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It is not that bad.

Posted by Mac 
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Mac
It is not that bad.
October 28, 2008 09:08AM
I am not sure why this semester is such a struggle.... You have learned all you need to do to finish the prac. You just need to put it together, with a bit (or even a lot) of Googling.

You have learned how to create a form. Everything in this prac revolves around forms.

You create a course with a form. The course information is now in the database, from where you can select it to use where you want, how you want. If I have all the students' information in the db, then I merely echo it back to a page to generate a list of students that has registered. If I want to generate a list of students with the courses they have registered for, then I need to do at least two SELECT queries - one that gives me the course and the student id's, and one where I use this id to fecth the student's personal information, which I then echo to the user. I then provide options as what to do with this information - does the user want to edit the information, or do they want to delete the information. Using the handbook, you should not struggle to code this.

You register a student with a form. Allowing the student to register for a course at the same time he registers his personal details is really up to you. There is no correct way - as long as you think the process is logical. So a student can first register and get a student number, and then he can register for a course using only his student number. You decide how you want to do it, but we want to see a facility where a student is able to register for a course. We've provide you with some guidelines, but finer details are up to you.

Once all the information is in the database, you then merely echo it back to the user. We expect and have encouraged you to spend time Googling, simply because not even a handbook of 450 pages is going to teach you everything. The handbook we have prescribed does contain a lot of information to help you with completing the prac, and we expect you to work some stuff out for yourself. That is the nature of programming and a skill that is difficult to teach. Some people will just make better programmers than others.

So while some people may echo information to be edited straight back into into a form, while others prefer to echo it to a page as text, as in <a href=delete_student.php?cid=$cid>Delete $name $sname</a>. It all depends how far you have progressed, and how much you have read.

Having said that, even if you just use forms to get all the information into the database, you have managed to do a lot, since all the information is now in the database.

How you manage it further depends on what you want to do with this information, and provides us with an indication of what you have learned (in and outside the course).

We are pretty confident, on the basis of previous semesters and our experience, that we're using the correct approach to teach you the skills we think you need to have to ensure that you move forward. So if you are not prepared to struggle a bit through all of this, then you should considered using Dreamweaver to generate your code for you. But then you will not progress far, of that you can be sure!

We do not expect you to code a 100% working application. If you want to do assignments where you merely give back sections of text, then I fear you have chosen the wrong course. But we also understand your frustrations - I have been coding in PHP for how many years, and I myself get frustrated. You'd better get used to it - or stay with static HTML (arrrgh!!!)

So I suggest you relax a bit and make sure you can capture all the data with forms. That should not be too difficult. Then you decide how you want to manipulate that data. For example, how do I edit student or course information? Of course many other questions will come up (like what is going to happen if I delete a course with students still associated with it). We're not going to fail you if you did not think of this and delete all students when you delete a course! In real life one can do it that way, but it will probably be good to save all the information to a history database (or to a course history field) just before your delete code.

If you have queries on how to code something, then just ask - I have seen many questions on the logic but little on the coding itself? But don't expect to get code you can just copy and paste. I don't want to mark myself!
Re: It is not that bad.
October 29, 2008 09:11PM
Thank you for the advice I appreciate it, but fear it is too late for me for my allocated time has run out. My honest opinion is that this practical is far too difficult for beginners in PHP because I see even experts in PGP programming struggle and argue about the problems on forums. If one looks at the degree of difficulty this course I think the study guide is insufficient and gets very superficial towards the end especially if compared to other study guides. Spoon feeding is not necessary but adequate training to really motivate and enable people and create understanding is a much finer art than this. I think beginners need much more guidance. I would have been able to finish this module succesfully if the practical was not so time consuming. So for me this is the end of the module. I am very near completion, but my time has run out. Wish those who remain great success.
Re: It is not that bad.
October 30, 2008 07:19AM
I disagree with Bothajar.
I found all the training we were given more than sufficient to complete the practical.
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Mac
Re: It is not that bad.
October 30, 2008 07:22AM
The study guide/manual serves as a "gentle" introduction to PHP. It is superficial for a purpose - not to overwhelm students. However, the prescribed handbook, which we have decided upon after many reviews of available handbooks, provides more advanced information on the topics and is probably the best handbook for beginners that one can find, with a nice balance between being introductory and advanced.

