real Skills from EHU Computing


With the summer coming to a close, and a week before I move back to Ormskirk, I thought it might be a good idea to share 5 skills that my first year in computing have taught me. Before coming to university I had run m9Networks for about 4 years. I have always had an interest in computing, all aspects of it. Finally starting a specialised course really gave me some skills that I had been overlooking and EHU have influenced my professional career even before graduating. So here are 5 skills that 1st year computing at EHU have taught me and how I used them this summer.


Organization

In my first year of computing, and university in general, I was exposed to a need for organization. I have always been a mixed bag when it came to being well prepared. I have two modes, 100% ready for anything and absolutely nothing done. For the most part I would be the latter. University gave me a chance to really explore my organizational style and see how it makes life easier for me. This summer while working I was able to use this when working on projects with deadlines.


Determination

Something I pride my work on is my determination to get the job done. If I don’t know the answer to a question I will go out of my way to find the answer. Once again, starting university has helped me improve this skill massively. While working at one client site this summer I faced several serious problems that resulted in setbacks. The determination that I had gained while doing reports and attempting to understand more complex coursework in first year gave me the confidence to push through and surpass these problems that came in my way.


Planning and Drafting

One of my modules in my first year of computing was Digital World: Information Systems and Design. The code for this course if you want to check it out is CIS1108. This course focused around designing and implementing IT systems for businesses and customers. One of our tasks included designing a database and network system for a local business. During the summer I was tasked with something similar and was able to almost replay the design process piece for piece.


Networking

Networking is one of my main fields of interest and study. This summer I was involved in some large networking projects with several ISP’s in Ireland that I had previously been involved with. My first year module named Computer Architecture and Networks gave me some valuable information regarding standards and implementation of networks. While some of the information presented to me in this course was not new it does mean that other students who have not experienced networking before we’re covered. So if you’re worried about it being too complicated, don’t.


Security

Finally, the last skill that I was able to take away from University and apply it to my work in the real world this summer was Security. Being security conscious in the every more connected world is important. Very important. In my first year I was taught about basic security and how it relates to threats in the real world. While it is easy to understand and implement very secure passwords, encryptions and physical security the basics are often overlooked. In one of my installs this summer I thought back to my lectures regarding security and included a pamphlet regarding social engineering to the client.


These five skills; Organization, Determination, Planning and Design, Networking and Security that I learned in my first year and I can honestly say they have been a great help.

If you want to check out some of my work you can read about a UniFi network install at a large home in Donegal, Ireland here:

https://community.ubnt.com/t5/UniFi-Stories/UniFi-and-FTTH-Rethinking-LAN-s-in-Ireland/cns-p/2473683

And if you want more free and great information on any topic email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

A Biology Dissertation Proposal

One of the compulsory modules in third year on any biological sciences undergraduate degree is the dissertation. This module is worth twice the amount of a single third-year module – and with third-year being weighed more than second, this amounts to a hefty percentage overall!

Perhaps some books from the new library in The Catalyst will help with your references!

The first part of the dissertation that is currently due in late June is the proposal. Worth 15% of the overall dissertation grade, this piece of work is focused on designing a scientific project that suitably addresses an identified knowledge gap within a field, whether it be ecology, human biology, or microbiology. The proposal for the biology dissertations is very similar to the proposal made for the research projects in the second year module Research Methods.

Part A of the proposal is an overview including context – does this project build on previous works; why is it important; how does it fit into our current understanding? Included in this section must be the project aims and a list of references used in Part A. It’s very similar to an introduction of a scientific paper, which starts out broad then narrows its focus until it is focused on a concise issue.

The Gantt chart I used in my second-year Research Methods proposal

The following part of the dissertation proposal, Part B, is all about the implementation of the project. This includes a clear indication of the research questions being asked; the methodology; timescale; and data analysis. Things to think about for the methodology include the basic experimental design – what kind of sampling and measurements are being taken, how many replicates, etc – sampling strategy, and sites. The timescale is an obvious one, but it might be an idea to include a Gantt chart to illustrate this clearly. Data analysis and management cover the statistical tests that will feature in the project and the tables used to record the data. This section should also feature difficulties that might be faced along the way, for example, the problems I think I might face are identifying sampling sites with my target organism and learning new programs related to genetic analysis.

 

The final parts, D and E, are all about health, safety, and ethics. As well as completing these parts in the proposal, it’s vital that the separate ethics form is filled in to be assessed by the Biology Department Research Ethics Committee (BDREC)! Other additional forms that need to be attached to the proposal are, for example, an equipment list, lone working, and risk assessment.

