An Inside Look at a UW Applied Computing Course: Programming I

Kaitlynn Martin March 2, 2020
A graphic with various items surrounding a laptop with "programming" on the display's screen

We get it—choosing an online degree can be intimidating. You want to know everything you can about the program so there are no surprises once you start weekly coursework and projects. If you’re reading this, you most likely know that qualified technology professionals are in high demand. Your first step to stand out to employers is a well-rounded education focused on both hard and soft skills of a tech role, and that’s where the 100 percent online University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing comes in.

However, what does a UW Applied Computing course look like? What exactly are you expected to complete each week? How do you interact with classmates and faculty?

Below are the answers to these questions and more. This is your inside look at APC 300: Programming I.

What will I learn in the course?

APC 300: Programming I is an introduction to the history of computing, fundamental computer concepts, and structured programming techniques. It provides hands-on coverage of simple data types, problem solving, program design, conditional execution, loops, and basic user-defined methods. Java is used to teach the basic concepts of program analysis, design, implementation, debugging, and testing.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of programming and computing history
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the Java programming language
  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental computer concepts and structured programming techniques
  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of program analysis and design
  • Use various simple data types in their programs
  • Develop code using control structures for conditional execution
  • Develop code using repetition structures
  • Use predefined Java methods
  • Develop and use basic user defined methods
  • Design, develop, and debug complete application programs

What will the lectures be like?

In fall and spring semesters, the course is comprised of 15 lessons that span 15 weeks (1 lesson per week), while the summer semester is an accelerated 11-week format (1-3 lessons per week). Unlike an on-campus program, you are not required to attend a lecture during a specific time.

Along with readings, some lessons include narrated slideshows where the faculty member walks you through the week’s lesson(s). This is especially helpful for the APC 300: Programming I course, as you dive into the world of computer systems and languages.

As a student, you take the reins of your learning experience. You can start and stop a reading, narrated slideshow, or video on your own schedule within the lesson, and you can listen to, watch, or reference content as many times as you need to reinforce the material.

What types of assignments will I complete?

The number and variety of assignments may vary from course to course within the UW Applied Computing program. A typical week may require readings, narrated slideshows and/or video lectures. These textbook chapters, videos, and other learning materials focus on the week’s lesson(s) and prepare you for assignments, projects, group discussions, and quizzes.

Each lesson includes key terms that you will need to know to fully understand the week’s content, as well as a breakdown of learning objectives for the week. To put what you’ve learned into practice, you will take an end-of-lesson quiz or complete a problem-based discussion assignment, such as finding errors within a set of code. Once you post in the discussion all of the coding errors you find on your own, you will unlock access to a greater discussion forum where you work with classmates to fix the coding errors.

All assignment due dates are clearly outlined in the Course Calendar, which you can refer to anytime during the course.

What else will I do in the course?

APC 300: Programming I is a project-based course with the goal that students will feel confident and be successful with their new programming skill set. A couple weeks and lessons into the program, you will be assigned projects that will help you flex your programming muscles. For example, one project instructs you to write code for a Java program that calculates the perimeter of specific math shapes, such as a triangle with an area equal to ½ its base multiplied by its height.

At the course’s halfway point, your week’s assignment will be a midterm exam that covers all the lessons you’ve completed so far and involves code-writing prompts. You will also be assigned a final exam in the last week of the course, which is a comprehensive opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you’ve learned.

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Dr. Ahmad Abuhejleh

Who is the instructor?

Dr. Ahmad Abuhejleh is one of the UW Applied Computing faculty members who teaches the APC 300: Programming I course. He is a professor of Computer Science and Information Systems at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and earned his Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of St. Thomas, his master’s degree in Computer Science from Minnesota State University-Moorhead, and his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Houston.

Dr. Abuhejleh joined the UW-River Falls faculty in 1988, where he teaches a variety of undergraduate courses in Programming, Object Oriented Theory, System Analysis and Design, and more. His main areas of research focus on database theory, current trends in programming, and computer ethics.

“I thought it would be a difficult experience learning a course online. But thanks to having a great professor [Dr. Ahmad Abuhejleh] who is passionate about what he does, it made my experience and learning a lot better and easier. I absolutely love UW APC and its methods and teachings. For someone like me, who works 40+ hours a week, it’s a struggle to just take courses, but with this opportunity UW APC has to offer, I believe I can, too, graduate in a field I will find useful in my future.”

-Jason, UW Applied Computing student

Do students in the course interact?

Yes. Students interact and share ideas through graded discussions in Canvas, the program’s learning management system. Specifically for APC 300: Programming I, students are broken into small discussion groups to work together on assignments, such as a scavenger hunt for coding errors.

You can also collaborate, ask questions, and have general, non-assessment discussions in the virtual Student Resource Lounge. Many students are surprised to find that they get to know their instructors and classmates better online than in a traditional classroom.

How much do I do in one week?

Time commitment varies depending on how much previous educational and/or professional experience you bring into the program, as well as your work and life schedule.

In addition to the UW Applied Computing academic directors and other resources offered by your chosen home campus, the UW Extended Campus Student Services team is comprised of Success Coaches. Offering support for academic, coursework, graduation, and personal needs, your Success Coach is there to guide you through the program.

Have questions about APC 300: Programming I or the online bachelor’s UW Applied Computing program? Learn about our expert faculty, how to apply, and more. Enrollment advisers can help with all of your questions. Call 608-262-2011 or email

Programs: Applied Computing