Friday, April 20, 2007

A review of Coleman College's / Coleman University's CIS program, part 4

7/6/09 UPDATE: Coleman College is now known as Coleman University - this review was written for their classes that I took in 2005-2006, so some things in their curriculum may have changed since then.

This is the mod where the programmers and the networkers branched off into their separate classes. We wouldn't be in the same class again until our final mod, mod 7.

Mod 4, for me, was Java and Oracle. Java was my first look into object oriented programming. They used a great book for this class and I really learned a lot from it by doing the exercises as I read through the book. I can't remember what the book is right now, but I can try to go back through my manual for this mod to see if it's listed in there.

One nice thing about Coleman College's core program is that they provide you with the books - you don't get to keep them, just check them out during the mod. But after the core program, you have to buy your own books. So during the core, you don't have to spend any money on textbooks at all. Which is great since you don't have to deal with going to the bookstore, getting the right books, and whether or not you'll be able to sell them back at the end of the class.

Anyway, Java... I learned a great deal about classes, objects, polymorphism, inheritance, swing, awt, Graphics classes, interfaces, threads, applets, exception handling, using Java with HTML, and oh my gawd... API's (anyone who took this class with me will probably have the same hatred of doing the API assignments).

It was a great introduction to Java, but I wished that we had more real world types of assignments instead of making stupid yo-yo programs or fireworks.

I wish that I had started at Coleman two or three mods after when I did start. Those guys who came after me really got the kinds of projects that I wanted to have. Especially the people who started three mods after me. Their websites for their internet programming classes were awesome. They had someone from the graphics department teaching them the kind of advanced CSS that I wanted to learn. And when they got to Java, they weren't making fireworks or yo-yos.

There were some other useful applications that we made like the pizza ordering one where you'd pick your size and toppings and whatnot. But the fireworks and yo-yo projects were just silly. Sure, you learn about threads and animation, but the apps themselves were pointless.

The 4 unit class for this mod was Oracle. For a 4 unit class, it seemed a hell of a lot more like it was 8 units. The work was way more than any other 4 unit class I took at Coleman. We learned PL/SQL, working with Oracle forms, triggers, stored procedures, exception handling, the LOV wizard, transferring data from form to form, what a boilerplate is, and a whole lot more.

The projects for Oracle were sweet - this was the kind of stuff I wanted. An application that uses some sort of GUI. Not just some console application with plain text. Seeing the finished project after all the work you put into it was really gratifying, especially since sometimes Oracle can be a pain in the ass to work with.

That's mod 4. Stay tuned tomorrow for mod/part 5.

Here are the links to all of the parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7more thoughts

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A review of Coleman College's / Coleman University's CIS program, part 3

7/6/09 UPDATE: Coleman College is now known as Coleman University - this review was written for their classes that I took in 2005-2006, so some things in their curriculum may have changed since then.

I covered what mod 2 of Coleman's core CIS program yesterday. Today, I'll delve into mod 3.

Mod 3 was UNIX and Operating Systems Installations

UNIX - this class was very similar to learning DOS commands. My original class was now grouped with the class that was one mod behind us. We learned how to use edit and the Vi editor. We also learned some shell scripting, using the magic number line. How to send mail and a whole bunch of other stuff that I really can't remember right now. Shows how much I really retained it, huh?

OS Installs - this class was mostly a bunch of labs installing various operating systems from DOS, Windows 98, NT, 2000, XP, and Fedora. And the instructor would also teach us some Windows maintenance stuff... like going to My Computer > Manage and doing a defrag and whatnot. And installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software. How to use Windows Update. Whoopdie-doo... big deal.

Overall, this was the most boring mod ever. Who needs to learn how to install outdated operating systems? Oh, and the computers in the install lab were absolute crap... soooo damn slow. For a school where you're supposed to learn about the latest in computer technology, you'd think they'd have better computers... especially with all of the money you're paying them to go there.

Here are the links to all of the parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7more thoughts

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A review of Coleman College's / Coleman University's CIS program, part 2

7/6/09 UPDATE: Coleman College is now known as Coleman University - this review was written for their classes that I took in 2005-2006, so some things in their curriculum may have changed since then.

