Warning! Rant ahead.
I tried to prepare them for anything. The proverbial anything that might befall. Anything could have come up on the exam paper. This is what the syllabus says:
Introduction and overview: What is JS, competing technologies.
Fundamentals of JS: The JS programming model, JS syntax
Writing client-side JS: Creating eye-catching animations and graphics, utilizing browser objects, handling browser events
Creating intelligent forms: Creating intelligent forms, client-side form validation, adding interactivity to forms
Developing server-side JS: Overview, building applications for Microsoft and Netscape web servers
Integrating databases: database fundamentals, integrating techniques provided by Microsoft and Netscape.
Complimentary technologies: Controlling Java, ActiveX plug-ins, Survey of IDE tools
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all we get from the University who run the diploma programme. No notes, no teaching materials, no recommended texts, no guidelines on what to cover and what not to bother with, no revision materials, and **no fucking idea what’s going to be on the exam!**.
Looking at past papers I’d say event handlers, form validation, comparison with competing technologies and using pop-up dialogue boxes were **in** while working with images, and server side JS were out. They came at us out of the sun with questions on GET and POST methods for submitting data (arguably not part of a JS class though necessary knowledge to work with forms), asked for **flow charts** to explain a gratuitous nested loop thing, and a load of difficult arithmetic questions that require knowledge of the precidence of operators:
y = 10 % 6 / 4 ^ 2 ^ 3 - 4
AAARRGGHH!! Nobody should ever have to learn that shit! That’s why god invented parenthesis: so that programmers can make the meaning of their programs clear, not so they can learn a load of complex and sublte rules that allow the elite to comprehend the opaque!
And here’s the rub: this exam is written, in a hurry (oh I forgot to mention all the typos and grammatical errors in the paper, incomplete, syntactically incorrect program fragments, and the like!) by someone at the university but will be marked by a bunch of other guys, who might not even know the language. The marking is subcontracted at so-many-shillings-per-paper to someone from one of the 17 colleges who offer the programme. He will then subcontract the marking to his colleagues, family and people he met in the local hotelli for considerably fewer shillings per paper. There is a marking plan, alledgedly, but if the marker doesn’t know the subject, and is in a hurry to make a bob or two, answers that don’t look like those on the plan will just get no marks.
I have never had this little control over a subject I have been teachin. I have complete freedom to teach what I want, and the examiner equally free to ask any old bollocks he chooses. The content of the exam cannot even be divined from the syllabus and if we were to take an inclusive interpretation of the syllabus, then the time available is not sufficient to teach the subject. It’s catch 22.