There are a fair few documents that need submitting, but they’re all important and make sure you’re ready to really begin work on this big project. You need to be prepared for a module that makes up a third of your final year grade after all!

Edge Hill University Exams – Checking 6+5 on a calculator just to be sure

Edge Hill Exams and Thoughts

Edge Hill Exams and Thoughts


Last Friday (12th of May 2018) I had the first and last of my exams for my year at University. I thought, even though its going to be far off for all you first years starting in September, it would be a good idea to share some facts and thoughts of mine regarding the exams.

The exam I undertook was for Computing and the 40 question multiple choice exam was underwhelming for me coming straight out of the Irish Education system where my entire grade was based on a set of written exams over one week, but the examination conditions themselves were still very daunting. So without rambling on here are they things that I.


The exam setup was straight forward. We were given a time and a place. Wilson Gym at 14:30. Turning up 10 minutes before was a good idea, and most of the other students had the same idea. We were given our seat numbers by means of a list suck to the wall outside the gym hall itself. Everybody was a bit nervous. It was our first exam of the year and for most the first exam we have ever taken at university.

 


The RulesFinally settled in and in our seats it was time to hear from our exam invigilators the rules of the exam. This helped, again many of us sitting our first university exam had us stressed. The rules were basic.

  • No phones or electronics
  • No talking or discussion
  • Stay for the first 30 mins
  • Stay for the last 30 mins
  • Jackets and bags at the back
  • Uni card on the desk

Simple as that really.


The examAnd finally the exam itself came around. We started slightly late but we were given access to a clock clearly displayed in the hall so keep track of our own time and ensure we managed it correctly.

My exam consisted of 40 multiple choice questions. We were given the exam sheet and a separate answer booklet to mark our answers into. The university also uses an anonymous marking system so our names were covered up when we finished.


All and all the exam went well. It was slightly stressful trying to study the material we were given for it and I recommend reading these blogs if you are worried about stress at University:

Dealing with Stress at University – Stress is like the flu, everyone usually gets it

Exam time- how to have a stress free exam period

But we all made it through and finished our exams in good time but here are a few tips I can give you to make you look like an exam pro:

  • Read the booklet and exam carefully. Fill out everything
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if there is a problem
  • Get more paper if you need it. It’s free!
  • Bring your Uni card! Otherwise you will have to wait for the exam to be completely finished to be identified by someone from the academic registry.
  • Breath and chill out. The real exam is life.


That’s all from me, but if you want to find out more about EHU exams, how they are run and even corrected you can check out this link for more info!

And if you want more free and great information email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

Your Big Step to University

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. I have just had reading week so have been back in Manchester visiting my family. Now that I’m back at uni, it’s back to work!

When we grow up we are always told how important the next step is – primary school, high school, GCSE’s, A-levels…and now University. So I hope I can take the pressure off a bit and help you with any worries you may have!

How will your university course be different to college/sixth form?

For most courses, your lecture and seminar hours will be a lot less than you had at A-level. Some course have as little as 4 hours a week, whilst other courses like mine (Primary Education) can have up to 18 hours a week. No matter the amount of time you have timetabled, it is about what you personally get out of it. Unlike A-level when you depend on your teachers a lot, university allows you to have more freedom and initiated learning during your own time.

How formal is university?

Personally, I found my sixth form to be a lot more formal than university life. At Edge Hill, I feel I can talk to the tutors on a more personal level, rather than referring to teachers’ second names like I have done throughout school!

How many exams will you have?

The number of exams you will have depends on your course, but I suggest finding this information out as it will help you feel prepared. The university decides what is included in your modules which makes all lesson content useful. I found that A-levels were mostly centred around remembering the specific mark schemes for your exams. However, at university I believe you are taught real-life skills and necessary information that will provide you with a foundation for your next step (which may be your chosen career).

If you have any more questions like these, feel free to comment below! Thank you for reading, looking forward to speaking soon!

Anna 🙂

 

 

 

Sean’s Random Encounters – Edge Hill Applicant Day and the Catalyst building

Seans Random Encounters Text


So, on the way back from a driving lesson I wandered into an Applicant Visit Day that was taking place in the Hub, central to the university campus. Among the many stands that were providing information to students like yourself was Kerry from Student Services hosting a stall with information about the new building that is set to be unveiled on campus later this year.

The catalyst is a new and exciting central building is a £26 million pound investment in all our educations. I spoke to Kerry about what this building would become and how it would be used by the average student who steps inside.


