Semester One – Week Four: Thursday 18th and Friday, 19th October 2012

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Five years ago in September 2007, I returned to College where I started on a Beginner’s IT course.  Now, here I am three weeks into my BSc Year.  Throughout some painful, dark and difficult days over the last four and a half years, the one area which seems to be my most successful is my return to education with Leeds City College.

I do find it difficult to get myself motivated sometimes to go to College, especially on a Thursday but I do attend.  Absence is not an option for me and, usually, I’m fine when I arrive.  However, this week, on Thursday , I just wanted to be quiet and get on with my work.

What happened

In HCI we covered approaches to predictive and user involvement.  In my lecture notes I did relate the lecture back to the experiment we are to carry out towards the end of November.  In network management we were given a case study to create the network for the given scenario.  While I extracted the key information from the case study, I find it difficult to map out the network on the software we have been using in College, especially when it comes to IP addresses and subnet masks.

We have been focusing on literature reviews and paraphrasing this week in research methods.  We carried out a paraphrasing exercise which I then went on to do the exercise again in my lecture notes.


I am slowly beginning to settle down now into the new academic year.  I have felt so unsettled that I have felt sick over the last four weeks.  I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the paraphrasing exercise.  When I repeated it in my lecture notes, I wasn’t sure it had gone as well as the exercise we completed in the lecture but I know with practice, I will come to improve upon this thoroughly enjoyable part of research, reading and note-taking.

Good or Bad

I’m still not analysing the modules so far.  It is probably because I am to wrapped up in the course work at this early stage that I don’t sit down and reflect on the good and bad parts of any of the course, the content and the work load.  I will do as I get further into the academic year, especially with my dissertation piece which I have to write.

What would I do differently?

At the moment, each lecture is a part towards our assessments.  All I can do is read, take notes and learn at this stage.




Semester One – Week Three: Thursday 11th and Friday, 12th October 2012

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Back down to earth following last weekend’s Graduation Ceremony and now the serious business of getting on with my BSc year begins in earnest.  I want to do well this year and I can only do well if I put the time and work into it to get what I want out of it.  Of course, being woken up at 4.55 am by an almighty cat fight isn’t a good thing when I am in lectures until 9.00 pm.

What happened?

Up to this point in time, the evening classes aren’t too bad.  And that’s something I never said when I was in my previous employment where I worked evenings and I hated working evenings and weekends.  This is different, in as much as I’m being challenged and I am using the old grey matter whereas in my job I wasn’t using the grey matter and I was easily getting bored.

I left my project book at home with the starts of a 750-word practice literature review in it on Friday.  Clever! (I write with not a small hint of sarcasm going on there).


I am still settling into the third year and the new timetabled hours.  A little bit of spontaneity on Friday afternoon where a few of us met at the pub nearby campus after our lectures.  We got to know each other a little better that way and with a couple of new members of the group, it was a great opportunity to settle them in as well.

Good or Bad

I still find it is too early to analyse how the course is going.  At some point, I will analyse it but I’m not ready yet.

What would I do differently?

I have to ensure that I have the relevant notebook with me for the day’s lectures, especially when I know it’s got work in it that I have started.  I seem to have returned to the good old fashioned method of pen and paper for the time being before committing anything to the computer.  Still, if it works for me, then I don’t have to change anything just yet.




Saturday, 6th October 2012 – Leeds City College Graduation Ceremony

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I do not usually blog about College on a Saturday, however, I make an exception to this today because it is our Leeds City College Graduation Ceremony which is being held at The Great Hall at Leeds University.

The Schedule at a glance:

8.30 am:    The venue opens for robing, cafe opens for guests

10.00 am:   All graduands called for briefing – you must be ready by this time

10.25 am:  Disabled guests are called for use of lift and priority seating

10.30 am  All other guests called (remember all guests must bring their tickets)

11.00 am:  Ceremony starts

Approximately 1.00 pm:  Refreshments

2.00 pm:  Robes must be returned

It was an apprehensive, nervous wait once I’d been robed up for the ceremony upon arrival at the venue.  I was accompanied by my husband and our eldest daughter (who as her school’s Cambridge University candidate – got to experience a graduation ceremony as a guest because I hope, in the not too distant future, to be attending her graduation ceremony).

It was well worth the wait when the traditional ceremony began.  We were presented with our awards by Simon Weston OBE who gave such an inspirational opening speech.  My daughter admitted that when I went up for my award presentation, she felt so proud of me, she had a tear in her eye.

