Student Interview Explains How OST Works-O'Reilly School of Technology
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A student interview gives insight into how the O’Reilly School of Technology works.

Having enrolled in a whopping 19 courses and completed 12 so far,
Student of the Month Charles Daly knows a thing or two about the O’Reilly School of Technology. Read on to get a feel of what it’s like to be an O’Reilly School of Technology student:

Charles: Before answering your questions, please let me tell you how very grateful I am for all you did for me! I’ve been an engineer since 1988 and got a PhD in imaging science in 1998 (Google Charles J. Daly AND scalar diffraction — that’s me). Since then, I’ve bandied the term “database”around quite a bit, but, as your classes taught me, I had no idea what I was talking about. YOU taught me what databases are and how powerful they are. Now, I can actually talk about OLTP and OLAP with confidence. Before my DBA cert, I was one of those people who called an Excel spreadsheet a database!
Anyway, thanks for everything!

OST: How have the skills you learned at O’Reilly School of Technology been instrumental in your career?

Charles: The skills O’Reilly School of Technology taught me have made me one of the “go-to” IT employees in my current shop, and my new O’Reilly School of Technology skills have made me competitive for positions I would have never thought of applying for. The O’Reilly School of Technology classes have also enriched my personal life by allowing me to do things on my home computer that I never dreamed of doing.

OST: What did you like about the overall O’Reilly School of Technology learning methodology (learning by doing, mentor/student interaction)?

Charles: Wow, there are so many things to like! Well-designed course content.
Challenging assignments. Caring, patient, and knowledgeable mentors.
Courteous and responsive staff. Reasonable tuition rates. Cool eBooks. Convenient hands-on-training available anywhere, anytime. I even caught up on a lot of my O’Reilly School of Technology coursework and corresponded with my O’Reilly School of Technology mentors while on a two-week vacation in South Korea! Finally, the O’Reilly School of Technology faculty, staff, and students form an active and vibrant community as evidenced by the O’Reilly School of Technology’s website, which is constantly being updated with relevant material. Once I signed up for online language training [at a different school], and the website is a virtual e-ghost town.

OST: What did you like about the OST tools (CodeRunner, Sandbox)?

Charles: O’Reilly School of Technology’s Sandbox is an intuitive delight. It’s so easy yet so powerful, and you can’t break it! I’m going to keep signing up for courses just to keep my Sandbox account active! Also, support for CodeRunner and Sandbox is person-to-person and top notch!

OST: Suggestions for improvement?


    • Tie eBooks to course content by assigning either suggested eBook readings or assignments from the eBooks. O’Reilly School of Technology takes the trouble to select the books and give them to the students, but we do very little with them.

      OST: Good point. We historically thought of the e-books as complimentary references for after the course is done, but some courses (ie. PHP/SQL 2, etc.) have successfully included portions of the e-book to compliment the coursework. We’ll keep that in mind when working with authors in the future.


    • Ensure lesson content and lesson assignments are commensurate. There are few courses — particularly in the Perl series — where I feel the the lesson assignments are much harder or not very well connected to the lesson materials. This comment does not apply to the DBA series or Client-side web programming certificate. Both are outstanding!

      OST: Thanks for letting us know. Perl is one of our newest Certificate series, so we’re always trying to improve the assignments and lessons over time. We’ll work on that ASAP.


  • Make most lesson code non-copy-able. Put code in jpgs to force lazy students, like myself, to have to write the code. I have to confess, I copy and paste live-text code too much.

    OST: Doh! Well, we certainly have to agree with that. While typing out the example isn’t the whole enchilada when it comes to learning the concepts, it does provide the practice of creating code on your own that helps to solidify the concept in your brain. We’ll look into fixing that (much to the chagrin of lazy
    O’Reilly School of Technology students everywhere).



  • Julia

    There are disadvantages to making the code non-copyable:

    Sometimes you play with the code and make changes, and then want to revert to the original version of a long listing. It would be tedious to retype it all over again. Granted, you could keep backup copies, but that just adds a layer of frustration.
    Sometimes you make a small transcription error and the code doesn’t work. It’s useful to cut and paste the original code to confirm that the problem is with you (or even, heaven forbid, with the original).


  • ChazD

    Hi J.,

    You make good points. Guess I should should be disciplined and type code myself if I want the practice!