 

This video gives an overview of exactly what this 8000 square meter project will look like. Located just to the central east of the campus it is a stones throw from the hub and much of the main on site accommodation. This is useful, as it houses the brand new library. If you are like me and enjoy late nights you will be able to head over and get that book about vintage computers, photography or just a good read in general.


” Modern, Central and Connected “

– Kerry, Edge Hill University

I asked Kerry if she could describe exactly what the new Catalyst would mean to her. She said it was ‘Modern, Central and Connected’. She went on to mention how it would ‘take the existing student services and unify them together, in one central place.’


So all these buzz words sound good, and we have lots of numbers like 8000 square meters and 26 million pounds, but what exactly is the Catalyst and why should you be excited to be the first year of students to use it?

The Catalyst is the new home for the university library, student services, help desks and most teams who will help you in everyday life. It is going to be a one stop shop for you to discuss anything that you need help with. It is the new central point for everything Edge Hill.

So that’s it, get excited folks because the Catalyst is going to change everything.


If you want to find out more about the new Catalyst building you can find information here, or if you want to find out more about applicant days check out here.

And if you want more free and great advice email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!


 

Preparing for continuous assessment at Edge Hill – You won’t have to cram the night before!


If you are a student of an education system that relies on exams for assessment you may have never even come across the term ‘Continuous Assessment’. This method of assessment is commonly used in courses throughout Edge Hill University so it is a good idea to get to know what it is and practice before you start under this type of education.


Continuous Assessment is the practice of giving you a grade based on your coursework that is submitted over the length of your course. For example you may be given an assignment every week for two months, each representing a certain percentage of your final grade. This means that you are already stacking up points towards your grade as soon as you submit work. Meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering everything at once on one particular day. If you are already prepared for this type of assessment you will slip right into the swing of things. However if you, like me, are from an education background where everything is based on exams it might take some time to adjust.


Clock with time on notepadTime management is a very important aspect of this method of study. If you don’t manage your time correctly you will miss deadlines. Unlike missing your homework, missing your deadline for coursework results in your grade being affected. You have to manage your time well in order to maximize your grade.


Notes on a4 paperKeeping notes simple and brief is also important. Unlike taking notes for something that you will not review for weeks, months or even years, continuous assessment is set on a much shorter time range. Your notes should be short but clear so that you get everything down and quickly refer to them later. Your brain will do most of the work remembering.


Concept lifestyle image of balance.Balance is possibly the most important. You need to make time and put the same amount of effort into all your coursework. You will like some more than others, and as such its easy to dismiss pieces you don’t want to complete. Work hard at it and keep your head down. Remember, it is your grade at stake.

 


Follow these steps and try to practice these skills in your every day life. A good example is taking homework as serious as your exams for a week or two to get used to putting your best into something on a weekly basis.

While not all courses at Edge Hill are fully coursework based most have elements of continuous assessment. Remember to prepare for any exams you might have also.

If you want more free and great advice email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

Third Year Film and Television Production: First Semester Summary!

So here I am again, back talking to you about my modules. Today’s post is all about my first semester of my third year in Film and Television Production!

Currently, I’m in my last semester ever on uni which is very weird, but also exciting at the same time! So quite a bit has changed over this last semester, and I’ve learnt so much about university life which I can’t wait to share with you over the next couple of months! Anyway, as I did before in my first and second-year semester posts, I will be going through the modules, giving my opinion on each one, enjoy!
(Disclaimer: modules on this course are always changing so might be different or non-existent by the time you’re reading this blog post.)


Independent Film Production (Compulsory)
Short version: Great module, however, it’s a lot of work!

Independent Film Production enables you to work independently to produce a film of a professional standard. The Independent film genre gives students the experience of working within industry guidelines, producing a digital and HD film within the confines of a limited budget, with a larger production team and within a restricted timescale.”

Behind the scenes.

Long version: As the quote suggests, film production is all about creating a 10 to 15-minute short film. The module is marked in two parts: a production folder with trailer and the film itself. The folder is full of all your paperwork that you have completed while creating the film and includes important pieces of paperwork such as release forms and location scouting. This folder is submitted with a short trailer for your film and is worth 30% of your overall mark, as the film makes up the rest.

The pros of this module are: by the end of the process you have a finished product which you can add to your showreel, you learn a lot of new skills on set, working with new people can be fun and engaging as ideas of how to make the film can be formed over casual conversations, you can be as creative as you want as you’re writing the script, and it’s another chance to explore the technical role you’re most interested in, whether that be editing, writing or directing!  

