Association For Software Testing began an experiment in online training courses in August of 2007 with the first version of Foundations. In 2008, Bug Advocacy was added, and in 2011 we added Test Design and the instructors course. We had a fairly significant platform upgrade last year, and have done small updates here and there to make sure links point to the right locations and things like that. But, for at least the past three years, these courses have remained mostly unchanged.
As testing crawls ahead and and software along with it, the lack of change in our material is starting to be noticeable. Some changes are starting to happen now.
One of the main aspects of our Bug Advocacy course is a long running, hands on assignment that deals with bug investigation and reporting on a real, live open source project. If you have taken this class recently, you will have noticed that looking for new issues to work on is getting more and more difficult because of years of BA students that spent time working on that same project. I took Bug Advocacy several years ago and occasionally still get emails from the bug tracking system from current students updating those same issues I worked with.
For now, we are moving the assignment onto a different product in this same opensource project. This will give students a fresh test bed to work in and should make finding something interesting to work on much easier. This is a temporary fix so that we can explore options for moving over to more modern software platforms so that our exercises stay relevant and meaningful to our students. Expect updated exercises in the future in addition to new test beds.
An important aspect of test design was a live one-on-one assessment of the final course assignment performed over video chat with an instructor and a student. The purpose of the assessment is to review and discuss work that requires layers of knowledge and skills developed through out the course, as well as grade the students work. This is often a stressful activity for our students for varying reasons. We have been running an experiment in the last two sessions of Test Design. Rather than performing live assessment of the last assignment, instructors offer coaching on the first assignment and followup when needed.
Much like the live assessment, an instructor and student connect on video chat but rather than meeting for the purpose of grading the work this session is focused on coaching. During a coaching session, instructors step through the assignment with the student to answer questions, address concerns, and clear whatever confusion there may be.
This is a shift in how the class is run, but so far it has been a positive experience for instructors and students that leads to deeper understanding of the material. This is very much in line with the BBST mission of hands on, practical education. Thank you to Anne-Marie Charrett for introducing the idea of coaching to Test Design.
This is just the beginning for BBST updates, there are new exercises and content in the works. Stay tuned and I hope to see you in the next class.