Although convenient, online studying can also feel isolating. After all, you’re all alone in front of a screen, probably missing the camaraderie and face-to-face interactions of a physical classroom.
That’s why our team at the Open Institute of Technology set out to change the typical online education experience, breaking down all the virtual barriers before them. The goal is clear – OPIT students are never to feel alone during any step of their academic journey. And this goal wasn’t only met but surpassed rather spectacularly (if we do say so ourselves).
Are you interested to know how our team pulled it off? Great! At OPIT, we love questions, as well as sharing success stories.
To answer this question thoroughly, we enlisted the help of Rosario Maccarrone, our Director and Head of Student Services, and Sara Ciabattoni, our Class Coordinator. They’ll break down OPIT’s impressive support system, which has effortlessly transformed students from over 40 countries worldwide into a close-knit community.
How Does OPIT Support Its Students?
When it comes to student support, one thing’s for sure – few (if any) remote learning programs offer such an intricate and well-thought-out web of support as OPIT does. This support starts before you even enroll in the Institute and often ends only after you’ve landed your dream job.
At OPIT, we have a dedicated admissions team that guides applicants every step of the way – from expressing interest in a specific course to becoming a student. This team has a simple goal – to ease your path into OPIT. So, don’t hesitate to ask any questions regarding the application process itself, program details, or course requirements.
Let’s not sugarcoat it – starting a new program can be extremely chaotic. You might have trouble enrolling in courses, managing your schedule, and navigating all the complexities of a new academic environment. But don’t worry; it’s our administrative support team to the rescue! This team will help you breeze through all the administrative requirements, from applying for courses to getting certificates.
In this regard, we must also mention the lovely Sara, aka our class coordinator.
The class coordinator is here to help the OPIT students with their everyday needs and tasks. This might include questions about classes, deadlines, or interactions with other students and faculty members. Let’s put it this way – if you’re ever unsure who to reach out to, Sara is your go-to person.
As she puts it, “You can reach out to me, and I will guide you.” Take this as a blanket statement, whether you have a specific question or are simply struggling with time management or your studies.
At the end of the day, all OPIT students are here to learn. That’s why Rosario made it his mission to ensure top-notch learning support for each and every OPIT student.
It’s perfectly natural to struggle with specific parts of your coursework, especially if you’re dealing with these concepts for the first time. That’s why there’s a dedicated team of tutors at your disposal at all times.
When we say “at all times,” we truly mean it! These tutors are available seven days a week, every day of the calendar year. You can reach them and ask for any lecture-related assistance you might need.
You’ll promptly receive an answer from these professionals who have strong backgrounds in computer science and tech. Most of our academic tutors have a PhD or are currently obtaining one, so you can rest assured you’re in good hands.
With classroom learning, posing a question to your professor is a breeze – you just raise your hand! In most online classrooms, however, this option doesn’t exist since classes are usually pre-recorded.
That’s why OPIT offers a live class once a week featuring a handy Q&A session. This session is the perfect opportunity to directly interact with professors in charge of different subjects, gather all the necessary information, or resolve any doubts. After all, some questions are quite complex and can only be answered by the experts.
And that’s precisely what our professors are. Some of them have taught in universities for their entire careers. Others have a long and impressive history in the industry, having worked at tech giants like Microsoft and Meta. Either way, our careful selection of professors is a guarantee that “what we say is what we do,” as Rosario puts it.
Though this isn’t a team per se, the continuous assessment methodology employed by the OPIT faculty is a crucial element of support for our students.
This methodology is exactly what it sounds like – students are assessed continuously throughout the duration of their courses. There are many pedagogical benefits to this approach, but the two primary ones are as follows.
One, our students can advance their knowledge gradually, which allows them to retain and apply information more effectively. And two, it eliminates the stress of cramming for the big and scary final exam that often overwhelms the students. Sara emphasizes that this approach allows you to enter the job market with a well-rounded understanding of your field.
Speaking of entering the job market, OPIT will lend you a helping hand in this regard as well. The goal of the career support team is to “help students shift from their academic journey into their professional journey [with ease],” as Sara puts it.
Given that most OPIT programs equip you with skills for dozens of different career paths, you might struggle with choosing only one. That’s where our career advisors come into play.
As you approach the end of your academic journey, these advisors will work with you to assess your skills, capabilities, and qualities, helping you pinpoint the most suitable career path. Then, they’ll review your CV and coach you on presenting yourself to potential employers in the best possible way. They’ll even help you look for a job and present you with some tailored job listings.
If you want to gather more practical experience before fully entering the professional arena, our career advisors can help you find tailored internship positions to suit your needs.
There’s a reason the above section is so short. OPIT prides itself on its competence-based approach that lets students “learn by doing,” as Rosario puts it.
OPIT courses are pretty hands-on, with at least two assignments whose goal is to help you put your knowledge into practice. Rosario calls this “filling the gap between theoretical knowledge served by classical universities and applied knowledge that is more often than not given through boot camps or non-accredited courses.”