  • Edward Odonkor

    well sometimes typing the code is not that convenient; copy and paste is OK, mostly makes reading whiles you work easier as long us you get the concept that is great.

    This school has made me confident in the area of UNIX/Linux; MySQL databases; with this course I have built 4 databases in two different geographical areas using two master-master replication with slaves attached to each master. I have not even finished the introduction to databases but I am using the books and the course to the maximum. sometimes I leave my school work for months because of live projects I have to complete. my salary has tripled in two years. There is no doubt about this school. for someone in Africa is an expensive course but it is worth it. The books are great as well, expensive in Africa. Please give specials to African people. I love OST for life. They have made me stand out in my work place; I make the technical decisions now, be it IT infrastructure or server related I am there. I love this school. Edward Odonkor.

  • LD

    I am considering to enrol for Perl certificate. Would you say OST certificate has any recognition within Perl community and in trying to get a job in general? Thank you.

  • ChazD

    Hi LD,

    Having almost finished the Perl certification, I can say with certainty that you will learn a lot of Perl! Try the first class out, and see what you think.

    Since I haven’t finished the cert yet, I don’t know how much cert recognition there is, but my sense is that all OST certifications are well respected.

    In any event, I’m sure you will feel comfortable applying for Perl positions once you’ve completed the OST Perl series. Oh, certificates contain the following info:

    Office of Continuing Education
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Certificate of Professional Development
    In Recognition of Participation and Completion of the O’Reilly School of Technology [Certification Name Perl, Java, etc]

    List of completed courses required for certification

    Your Name

    and signed by

    U of I Office of Continuing Education official and
    Director, O’Reilly School of Technology.

    So, the Certificates themselves are very professional.

    After you finish the cert, you will end up with a portfolio of skills, programs — including powerful one-liners, and knowledge of packages/modules. I would urge to be able to describe your “portfolio” to prospective employers. Good luck!


    • Kerry Beck

      Just to be clear Chaz, we currently offer only proficiency-based “certificates” as opposed to “certifications.”

      This may help clarify between the two:

      Certificate vs. Certification: What’s the Difference?

      Professional or personnel certification is a process by which individuals are evaluated against predetermined standards for knowledge, skills, or competencies. Participants who demonstrate that they meet the standards by successfully completing the assessment process are granted certification.

      An assessment-based certificate program is a non-degree granting program that:
      (a) provides instruction and training to aid participants in acquiring specific knowledge, skills, and/or competencies associated with intended learning outcomes;
      (b) evaluates participants’ achievement of the intended learning outcomes; and
      (c) awards a certificate only to those participants who meet the performance, proficiency or passing standard for the assessment(s).

  • LD

    Hi Chaz,
    thanks for your reply.
    I did enrol for perl certificate and really enjoying it!

    Best of luck,

  • Tim

    Chaz – well done on your accomplishments.

    I have completed a couple of OST courses and have to agree that the standard of courses and the level of the assessments is perfect – challenging, but not impossible and constructed so that you actually learn.

    Sandbox is a delight; my only request would be that you could ‘step through’ your code when testing in order to help debug, as in other development environments.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Toni Toni

    I’m looking forward to online school.

  • domenico

    omg i hope you are not going to put the code-part of the lesson in jpg this is going to break one of the most important thing in coding – type less!!

    it’s not important to write all the code ourselves , it’s just important to understand what the code does and there are many good reasons in copy and paste good ready-to-use code, typing less there are less possibilities of syntax errors and waste of time

    and even if we copy that code for some reasons we need to modify it to take full control of it in further lessons and objectives so please let the code be code :)

  • ChazD

    Hi All,

    I’m the student featured in this blog. My recco to kill live text code in favor of jpg’ed or image code to force typing was/is an epic fail.

    I retract that suggestion!

    I still strongly recommend OST classes. They are great!


  • Chazd

    Chaz back again with mad props for OST.  I was trying to scrape a site with javascript:doPostBacks and was getting my rear kicked.  Using the Perl skills OST taught me, I was able to google some solutions, really understand them, and, most importantly, scrape the postbacks.  Couldn’t have done it without the great Perl instruction I received from OST.

  • Chazd

    Chaz back again with mad props for OST.  I was trying to scrape a site with javascript:doPostBacks and was getting my rear kicked.  Using the Perl skills OST taught me, I was able to google some solutions, really understand them, and, most importantly, scrape the postbacks.  Couldn’t have done it without the great Perl instruction I received from OST.