Why I'm posting this is I want to offer advice and assistance to anyone who is thinking about, or is already doing, this course.
A bit about me:
My name is Reuben, I'm 32 and a student with Open Polytechnic, on the last few papers of this diploma.
I've also been working full time as an Architectural Designer/Draftsman for one and a half years, in a small office of five. Before this, I worked in Kitchen Design and studied a Degree in Visual Art and Design. I should also mentioned that I'm married and we have a six month old girl.
I use ArchiCAD (Computer Aided Design programme) at work, and it is widely used in New Zealand by various firms. So I would recommend signing up for the student version (at the ArchiCAD website) while you study, and becoming familiar with its applications. I have also used Vectorworks in my previous study.
Tips and advice:
I would advise doing the 'CON10x' papers first, as they are more prescriptive, provide an overview of the construction industry have some valuable information that is used in the 'DAT10x' papers. The 'DAT10x' papers are what you will use a lot of in the industry, and as such require a lot more research and understanding of the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC), NZS 3604:2011 and a Computer Aided Design (CAD) programme.
Start becoming familiar with the CAD programme early on in your study (youtube videos/tutorials etc.), rather than waiting for the papers that require you to use it. This will mean you can focus on the course/assignment material, rather than having to learn how to use the programme as well. This is once you are on the 'DAT10x' papers.
Don't take on too many papers over a trimester, especially when it comes to the 'DAT10x' ones. Having three assignments falling on the same day is not very fun. If this happens, it can be good to apply for an extension (one or two weeks) so they are staggered.
DAT104 is 30 credits and over two trimesters. It is a lot of time consuming work and requires a lot drawing. So don't treat it like a one trimester (15 credit) paper and leave it too late.
I set up a word document (title, headings, sub headings, contents page, reference page, headers/footers) early on, and used it throughout the entire course. Each assignment I would delete the content and rewrite it to the suit the new assignment. I would include the assignment questions, and marking requirements (and weighting per question) in red and delete it before I handed it in. This meant I didn't have to switch between windows to see assignment questions and marking requirements, as it was all on my word document.
When using the CAD programme, during the 'DAT10x' papers, I would 'snip' (or screenshot) relevant information or details that I was referencing or using and import them into my drawing sheets. This again saved me switching back and forward between windows.
I read through the assignment questions before the modules, and then try and use the module information required for that assignment (rather than all the modules of the paper). As I found that using all the information from the paper sometimes meant I included irrelevant information in assignments that was not asked for, and getting carried away (which did not improve marks, just my work load).
Reply to this post, or email me if you have any questions, and I am happy to help and get back to you.