Yesterday, I covered mod 1 of Coleman College's core program in Computer Information Systems. Today, I'll be giving a few details about mod 2, or at least what I took during mod 2 (they often mix mods around because they don't have enough teachers or classrooms - so you'll be grouped with students that need the current class you're taking, but may be a mod ahead or behind you).

My mod 2 consisted of Internet Programming and SQL. Before I get into that, what I didn't mention before was that for day classes (which is what I took), mods last for 5 weeks - 7 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

Ah, Internet Programming, I was really looking forward to this class because I've always wanted to learn PHP and MySQL in-depth. I sure was disappointed. Why? Because we mostly spent our time learning HTML. For someone who already knew HTML, this was such a drag for me that I had to start back with the basics of HTML. Booooooooorrrrring! HTML isn't even programming! So we focused on nothing but that for about 3 weeks of the mod. But I guess that's the beauty of Coleman if you know absolutely nothing about computers, then you'll definitely learn a lot here.

Then after HTML, we learned a little bit of CSS. I really wish we could've gone more in-depth with that, but it was really just a basic overview. What I'd like to see is using CSS for layouts (more than what the tutorial covered), menus, curved text, using styles for web and print, etc. After CSS, we spent a little bit of time with JavaScript, just using it for form validation - that was the main thing we used JavaScript for, so we didn't really get into anything more you can do with it. Then came PHP... woohoo! But what a letdown. All we did here was just a really simple shopping cart - I'm talking about this cart with only 5 products and you'd pick how many you want, it would calculate your totals and the JavaScript would validate your info. It didn't even e-mail the order to anywhere or put it in a database, it just gave the user their total saying their submission was a success.

During our last few weeks, we got to use Dreamweaver to make our pages. That was even more boring than learning HTML. As much as I like Dreamweaver (even though I still prefer writing my HTML manually), I've already learned it before! I took a class on it a few years before learning it again at Coleman. For me, if I'm not learning at least one new thing, having to relearn things sucks! But I had to do it because it's part of the curriculum and I had to turn in all of my assignments to get my easy A - you can't challenge or waive any classes (like you can at other schools if you can show competency in the subject) because you need to take all of the core requirements in order to get the degree. I think this is all part of how Coleman makes its money, by making you waste your time in classes even if you already know the shit backwards and forwards.

So, the other class in this mod was SQL. Since I knew very little SQL to begin with, this class was great for me; I was learning something new and very useful to know in programming since a lot of programs will often interact with a database. The teacher made it seem like the concepts were going to be extremely difficult, she kept saying how much project 2 would be "a killer" and after we did it, me and the rest of the people in my class just all looked at each other and asked, "What was so hard about that?" Again, we must have all been very bright individuals. I don't think either one of us ever got less than an A in anything the entire time we were at Coleman. Me and one of the guys who started at the same time as me both graduated with a 4.0. So that's either saying Coleman is way easy or their screening process really works. I never mentioned it before, but you have to take a math/logic test to get into Coleman - I think you get two chances to take it and if you don't pass the second time, you're not admitted. The test itself is really easy though, at least I thought it was.

So in SQL we learned stuff like: normalization, creating tables, adding data, deleting tables or individual records, writing queries to get information from tables, joining tables, views, using functions like date, max, min, count, sum. Lots of stuff I learned here. We also learned a little bit of using PHP with MySQL which was pretty cool to use a web app to update a database. I wish they would've tied both classes together a bit more. Like have us make a database in our SQL class and a website in our Internet Programming class that would interact with our database. Maybe they've improved it by now, but I kind of doubt it.

As usual, tests for both classes were on Papa Bear. Extremely easy tests.