Sunday, 7th October 2012

It wasn’t until today when I woke up to a beautiful autumn sunny day with a clear blue sky that I wished I could bottle up how I felt following yesterday’s graduation ceremony.  If I could bottle up how I felt this morning, it would be great to be able to open it on those days when I am feeling stressed or depressed.

This morning it felt like the best feeling in the world.  I wanted to go out there and show everyone that I CAN DO IT!  I can do whatever I set out to do and achieve whatever I want to achieve no matter what!

To everyone who has ever supported me and is still supporting me, I want you all to know just how grateful I am for all your support.  Without their support I could not have gone from Beginner’s IT to graduating with a Foundation Degree and achieved as I have done.  Without their continued support, I’m sure I would not get through the next academic year and the challenges it will bring.

It is very much appreciated, even if I don’t always show it and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  Love to all of you xxx




Semester One – Week Two: Thursday 4th and Friday, 5th October 2012

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The past week has flown by so fast and it’s our Foundation Degree Graduation Ceremony on Saturday.  And I’ve come down with a cold so quickly into the first semester.

What happened?

During the HCI lecture, our lecturer uses the time to discuss our dissertation projects.  I had a creative dissertation in mind but it was not as well received as I thought it would be.  To be fair, it was pointed out to me when I was asked – what did I want to do with my degree?  It was suggested that if I were going into a media-related profession then it would have been a good dissertation to carry out, however, I’m not going into a media-related profession when I’ve completed my degree.

In network management, it was more of getting my head around binary,  subnet masks and hosting addresses.  This is going to require a lot of reading because I am a complete novice in networking.  That aside, it does mean I have to put down the current autobiography I am completely engrossed in.


It was a huge relief for me to get home by 10.00 pm on Thursday.  To be honest, I am not an evening person and I do make the exception for going to live concerts and the theatre – but that’s the limits of my socialising these days.  I am still trying to settle down to the third year and get myself on track with my dissertation project.  It is not a project to be taken lightly and I now have to go back to my original career path which was teaching in the lifelong learning sector.

A small part of me does not want my creative aspect quashed.  I’ll just have to put any creative projects on the back burner for a little while, unless, by some miracle, I can manage to fit time in for hobbies and interests and then my creative side can be satisfied.

Good or Bad

I still feel it is too early to analyse the third year.  I have to admit it is harder doing a degree when you’re a mature student simply because there are so many other aspects of life which can and do get in the way.

What would I do differently?

Always, always, stick with my original plans for my future career and don’t be swayed or distracted to go off track – it saves time when it comes to making decisions about dissertation projects rather than being so unsure what to do.

Foundation Degree Graduation Ceremony tomorrow.





Semester One – Week One: Thursday, 27th and Friday, 28th September 2012

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All those plans I had for the summer now seem like a long and distant memory away.  And, the unfinished personal projects will have to wait until next summer now.  In fact, summer, for what we had of it and the memorable summer it was, now feels like a long and distant memory.  The nights are drawing in, the leaves are changing and the new academic year has got under way.

It’s back to College for my BSc (Hons) Top Up year.  I did finish my Foundation Degree in May and I could have stopped at that qualification but not to do my top up year and gain a full honours degree was never an option for me.  And I know it is going to be intense, hard work until next May.  I’ve already felt stressed out.

We are timetabled in for lectures on a Thursday evening and Friday.  This does not mean that the rest of the time is for me to squander away, although I know my time management is a lapsed area, not only after the long summer off but the rest of the year as well.  It’s probably one reason why I feel so stressed out because of the amount of time I waste.

What happened?

It was 3.45 pm promptly and we attended our first lecture.  The group is small because College have partnered up with Leeds Metropolitan University to run this top up year.  And we have been told this is the highest qualification Leeds City College offers to students, there is no higher qualification throughout the entire College.  No pressure then to do exceedingly well, or, at the very least, do my best and give it my best.

Our first lectures were HCI (Human Computer Interaction or Interface – depending on whom you speak to) and Network Management.  A couple of interesting computing topics.  I’m completely new to Network Management and while I have heard of HCI, I’ve never studied it in great detail.  The following day our lectures were Research Skills and Research Methods.  We have these simply because we are to produce a 10,000 word dissertation by the 26th April 2013 (“23 Fridays not including College holidays”) and the research lectures are to get us started on our dissertation projects.

As is usual for me, I’ve already changed my mind about my dissertation project but I will come to this later in the post.

Good or Bad

I can’t comment at this early stage what I found good or bad about lectures, the timetable or the challenges of the BSc year.  It is, after all only the first week I am reflecting upon here and the second week of lectures this evening and tomorrow morning, so it is a little premature to be analysing what I consider good or bad.


