Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The End of the Beginning.

After having handed my first assignment I experienced mixed feelings about this decision; should I have checked it yet again over Monday night or was I right to ‘draw a line’ under it and start focusing on the next tasks. I felt quite relieved as soon as I passed the folder over at the reception desk yet also a little seed of doubt (had I forgotten something?) but at the end of the day there are only so many times a piece of work can be checked and proof read.

I came into college this morning to participate in a group bonding football session and as I was trying get my breath back afterwards reflected on how well the first year students have managed to get on with each other; I hope it lasts as there is currently a good atmosphere and we are all generally willing to cooperate and help each other.

The first half of the first semester has gone quickly for me, although it has apparently been a gentle introduction in terms of workload. I have a sense of achievement from getting through the initial tasks and getting the first assignment in on time (and hopefully complete), also coping with an initially steep learning curve with setting up and using a website control panel, webmail and email on Outlook Express. I am looking forward to developing my website and uploading my creative efforts into it through FTP.

I feel another sense of achievement about returning to education after such a long time in work, and that I have made a positive move in both my professional and personal development. I am apprehensive about the increasing workload in the next term but am also beginning to feel more confident that I can meet these demands and that I have chosen the right course.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The First Few Steps...

As a mature student – and one of the oldest on the course – I was a bit concerned initially about being in a group with students much younger than me, but as there are people from a wide range of backgrounds, I haven’t felt too out of place. The initial ‘ice-breaking’ exercises, such as ball throwing, helped to introduce everyone and break down barriers, as did forming into small groups for various exercises. The egg-dropping design exercise also introduced some fun and friendly rivalry into the group and was a good way of introducing team-building.

The first four weeks have been a steep learning curve; for instance I have previously used Email and Instant Messenger but am new to setting up Blog sites and posting messages on forums. I am starting to feel more comfortable with posting messages and blogs and am aware that most of the other first year students are in the same position.

The first critique we had (Monday 6th October) focused on our Blogger profiles and our first Online Journal entries. As soon as Steve mentioned he had selected a few students’ posts as examples, I knew that mine would be one of them! I was a bit anxious about how it would appear on the Projector screen, but I had fairly positive feedback about the blog and my profile, although there were a few things to put right. I was impressed with the time and effort some people had put into the appearance of their Blogger sites, but I'm sure I'll soon find it easy to improve my own.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Where I've come from; where I am now; where I'm going.

As a qualified and experienced product designer, I have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of opportunity in my profession. Despite having sufficient qualifications I had difficulty in finding interest from potential employers and in gaining valuable work experience. I have also been disappointed by the limited scope for creativity and conceptual design within these positions.

During the ten years I have spent as a product designer I have worked for three companies, two of which have closed down due to competition from abroad and lack of demand. The third company has closed down its research and development department. I have therefore decided to return to college as a mature student in order to learn new skills which will hopefully open up new opportunities in the digital media industry.

I chose to study Web Design as it combines some of my current skills and strengths and also allows me to draw on previous work experience. It is also one of the few industries in demand in the UK, and potentially offers good career prospects.
I had been planning to move up to the Leeds area for a few months (from Cardiff) for personal reasons and had been looking at a range of courses in the area. The HND Interactive Media course seemed to offer a flexible and realistic approach that is appropriate for mature students. From the website description it seemed well thought out and relevant to industry.

In addition to the skills I will learn on the course I intend to keep up-to-date with new software and programming developments and also to learn new skills such as Flash animation. I may consider further education such as a part time degree, but at the moment I am more interested in finding freelance or permanent work opportunities and in gaining work experience.