The goal of this approach is to ensure students can “hit the ground running” and “apply their knowledge from day one.” There’s no need to go through a lengthy training process or learn anything from scratch!
Given that our mantra at OPIT is “You’re not alone,” it shouldn’t surprise you that we offer several ways to communicate with fellow students and faculty staff.
Canvas, our learning platform, is a treasure trove of knowledge and valuable resources. However, it can also serve as a vibrant communication hub.
You see, Canvas offers an option to start (or join) discussions and ask questions regarding anything course-related. Sometimes, professors can even publish some interesting and thought-provoking prompts that go beyond the traditional course material.
In addition, during some live classes (hosted on Zoom and available in Canvas), students are divided into smaller groups and put into breakout rooms. This typically gives them 10 to 15 minutes to work together and start a little discussion or debate. Sara says that she sees “a lot of interaction there,” as she has access to all courses and can review the exchanged messages.
While Canvas is the ultimate learning platform, it’s slightly too formal for student interactions. That’s why we also provide our students with access to a Slack channel for their classes and each of their courses. Here, students can share “whatever they see fit,” as Rosario puts it.
Moreover, Slack is a valuable tool in the professional context (widely used and integrated into workflows in many companies) – by being able to know and use the tool, students get closer to their job market.
Other Communication Channels
OPIT students are free to use whatever communication channels they want. It’s only natural for them to want to communicate in an environment that’s entirely under their control, as opposed to faculty-controlled Canvas and Slack.
We see no problem with this. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! As Sara explains it perfectly, “We’re really proud because we’re building a community.”
For now, our students prefer communicating via WhatsApp groups and Discord servers, which they use to share their experiences, feelings, and problems. Rosario says that it’s easy to tell what some of these discussions are, as they often spill over in some of the requests the Institute receives in terms of administration and term organization. Of course, we’re always open to feedback and do our best to accommodate the preferences of our students, especially when they’re so wonderfully united.
At OPIT, You’re Never Alone
And there you have it – the complete support system devised to ensure that every OPIT student feels connected, supported, and empowered throughout their academic journey. Apply for one of our highly acclaimed programs today and experience this unparalleled support firsthand.
In this unite.ai article, Riccardo Ocleppo, Founder & Director of the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), leverages his experience from Docsity to revolutionize higher education. OPIT aims to innovate and modernize education by offering high-quality tech degrees at an affordable price. It prioritizes hands-on learning to bridge the theory-practice gap and fosters diverse skill sets and networking opportunities.
Discover OPIT’s innovative approach, which includes embedding AI across all its degree programs, in the full article at unite.ai: https://www.unite.ai/riccardo-ocleppo-founder-director-of-opit-interview-series/
The Open Institute of Technology (OPIT) is a unique institution through and through. From an unparalleled support team that guides you every step of the way to state-of-the-art virtual resources, OPIT redefines online learning. This institution also proves that online education can be as enriching as its traditional counterpart. Better yet, it can outperform it in numerous aspects.
This fact alone begs the question – how did it all begin?
To answer this question, we’ll go straight to the source – the founder of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo.
In this article, Riccardo will walk us through his journey of envisioning (and building) OPIT and transforming online education in the process.
The Pre-OPIT Years: Where It All Began
To understand how Riccardo came up with the idea for OPIT, we must travel back to the year 2006. That’s when Riccardo graduated from Politecnico di Torino with a bachelor’s in electronics engineering.
This institution is arguably the most prestigious in Italy (and one of the most reputable in Europe). So, it shouldn’t be surprising that Riccardo chose to continue his education here, pursuing a master’s degree.
He completed the master’s program in 2008 and did so with honors.
Yet, Riccardo couldn’t shake the impression that it was all in vain. In his words, “When I left the university, I had the impression that I could do very little, and I knew very little that could help me in my professional endeavors.”
But Riccardo decided not to sit idly by.
He saw it this way – it might be too late for him, as he was done with his studies. But it’s certainly not too late for future students who deserve a better education. That’s why, only two years later, in 2010, he founded Docsity.
Docsity is an online social learning network with over 20 million registered students. Thanks to this network, over 250 universities worldwide received help in improving their study programs (and finding students).
Docsity also gave Riccardo a chance to fully immerse himself into the education sector for over a decade, finding new ways to reform it from within.
OPIT’s Inception: From Vision to Reality
With the knowledge (and the resources) from Docsity, Riccardo started working on a platform designed to provide the kind of education he wished he had received. The platform in question was, of course, the Open Institute of Technology.
The primary goal of OPIT was to bridge the gap between “what students expect, what companies need, and what higher-level institutions actually deliver in terms of training and education.”
From Riccardo’s experience, this gap was pretty huge. Remember that even with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electronics engineering, he felt he had little to offer to companies.
This perceived shortcoming primarily comes from the fact he received a lot of theory at the university but very little practice. And that’s not to mention how outdated the curriculum was, as well as laser-focused on electronics engineering. In other words, bid farewell to “competencies on the most recent technologies and project management methodologies.”