I cannot deny that I feel like a rabbit in the headlights at the prospect of the forthcoming challenges of this academic year.  It is, by far, one of the biggest challenges I will face in my academic career so far.  I suppose that is what it is for me, an academic career because I am still currently unemployed and struggling with and against depression.

I have never felt so apprehensive and scared at the prospect of returning to College, but, this academic year has seen me feel sick with fear and nerves at the thought of returning to College.  I am aware of what I have taken on but it still didn’t stop those strong emotions over the last couple of weeks prior to enrolment, induction and the first week of lectures.

What would I do differently?

Again, a couple of weeks into the new academic year, it is too early to say what I would or would not have done differently.  I just hope not to repeat the mistakes of the previous two years because this will demonstrate that I have learnt nothing and achieved little.

My Dissertation

I’ve had a personal project in mind for the past few months now.  It’s probably relatively unknown but I do write a journal.  Yes, I am an IT student but I use the old fashioned journal and pen to write my journals in long hand.  Some entries may make it to my personal blog at but not many because my journals deal with deeply personal issues which I am not sure I want to publish on the internet for all to read.

My project which I had in mind was to add depth and meaning to my journal writing by taking a photograph every day and writing about it.  It might not appear to be a dissertation topic but I have found that there are issues with photography and the IT aspect of it is that images are readily available on the internet.

Let us not forget that there are cameras everywhere and I am not certain how many times one individual will be caught on camera in any one day – I will, of course, as part of my research, have to look up this statistic.  Needless to say we are caught on camera with CCTV, mobile phones, digital camera equipment and digital video equipment every day but there are issues which I believe not everyone is aware of them.

If I am to make my personal project and my dissertation a successful piece I will ultimately be proud of, I intend to carry out an investigative dissertation.  It might not draw any conclusions or recommendations for the issues in photography, especially digital photography but I hope it will make me aware before I embark on my project the issues and pitfalls I could, potentially, come up against.

A couple of scenarios which are based on real events:

A photographer – probably professional or paparazzi – catches a famous couple on a private holiday, she is sunbathing topless so, assuming he used a long lens to capture the images,l he snaps her and then publishes the photographs.  Is he right to do this?

A mother and her daughter go to a concert in a small venue seating around 1700 people.  While the support act are on stage, the teenager gets her camera out to check for the best exposure for the main act a little later on in the evening.  She is approached by the venue staff and told no photographs, despite many other people in the venue taking photographs.  This prompts the mother to complain to the venue staff before the main act.  It was suggested to them that the no photographs were at the request of the artist and, yet, throughout the main artist’s performance there were still people in the audience taking photographs and using cameras and/or mobile phones.  How can this policy be adhered to without alienating audiences?

We all know that to photograph and film someone, prior permission is to be sought, but this cannot be policed when in the form of CCTV cameras.  Nobody asks permission to film the general public going about their day-to-day lives but it is happening everywhere.  And we’re told it is making for a safer society, but is it?

I just hope that these scenarios and that I have a deeply personal ambition and interest in the area, after all, I have had a camera since I was 18-years-old will be one of the best pieces of work I produce.  It might not stand me in good stead for a meaningful career but, having being advised that we have to enjoy our chosen subjects and how fast photography and digital images have changed alongside IT, it is something I really want to do.



The End is Nigh!

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Or is it new beginnings.  I know by the end of this month, I should be returning to College for my BSc year.  I am scared, apprehensive but excited at this prospect.  I’ve also enjoyed (or endured, depending on your viewpoint and the weather) the summer off!



28th June 2012


It’s my birthday and I share my birth date with a notorious historical figure, Henry VIII.  I’m not about to go into great detail about the great man, although the Tudor period is one of my favourite historical periods, no, I’m about to blog about my latest venture into gaining some sort of employment.

I applied for Student Digital Leader with College, the role sounded like it was made for me, so last week, I sent off my digital application at 10.45 pm last Tuesday night (19th June).  I attended the interview the following day at short notice but I have just found out that my application wasn’t successful.  And on my birthday!  I needed to know because I do not deal very well with uncertainty.

It seems the area to let me down on this occasion is that I have not had experience of organising events whereas fellow applicants have had the necessary experience.

While I am a little bit upset, I do question – how can I gain any experience if I am not given the opportunity to try?

I know I shouldn’t dwell on this and that I should see it as a positive step in that I know in myself it was one of my better interviews and that I will have success with what I’ve achieved and what I hope to achieve.

I just have to battle on and keep trying and it’s that which can be so difficult.


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