Personal development occurs naturally; it is what drives evolution on both a macroscopic and microscopic level. What follows is a specific study of accelerated development over a very short period of time—typical behaviour when introducing entirely new concepts to the human mind.
Do the kanban
My time-planning is generally good; I am very thorough with Trello only serving to heighten the clarity of my work. Time-management, however, is a different, more important skill to master— dealing with unknown issues that inevitably arise during a project.
Upon adopting agile methodologies I found it difficult to adjust to the flexible nature; it seemed as though I was just ignoring my targets by changing my plan every week, rendering planning useless. Due to the effort put into initial project plans, I formed a sentimental attachment and was reluctant to change them up so radically, and so regularly. This cost me time as I sought to find ways around making changes.
In reality, I have always naturally worked according to the agile manifesto because it seems common sense to me; just without documenting it. To get the most out of this system in future projects and throughout the next two years in general, I am going to pro-actively manage my targets and not be afraid to change them. To achieve my goal, I will assess previous and upcoming targets and compare them against my progress, applying any changes that might need to be made. I will do this by updating my Trello board at least every week, or when problems or changes occur.
I started this MA to enable continuous personal development whilst being a full-time carer for my terminally ill Father, who sadly passed away in September just a few months before the course began. At the beginning of week 4, my appendix exploded and I had to have emergency surgery to remove it, followed by 6 weeks of recovery. At the end of week 11, my foot was fractured and my ankle ligaments were torn in a sporting injury; I am approximately one-third of the way through my recovery. Having quit my job to look after my Father, I am also now trying to build up a freelance design business alongside my studies.
The combination of all these factors puts a huge strain on my mental state; they are surely the biggest factor in determining my successful completion of this course. When I have been able to work regularly during this module I find that I can make good progress and keep my mindset positive; it is the gaps between studying that have really proved challenging—for example, the initial weeks of recovery from my appendix operation were very painful and prevented any study. Gathering momentum time and again is much more draining.
To give myself the best possible chance of performing well throughout this MA, I am going to ensure I make progress every week, and document it on my journal, no matter how small. This will make it easier for me to keep track of any problems I face or solutions I come across.
The weekly webinars—an entirely new experience—have been the main source of group work, and it became immediately apparent that they would be amongst the most useful ways to spend my study time over the coming two years. As the sole avenue for real discussion with peers and tutors, each session exposed me to masses of new information and ways of thinking—something that is sorely lacking when studying remotely in solitude.
The delayed nature of the webinar (Monday evening on the following week) has been challenging to prepare for; inevitably there is a cross-over with the following weeks’ material which is a lot of information to keep track of, and it makes discussion of relevant material all the more important within the allotted timeframe.
To ensure I get the most out of each webinar I will compose detailed hand-written notes as I work through that week’s material and have them in front of me during the session. I will also read through my fellow students’ journal entries that week in anticipation of discussion pieces and add to these notes during the webinar, then present them as a piece of reflective writing each week in my journal.
Sharing is caring
So far I have only looked at apps as single, wholly contained experiences. The truth is—generally speaking—that they extend beyond the device; information must be able to flow to and from the app in order to provide the best user experience, whether that be through user accounts, high-score tables, or relevant data feeds.
Sharing of information is key in today’s society; this was really highlighted whilst rebuilding my app jam app PitchPal; I have been trying to contact the FA with regards to gaining access to their player and league data through an API if one exists. Without this, the user must manually input information. This is a key point in my development cycle and will have a big influence on the way my application works.
To ensure I can provide the best user experience, I am going to read up on linking databases with applications to store information, as recommended by Robert Hutchinson in the comments of my blog post on April 7th, titled “Need more data”. I will come up with a solution that will allow for a successful application even without the use of an API.
The stack has overflowed
As a complete beginner to the actual act of programming, I am well aware of my limitations. I have a solid grounding in programming theory and can construct pseudo-code with relative ease; however learning a programming language is as involved as learning a spoken language, with one exception—it is possible to “cheat” using sites such as Stack Overflow for specific answers.
Doing this throttles development of understanding the core of a programming language; I get stuck because I don’t understand the language yet, not because I don’t know what it is I want to achieve. It prevents me from learning autonomously; though often a good understanding of what the contributor is saying is required in order to apply it to my specific use case. Over time this has led to a lack of familiarisation with my own code.
To improve my general programming ability, I am going to ensure I fully document my code and journal any problems I overcome; giving me a full understanding of where I need to improve. I will work through the book Learn Python The Hard Way, committing 4 hours per week to it.
As a beginner at the start of a new course, a lot of the issues I face are more general in nature and can be put down to a lack of experience. By looking at a range of domains, I can ensure I develop my skills in a balanced way with no particular bottleneck on progress.
Let him who would move the world first move himself. - Socrates