However, this module does have cons, one of which is that it’s based on group work and some people in your group may not pull their own weight (an issue I found occurring within my own production) and unfortunately there is no way for you to change that as you can’t force people to work when they do not want to. Additionally, I personally did not find the lectures useful for myself, as I would have prefered to be filming instead of sitting through a lecture about making a film. Finally, it can be a bit of a juggling act with other modules as you have to work on all of them at once, and it’s sometimes hard to find the time to do that. Overall though, this module has taught me a lot about teamwork and what roles I enjoy doing in productions. Because of this production, I realised that I really enjoy directing, which I didn’t know beforehand, which has now led to me being the director of my TV show I am currently creating, so overall it worked out!  


Media Futures: (Optional)
Short version: I didn’t really like this module.

Media Futures involves the study of contemporary media practices, the impact of technology on creative industries, developments in global and local media, and changing paradigms of media production and audience consumption. You will develop a critical awareness of a number of key themes including social experience and shaping of media forms, access, participation and engagement, and the relationship between public and private spheres. By considering these themes through a range of different theories and research, you will discover a variety of approaches to gaining understanding of what is a rapidly expanding frontier of creative and cultural practice and media knowledge.

Long version: As I’ve said before on these posts: “Theory isn’t for everyone, and I am the everyone in this situation.” And that has not changed one bit I am sorry to report, theory is still not my cup of tea. I can appreciate that essays are needed to make the degree legitimate, but at the same time I would much rather be doing practical work in all honesty, as I feel that suits my skill set much more. However, one thing that can be said is that the people teaching this module are passionate about what they are saying.

The module is marked with a 3000-word essay, worth 70% and a group debate, worth 30%. The debate was a good exercise in public speaking which is always a good skill to have no matter where you work. It was also a nice change from essays as what was reached could be used later on to defend your point when someone tries to counteract. Overall all though, I just didn’t really connect with this module as I did with the next one.


Cult Cinema (Optional)
Short version: I loved this module!

Cult Cinema introduces you to films that are often marginalised in academic film discourse as a consequence of their modes of production, content or manner of consumption. The module theoretically explores the interrelated concepts of ‘cult’, ‘trash’ and ‘exploitation’ cinema.

Long version: Okay, so you know I said I didn’t like essays, that still stands, but I did enjoy the lesson. The module is marked on two essays: a 1500 word essay and a 2500 word essay.

 Okay so let’s just jump straight into the Pros: If you enjoy learning about film history, especially the weird side of it, this class is for you! Every week we’d sit and watch weird clips from old films and then analyzes them! And honestly, what other lesson lets you openly talk about all the bad movies you’ve watched free of judgment. Additionally, the teacher is amazing, having Andrea Wright as your teacher is so much fun, as she’s not afraid to throw her class into the deep end when it comes to the weird films made in the past. We also got to do movie quizzes where there were prizes and even if you didn’t win a tub of sweets was always being passed around the class. The biggest con, however, is, of course, the essays. And yes, I may have not written the best essays in that class, but I did have a lot of fun!


I hope you learned something from this post or at least found it interesting. There is a lot of other modules that I have not discussed as unfortunately, you can’t study them all, so please feel free to check out the website for the rest of them. Again thanks for reading, it means a lot to me.
Until next time!

Film/Show of the day: The End of the F***ing World (2017)

Assignment Writing Tips!

Happy new year!

Now I am back at university, I have a lot of coursework ahead of me…yey! Writing assignments can be a difficult task for everyone and it is often hard to know where to start. Here are a few handy tips I wish I knew as a fresher…

  1. Visit the library 
Edge Hill Library

After reading all of the notes provided by your tutors, you should have a clear picture of what the assignment question wants from you. Edge Hill’s library is stocked with thousands of books and journals for every course. By accessing the online library system, you can search for any specific books appropriate for your assignment question. The library codes provided will then allow you to easily find your book. They are automatically renewed every 2 weeks, unless it is reserved by other students. However, if you know a lot of students are also searching for similar topics, I advise you reserve them in advance! I really recommend referring to books or journals when writing assignments because websites are often unreliable. Although, Google Scholar is a useful tool to use.

2. Plan, plan, plan!

An obvious aspect which is important for writing assignments is the planning involved. I find it difficult to start writing without an initial outline. Even if it is a small or messy plan, it is necessary to have something to guide you and jot down your ideas. I usually take the time to gather any queries I may have to ask the appropriate tutor. However, there is usually all the information you need available on Black Board.

