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Online CS Degree and other decisions


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#1 Zichu   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 03:08 PM

I have been reading a lot of threads in this category for months now. It's nice to see what other people are doing and how they it could be different to what I am doing.

 

I'm currently 20 and live in the UK. I will give you a little about my past few years and decisions I have made up until now.

 

I left high school at 16, went to College and took a level 3 BTEC course. The course was terrible and I wasn't learning anything which made it really boring. It's a none exam course, it's all coursework, and at the time I had no enthusiasm to much in the lectures because we would go in and just do coursework while the lecturer sat there for 2 hours or more saying nothing at all. Now I don't see how that is learning. So I left become Decemeber and was doing crappy little courses online, researching as much as I could, learning about different things and spent the year doing dossing.

 

I stumbled upon GameInstitute and it was pretty good to begin with. I moved from C++ to DirectX and then I found it really hard and didn't understand much of it. The tutors stopped replying to my messages, so I wasn't getting any feedback on what I was doing. I wasn't really putting in enough hours while doing this and didn't see how important it is to learn as much as I could.

 

I got serious at like 18 and a half. I started learning about ActionScript because at the time I thought I could get into making Flash games, get some games on Kongregate and make some money. Well at the time I don't think ActionScript was for me. It just felt different, but there will be a time where I will have to learn about different languages like ActionScript, Java, maybe Python, Lua, etc.

 

I bought a book on Maths and Physics for Video Games because I felt I needed to know how it worked and was quite important in video games. Now I didn't understand much of that book because it also included Algebra, and I haven't dont basic algebra since high school. So I put that book on hold, bought an Algebra book and a Linear Algebra book to help with the previous book. I'm also done with the Algebra book, been working on it for 10 months now, but this was along with learning from a DirectX.

 

So, onto the DirectX book, got Beginning DirectX 9 by Wendy Jones and I found to be a great book and helped me a hell of a lot compared to the earlier book I used. I know a lot more about it now than I did before, but there will always be some things I won't know completely, which is why it's best to go through it a couple of times before putting the book away lol. I've written some programs based on the books examples, but tried my best not to look at the code whilst writing it. I'm currently working on the last project in the book.

 

I'm not the kind of person who can just think of a problem to solve and write a program for it. So the way I've been learning is by reading through the examples, making sure I know exactly what each part does and how each class works with other classes. I write like bullet points on each function or class in a word document, very vague description as to not give to much away and try my best to write a program from it. I do get errors and do manage to resolve them. The programs usually are up and running without any problems after that. I know the best way to learn programming is to program, but I've not come across anything that would require me to write a program... Sadly...

 

 

So I've been learning from books, checking these forums, and I have actually been writing code and not just reading through stuff completing ignoring my compiler lol.

 

My plan was to try out Indie development and actually make a living off of it, if I'm any good, but I would like to have a safety net just incase that doesn't work out for me. Because I don't have any qualifications from College, I'm unable to go to University until I do. I actually find it easier to learn at home, in my time, it's comfortable, it's relaxing and I don't have to worry about other students, spending money on transport or giving up my job. I found an A level Mathematics course online which offers UCAS points when you complete the course which is what is required to get into uni over here, along with a ton of money... I've heard A level Maths isn't easy, but I couldn't find anything else online that was any good, I know maths is important and I actually enjoy maths, so I've just got to put in the extra effort to learn as much as I can and pass the exams.

 

I would also have to take on another course to get the rest of the points, and if I do manage to get enough points, I was thinking of taking an online Computer Science course by the University of Hertfordshire. It does offer a Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computer Science if I pass at the end. I will post the link for this course and you can check the course material:

 

http://www.herts.ac.uk/more/uh-online-distance-learning/online-courses/computer-science-online-degree-bsc-hons.cfm

 

It doesn't have as much content compared to actually going to a campus, but it's cheaper and it could still offer me a safety net for the future.

 

 

So I just wanted people's opinions and want to know if other people are in my position and are doing alright or have already been in my position and maybe not doing so good.



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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22242

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 04:02 PM

There have been several discussions about higher education lately, and schools in the UK were typically among the most expensive.  I can understand why you would be interested in an online program.

 

Be very careful with online degrees.

 

If you're going for an online degree, shop around.  Consider degree programs from other countries.  Avoid for-profit schools entirely.  

 

There are many online schools with high dropout rates, others have rates closer to the traditional brick-and-mortar schools.  Find out those rates.

 

Finally, you should seek the opinions of adults in your geographic area; this includes your parents.  Ask your neighbors and friends.  Ask graduates of the school you are interested in, and if possible, ask dropouts of the school you are interested in.

 

 

That school looks pretty good, with a strong track record of a traditional school reaching out online, but in my opinion their tuition prices are still fairly high for an online-only program.  Their tuition for an online program is nearly double the tuition charged by my three local brick-and-mortar universities.  Maybe that is just because schools in the UK are more expensive generally, but I'd continue shopping around.


