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

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