  1. Take breaks

Often, the most difficut part of writing an essay is thinking about how to start it. I find that once you get started, you begin to feel more confident. BUT, remember to have breaks. It depends on the person, but I personally cannot work hours straight without procrastinating! Grab a coffee, phone a friend or get some fresh air.

  1. Proof-read

I cannot stress enough how important it is to proof-read. A simple spelling mistake can affect your mark based on the grading criteria. It took me a long time after submission to realise I wrote ‘practioners’ instead of ‘practitioners’ 10 times in one essay. Try to proof-read when you’re not too tired because that is when mistakes can be easily looked over!

  1. Take advantage of Edge Hill’s resources

Edge Hill offer a wide range of student support including help with academia. Uni Skills hold regular workshops to advise on academic writing, as well as organising one-to-one support. These learning services are always there, so don’t panic and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

I hope these few tips will be useful to you and I wish you the best of luck for your coursework and exams! Feel free to ask any questions, until next time! 🙂

It’s Christmas! 6 Winter ways to relax

Merry Christmas to you all- and to those who don’t celebrate- I hope you’re having a wondeful winter break!

Following on from last weeks blog on wellbeing (linked here), this week is all about ways to take a step back and chill out over the break – wether you’re on or off campus.

1. Layer up and go for a walk- you’ll see some pretty sights, and it counts as exercise for the day! (If on campus, I recommend taking a stroll around the lakes and saying hello to the ducks!)

2. Read a book- and not a text book! Take some time out to cozy up and immerse yourself in a good story. Libraries on and off campus are a great place to discover something new.

Christmas tree in the SU shop

3. Meet up with friends old and new. Share stories of the first few months of the academic year- show off your Edge Hill merch and exchange gifts.

Flat mates that buy you Edge Hill Christmas jumpers are keepers

4. Have a bath! If you’ve come home from shower-only halls, coming home to a house with a bath feels like the biggest luxury. Grab yourself a bath bomb and soak away!

5. Food! Christmas time means there will be all sorts of food to go around- and it certainly makes a change from a student diet of instant noodles, pasta and toast!

6. Get any course work done early. There’s nothing worse than trying to relax with the weight of unfinished assignments hanging over your head. Knuckle down and get them done so you can have a guilt-free rest of the break! For those of you with exams coming up in January- make yourself a time table of what you’re doing over Christmas- and slot in time to revise and stick to it, so you can feel prepared and not be worrying when you should be enjoying time with family and friends. 

For other tips and takes on the Christmas period at Edge Hill, see Anna and Ellie’s blogs about celebrating Hanukkah at uni and tips for studying over the break.

That’s all from me for now, I hope you all have a wonderful day and rest of the break!

A Short Guide To Presentations

Many courses at Edge Hill University require you to present as part of your coursework. I don’t particularly enjoy presenting to an audience, but then again, I doubt many people do. However, one thing about presentations I do enjoy is the creation of the visual medium you present from. Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Google Slides – these are the tools of the trade. Although my experience is primarily from scientific presentations, hopefully, these tips can transcend course boundaries and aid people from any discipline!

Text

The most common mistake when creating a presentation is to fill it to the brim with words. When this happens, you run the risk of reading directly off the screen and overloading your audience with information. I’d suggest minimal words on the slides, relying more on visual information like pictures and diagrams. However, words are still very much necessary to convey key information. Any statistics, unfamiliar names, or important facts should be highlighted by having them on screen – preferably with a related image.

Theme

An important part of a presentation is the theme. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as long as it’s consistent. All of the previously mentioned programs have built in themes, with more available to download. I’ve found that most of the time, simple is best.

Here, the theme revolves around three main colours, orange, lime and cyan. Not exactly harmonious colours, but the contrast allows me to get the point across visually in graphs and diagrams.
A simple theme of just orange and white, but making use of bolding to highlight key points, as well as images to provide further understanding and make the slides visually interesting.

Graphics

Equally as important as the theme are the graphics in a presentation. Use of pictures to engage the audience helps break up any lengthy sections of the presentation and provide further visual information. In my two examples here, you can see how the images of four different habitats become the background of the next slide detailing the environments, and the use of a full-slide map that was used to provide context to the presentation.

In the biological sciences, graphs are very useful to display key numerical information in a visually appealing way. When using graphs, colour coding is key – as are labels. If your graph is up to scratch, then no other written information should be necessary on the slide and any further clarification should be made verbally.

I hope these tips serve you well, and I wish you luck on any future presentations you make!