Edited by frob, 22 December 2012 - 04:08 PM.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#3 snowmanZOMG   Members   -  Reputation: 892

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:47 PM

Not trying to be a negative nancy here or anything, but I just wanted to say that the level of rigor and breadth of the program you've linked looks laughable.  Even the graduate level course selection is something I got at the undergrad level.  But, more importantly, I don't see a single mention of discrete mathematics, data structures, algorithms, or compilers.  Any CS degree worth their salt will have these courses.  Unless I've missed something, this seems much more of a vocational degree than anything else.

 

*Edit* I also don't recall seeing anything about computer architecture either.  Very important.


Edited by snowmanZOMG, 22 December 2012 - 07:57 PM.


#4 Zichu   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:44 AM

Well this is just for a safety net, I plan on going indie.

 

I already have several game ideas which I am adding and changing often. I do need to start drawing stuff out though (even though I can't draw)

 

I was planning on starting the A Level Maths in January, this is from an open college so I would learn the course content at home and go to an exam center to take each exam when I feel I am ready. It has an 18 month limit, but can be completed earlier depending on how much effort you put in.

 

I still have a couple of years before I decide on whether I choose an online CS degree or go on campus, so by then there might be more options compared to now and they could be better or could be worse. Otherwise, I still have the option of going to the University of Birmingham which isn't too far, should save me on paying for an Accommodation >.<

 

 

Anyway, is it still possible to learn the content you mentioned like data structures, algorithms, etc. from books?



#5 snowmanZOMG   Members   -  Reputation: 892

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:05 AM

Sure, you can learn just about everything in computer science from books or the internet.  It's just a matter of finding good materials and having the self discipline to really learn it instead of telling yourself you know it after a cursory glance/attempt.



#6 Zichu   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:24 AM

Well I don't tend to just read through my books, I have specified times of studying, write stuff down, do the exercises or go through the examples. Find questions on the internet about certain chapters and try and answer them.

 

Like my Algebra book, I have one for actually learning the material and another one which is a workbook with questions for the chapter from the previous book. When I finish a chapter in the first book I do the chapter associated with that chapter to make sure I know how to solve the problems without needing to look at the examples or answers.

 

 

Like I said before, it's mainly a safety net, university is quite expensive, but if I have to go then that's what I will have to do. What do you think of the material in this course:

 

www.cs.bham.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/cs.php

 

This isn't an online course.

 

I still feel it's daft having to pay this amount for each year...



#7 Zichu   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:23 AM

Has anyone else got anything to add??



#8 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10070

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 02:47 PM

Has anyone else got anything to add??

http://www.igda.org/games-game-september-2007


-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#9 Zichu   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:47 PM

Cheers for the link. I don't feel as worried, I always try to discuss things with my Dad about these kinds of things and getting a lot of opinions and researching helps me a lot.

 

I get worried way to much, I'm only 20 and I think way to far into the future. Like University, I haven't even done any college courses yet and already thinking about Uni, job, pension, etc.

 

I will definitely do my A-Levels Maths course, do another course after that. If I get the grades I want, I know I have the option to go for a university degree, but will still find the stuff I did from a college course useful and help me in the future.

 

 

I have been learning for a couple of years now, so I know I can do stuff on my own and have learnt quite a lot, not just from books, but from sites and just researching as much as I can.



#10 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1886

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:20 AM

I know this is an old thread but I found this and they have a CS program. It is not too expensive and it is online. Hope this helps out. It made the headlines here in Scandinavia so I noticed it and thought of this thread. 


"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

Albert Einstein

 


#11 Anri   Members   -  Reputation: 597

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:41 AM

Having just finished a Degree with them, I do recommend the Open University.  Aim for a Certificate first, then move on to a Diploma of HE and then finally a Degree.

 

If I were in your shoes(20! I was that young once!) I would start now and do a module at a time to complement your own self-taught effort. Whilst I wouldn't kill yourself trying to complete the Degree as fast as you can, I would get the ball rolling now, so if you do find you need a Degree, you will have less to do as you get older.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. ^_^



#12 BloodR0se   Members   -  Reputation: 106

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:13 AM

The problem with the Open University though is that they don't offer any games-related degrees at the moment and don't have any plans to start as far as I know, especially considering the changes in UK tuition fees over the last few years. They do have a couple of games related modules but they're just short courses and don't count towards any of their standard degree programs at the moment. 

 

I'm an OU student at the moment but when I started I had the choice of either them or the UoL external program. The course advisor at the OU told me that whilst they don't offer any games-related BSc's, it would be possible in most cases to do an IT or Computer Science course with them and then move onto a games-related MSc afterwards with another institution. 






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