Friday, 23 October 2009

SMLP Grade

I feel I have achieved a Pass for the SMLP as I did everything I said I would do when writing my own Pass criteria.

My first learning objective was to investigate the uses of PHP and MySQL in the interactive media industry and to do this I said I would contact people in the industry and provide evidence of a forum thread discussing the uses and/or evidence of emails. I didn't send out any emails in the end which I could have done for a higher mark but I did start a forum thread and send out PM's asking people to contribute, thus meeting the objective.

The second learning objective was to learn how to put PHP and MySQL into practice to fulfil a simple interactive media brief. To do this I said I would use my resources and record evidence skills I learnt every week in a blog. I set up a separate blog for the SMLP and posted weekly updates on the skills I had covered in online tutorials and from reading my book, thereby meeting this criteria.

I said I would use these new skills to build a simple website that meets the creative brief I would be writing for the third learning objective, which was to fulfil the requirements of a simple interactive media brief using PHP and MySQL. The creative brief I wrote was for a fictitious local business selling pet products. They wanted a website to generate more custom but wanted this to be kept small as they couldn't afford a huge commerce site. They also wanted orders placed through an order form rather than a shopping cart.

Therefore I designed a website with only 5 pages to keep it small which covered a pet's basic needs. To keep it small I kept the current number of products to a minimum but the client would be able to add to these if the business grew.

In the brief I also said the site should use standards compliant XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 2.1 which it did. I also said it should use PHP 5.3.0 and MySQL 5.4 which it also did.

The website is fully functional and displays correctly across browsers. The form sends orders to the MySQL database I set up, and thus again meets the criteria.

For the final learning objective I said I would evaluate use of the self-managed learning plan and the final product. To do this I said I would write bi-weekly evaluative journal posts of around 250-300 words and a summative journal post of 1000 words at the end of the project. I only wrote one evaluative journal post but this was 2 weeks into the project, and 2 weeks later was the week of submission so I wrote the summative journal post. This still met the objective I had set myself, and as no real problems arose during the SMLP I don't think there was any need for any more than this. The two evaluative posts I wrote were indepth and gave a clear indication of how I progressed through the SMLP. So again this met the Pass criteria I set myself.

I don't feel I met all the extended criteria. For M1 'relevant theories and techniques have been applied' which 'you demonstrate a thorough understanding of the assignment's theoretical principles, and successfully apply them to your work'. I said in my SMLP the first learning objective would cover this, but as I only got 2 replies on the forum thread and I never emailed any other people in industry outside the forum I don't feel this is of a Merit standard.

M2 states that the 'appropriate structure and approach has been used'. To do this 'effectively use a range of devices that monitor progress of the assignment'. I think I did meet this criteria through my journal posts and the timesheet I devised to show the time I put into it.

The website would be used to assess M3 - 'complex problems with more than one variable have been explored'. The website was not particuarly complex and therefore not of Merit standard. Furthermore, M3 states 'your investigations into the creative and/or technical potential of the assignment produce near-professional solutions'. I don't feel the website was creative enough to meet the Merit criteria.

D1 would be covered by the summative journal post, although I don't feel I 'clearly' identified 'strengths and weaknesses' this time round.

I feel I did meet D2 as this states 'autonomy/independance has been demonstrated' which it was since I learnt PHP without any help, proven through the weekly blog posts that show the new skills learnt each week.

And finally D3 states that 'innovation and creative thought has been applied'. Since I don't feel the creativity was of a Merit standard, it certainly isn't to a Distinction.

In summary, I did everything I said I would do in the SMLP and I feel I did this to a Pass level so I have awarded myself a Pass.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Preparation for Employment

Hours: 5 DAYS 9AM - 5:30PM
Wage: £14,000 - £16,000 PER ANNUM
Work Pattern: Days
Closing Date: 12/10/2009
Pension: No details held


The position is ideal for a University graduate looking to kick start their career in web design with opportunities of working their way up within the company. We are seeking an enthusiastic,motivated,creative hard working individual to work with our current design team. The role will include the day to day management, maintenance & design of our ever expanding portfolio of web sites and involvement in our email marketing program. Experience using Adobe Photoshop & Dreamweaver are a must along with XHTML & CSS. Knowledge of Flash would be an advantage. No work experience necessary but strong knowledge of the above applications a must.

Original advert can be found on:

I have chosen this job advert because it is one I feel I could apply for upon finishing the HND. No prior experience in the industry is required (something that I noticed a lot of employers wanted) making it ideal for someone just coming out of education.

The only experience desired is with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, XHTML and CSS, all of which I have used throughout this course. Knowldege of Flash is considered an advantage for this particular role but is not listed as essential, and I have used Flash on a previous course so it would not be completely new to me.

I have had some problems with XHTML and CSS whilst on this course, but I feel I’ve already improved and my skill as a coder would now be sufficient for this job.

Other skills they list are enthusiastic, motivated, creative and hard working, all of which I believe apply to myself. As I’ve said before, I do need to work on my creativity when it comes to designing (as I believe my creative talents lie more in writing) but in spite of this I still feel that I am a creative individual, and with time I can bring this out visually as well as through my creative writing.

If I were to apply for a job such as this after the course, I would mostly concentrate on my creativity in preparation. I think the other skills they list have always applied to me, and the practical skills I have learnt through the course.

In terms of my creativity, I think to improve I need to be looking for more inspiration, enabling me to produce more creative designs and build up a better portfolio to show to employers.

The advert also states that I would be working with their current design team. While I may not come across as very sociable at college, this is down to some things going on in my personal life at present. However, I feel it would not be a problem when I am ready to go into the working world.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t find it particularly difficult to work as part of a team, and my time management (in terms of meeting deadlines) is excellent meaning I would not let the team down and would be quite capable of sharing the workload. I also think I have good people skills which have been improved through my part-time job as a checkout operator at Asda, where I have been nominated for the ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty’ (ABCD) award on several occassions for good and friendly service.

If I improve on my creativity I think I’d stand a good chance of getting this job.

Therefore, to summarise, I will work on improving my creativity to a more professional standard by looking for more inspiration in preparation for employment in a similar role. I will also ensure my skills at XHTML and CSS are also of a professional standard through lots more practice.