In our 1st tutorial letter we refer students from the gentle, even superficial as you call it, topics to the corresponding but more advanced explanations and examples in the handbook, thereby demarcating, in our mind, all that is required to complete the practical to a degree where we feel comfortable awarding a certificate of worth.

Programming from scratch is never easy to learn, let alone teach. Our degree students generally also struggle with programming concepts, which is why our other forums on programming are, as you correctly noted, the busiest.

As I have noted in my previous post, I can't quite put my finger on why some people struggle so much this semester. This course has been running for a few years now and the feedback we've had from students has only been positive. The practical is not that difficult - that it is time consuming could well be true. The only practical coding skills required is to create forms, send the information caught to another page, where this information is inserted, updated or deleted from the db. That there are many ways to do this is also true. Some students will ask more questions than others since they see the way in which this information can be manipulated different to others. We are not going to prevent students from developing their own brand of logic by limiting the practical to questions such as "create a form that sends information". I will create a different application to soemone else simply because I see thinsg differently. I am sure you would love to change some of the software you work with!

If you are very near completion, why don't you finish up and hand in what you've got? In the live examples I provided in another thread, you will notice that there is not a single one that is 100% complete. In fact, there are many errors - also in their code. This does not mean they they failed! So hand in what you've got....
Anonymous User
Re: It is not that bad.
October 31, 2008 07:54PM
Labuschagne,
I cannot agree with you. For someone who has never before been in contact with programming the prac is difficult.
I think the main problem lies within a general understanding of the logics of a programming language.
Iris
Re: It is not that bad.
November 01, 2008 08:43PM
i can understand the frustration expressed by Johan (bothajar)!
i am still also struggling with some very basic concepts; not so much issues of syntax, those can be referenced easily enough in various textbooks etc, but with some of the logic of how to intergrate scripts into other documents. for example: i have been trying various ways of adding those 'edit, delete' buttons onto the end of the student/course tables. i have created both the tables successfully, and seperately i have created links to edit/ delete either students/courses, but i would like to incorporate the table & the links into one. i have tried using the same method as used in the textbook, with no success. i have tried to work out how it was done in the examples provided but can't see the php, only the returned html.
i was also trying to get a bit more control over the page layouts by using dreamweaver, which i am comfortable with, but have no idea how to incorporate the php into an html page so as to work properly. none of my attempts so far have yielded results other than error massages.
so yes, the basic php concepts are not that difficult to grasp, but how to make it work in a larger context is somehow still beyond my understanding. and this is what the assignment is about: making php work in the context of a proper html environment.

tristan
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Mac
Re: It is not that bad.
November 02, 2008 10:46AM
This course requires pre-knowledge on the development of static Web based applications, which is HTML. This is a PHP course (and not an HTML course), so we do not cover the inclusion of PHP code in HTML. In any event, the HTML has more do do with the layout. We don't mark the the look and layout of your site, but the functionality of it. So if you want to add buttons, then that is your choice. We're happy with plain simple text links.

In the handbook, however, there is whole chapter dedicated to using tables to display data should you not be comfortable.
Re: It is not that bad.
November 02, 2008 05:57PM
I think this course is fine ,obviously one needs to have some basic programming skills in order not to struggle too much.I didn't find too much requirement for logic except on how to manipulate data bases ,linking ,extraction and displaying data.I completed my project using only the textbook ,the osprey forum and the manual.

It is not that bad.

I must admit at one point I was scared - off my pants!
Re: It is not that bad.
November 03, 2008 06:57AM
Quote
Iris
For someone who has never before been in contact with programming the prac is difficult.
I think the main problem lies within a general understanding of the logics of a programming language.

Like you, the only thing that I have done even remotely related to programming was the html course last semester (which is not a programming language).

I am coping fine with this assignment because everything we need to do is in the textbook. And if you really can't find it in there, there's always google.
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