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 OST 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 OST been instrumental in your career?
Charles: The skills OST taught me have made me one of the “go-to” IT employees in my current shop, and my new OST skills have made me competitive for positions I would have never thought of applying for. The OST 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 OST 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 OST coursework and corresponded with my OST mentors while on a two-week vacation in South Korea! Finally, the OST faculty, staff, and students form an active and vibrant community as evidenced by OST’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: OST’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. OST 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 OST students everywhere).