This perspective made him determined to create a holistic educational solution. Or, as Riccardo puts it, “When designing OPIT’s degree programs to address the skills in high demand today, we chose to start from scratch to go beyond the limits of traditional higher education.”
At OPIT, you’ll receive valuable knowledge beyond theory. Essentially, OPIT equips you with everything you need to enter the job market, ready to excel in your field from day one (or day zero, as Riccardo calls it!).
Tailored for Triumph: OPIT’s Unique Programs
Designing any online curriculum is no easy task. However, the computer science field comes with its unique set of challenges. Why?
This field is constantly evolving. That’s what makes it difficult for most traditional higher education institutions to keep up. As Riccardo puts it, “[These institutions] are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and new trends within the educational sector.” Of course, thanks to Docsity, Riccardo speaks from extensive experience, as he’s seen “multiple times how difficult it is to help these institutions update their study curriculum.”
Companies have it no easier.
Riccardo says, “A company needs one to two years to make people that should be trained on today’s technologies and on today’s skills effectively enter the job market and be productive when they enter these companies.”
Again, Riccardo speaks from personal experience. As a founder of a tech company (and a manager in others), he was tasked with creating and managing big tech teams on several occasions. However, despite interviewing hundreds of candidates, he couldn’t find those trained in today’s technologies, not those from 20 years ago.
With this in mind, he designed OPIT’s curriculum to effectively “train the next generation of leaders and managers in the field of computer science.” Many people helped him in this endeavor, chief among them Professor Francesco Profumo, current head of institution at OPIT and former Minister of Education in Italy.
This unique approach makes OPIT’s programs different in terms of how they’ve been conceived and how they’ll be delivered.
Take the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Modern Computer Science program as an example.
Riccardo says that to be a great programmer, “you cannot just dive into programming itself.” First, you must understand how a computer is built and how its various units operate and communicate. This way, you’ll have no issues debugging a code in the future since you’ll understand the underlying mechanisms.
These underlying systems and foundational skills are precisely what is taught during the first term of the modern computer science program. Afterward, you’ll move toward the latest advancements in computer science, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. This way, you’ll have quite a broad perspective on computer science, rarely seen in other educational programs, online or offline.
It also means you won’t have to specialize in a particular field, as you’re forced to do with many other programs. In Riccardo’s opinion, the master’s degree is where you should begin your specialization journey.
OPIT offers as many as four master’s degree programs, but Riccardo focuses on Applied Data Science & AI this time.
In Riccardo’s words, “The whole purpose of this [program] is actually to train people that do not want to pursue a super technical career but actually want to pursue a career at the intersection between the tech and the management of a company.” In other words, individuals who complete this program will acquire all the necessary tech skills. However, they’ll also be able to ensure the tech team is “correctly understood by the management of the company,” thanks to the managerial skills earned during the program.
Of course, this program also covers all the essential theoretical knowledge, from Python to machine learning. But it also has a solid applicative angle, teaching students how to use the most valuable tools available in today’s market. Simply put, you’re training “for what you’ll be doing when you enter your next job.”
Breaking the Mold: What Sets OPIT Apart
The unique curriculum isn’t the only thing that sets OPIT apart from other higher education institutions in the same field. Here’s what Riccardo singles out as OPIT’s most appealing characteristics.
Learning at your own pace can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have all the flexibility and freedom to organize your studies (and life). On the other, you might start procrastinating without a traditional daily commitment of in-classroom learning.
OPIT ensures this unfortunate scenario never happens by doing away with one big final exam you must cram for. Instead, you’ll be continuously assessed throughout the program, allowing you a much better approach to learning and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
As Riccardo puts it, OPIT will give you “multiple checkpoints,” preventing you from getting “lost” throughout the learning process.
New Learning Resources
According to Riccardo, most of today’s available resources were created for the “oldest wave of education.” That’s why he (and his team) created all OPIT resources and learning materials from scratch, giving you a fresh perspective on the tech world. These resources also come in the form of engaging videos, which are short enough to keep you fully focused yet detailed enough to provide a deep understanding of the topic.
Let’s not sugarcoat it – modern resources mean nothing if the professors teaching them still stick to old-school principles and approaches. Luckily, this isn’t the case with OPIT’s faculty.
Every member of this faculty has been carefully selected based on their academic expertise, business experience, and global perspective. These professors aim to “help you learn in a more engaging and interesting way,” as Riccardo puts it.
He also adds that OPIT’s faculty breaks away from the common saying in academics, “Those who can’t do, teach.” In his words, “We didn’t want to have people that can teach because they cannot do,” so that’s the standard he prioritized when bringing people on board.
Future-Proof Your Career
Now that you know the fascinating tale of OPIT’s conception, all that’s left to do is to get in touch with our team of experts and take the first step in future-proofing your career. As you’ve already seen, OPIT will take care of most of the subsequent steps. All you need is a desire to learn and an interest in developing new skills, and success is imminent.