Here are the links to all of the parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7more thoughts

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A review of Coleman College's / Coleman University's CIS program, part 1

2/4/13 UPDATE: I appreciate all of the comments from fellow alumni and prospective students. Hopefully they've helped someone who's trying to decide the best way to spend their money towards an education. I approve all non-spam comments (whether people say good things or bad things - I'm sure visitors who read them appreciate the honesty), but it sometimes takes me months to approve them because I don't use Blogger as much as I used to. So if you post a comment, please don't be offended if it doesn't show up right away.
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7/6/09 UPDATE: Coleman College is now known as Coleman University - this review was written for their classes that I took in 2005-2006, so some things in their curriculum may have changed since then.
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ORIGINAL POST:

If you live in San Diego county, you've probably seen the commercials for Coleman College... "the fast track to a career in computers" or something along those lines.

You might be wondering, is it worth it?

As a Coleman alumni, I'm here to give you my thoughts about it. Depending on what path you choose, you go through different core programs. Each core program consists of 7 modules or mods, with two classes per mod. One class is 4 units and the other class is 8 units, or you may even have 3 4 unit classes in one mod.

I first started off wanting to learn the Computer Networking side of things. Since the first three mods of the core program for both Networking and Programming are all the same classes, I got to experience the programming side and ended up switching my major to CIS after mod 3 (a lot of people at my campus ended up switching from Networking to Programming).

Mod 1 - Intro to Programming (using C), Intro to PCs and Networks

Intro to Programming gives an overview of how to program using the C language. Here you'll start off with learning pseudocode, proper C syntax, and then learn about variables, conditional statements, loops, arrays, multidimensional arrays, references, structures, etc. The programs you write are a simple calculator, then a more advanced calculator, a temperature conversion program, an interview program. I enjoyed this course a lot because my teacher was excellent at teaching the subject. You could tell that she really had a passion for programming in general and would do her best to help anyone understand it. She wouldn't give up on debugging anything, so you'd never be left on your own if you really needed help.

I don't know if it's just because the way my teacher taught it that made it seem easy or if it just really was easy, but it really didn't seem that hard at all. The other people in my class also thought it was pretty easy - maybe we were all just a smart group.

Intro to PCs and Networks was just that - an introduction. So if you already know a lot about how to use a computer, Windows, and Microsoft Office, then this will be a really boring class for you. They have this class because some people who go to Coleman have NEVER used a computer before. So that's why it's the way it is... and the instructor has to stick to the curriculum. He can't skip anything, even if the whole class already knows it. You learn all about computer hardware and how to put a PC together, the boot sequence, IRQs, DOS commands, Windows, Microsoft Office, and different types of networking. This class was just a big snooze fest for me and the other people in my class.

Before I move on to mod 2, let me take a moment to talk about tests. Tests are a complete joke. Sometimes there might be a written test, but 99% of the tests you take will be done on computer by logging into Coleman's "Papa Bear" system. Most of the questions are multiple choice, but some will be fill in the blank. You usually get two ungraded quizzes before taking a test and the quizzes will have the same questions as what's on the test. The quizzes are taken in groups, so that everybody has a chance to see more of the questions that are in the test pool. So all you really need to do to pass a test is memorize the answers that were on the quizzes. If you don't have a good memory or you weren't paying attention to anything in class, then you'll probably do bad at tests. Almost everybody does pretty well on tests... that's why they're such a joke.

I'll cover more of the mods in more parts of this review later.

Here are the links to all of the parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, more thoughts

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thanks, blogger!

Thanks to the people at blogger, I have control over my URL again. home.blogspot.com takes me to what I'm supposed to see now. :)

I've also migrated to the new Blogger now. I don't see that much of a difference now than what I've been using for the past few days, but as long as it works I'm happy.
So, my blog still takes me to some other dude's blog.

I'm just gonna keep writing until I can see my own posts.

This weekend was pretty fun. I went to Vegas and spent some time with family up there. I didn't go gambling because I hate losing money. But I brought my Wii with me, so we played a little bit with it. I kind of wish I had a few more multiplayer games, but I'm broke, so I can't afford any new games at all. Wii Sports was still fun enough. And the photo channel kept us busy too. Once I start earning some kind of income again, I'm definitely gonna buy a few more games or at least sign up for a Gamefly membership or something.