Black Box Software Testing Courses

The Association for Software Testing (AST) has joined forces with Altom to offer Community Tracks of the most current Black Box Software Testing® (BBST) courses! We’re excited to partner with Altom to offer an improved BBST® experience for our students, and to work together with Altom to advance the vision of software testing instruction Cem Kaner and Becky Fiedler created for the Context-Driven community.

AST now uses the same platform and content that Altom uses to deliver BBST®. AST uses volunteer instruction and leans more heavily on peer evaluation of assignments in the Community Track, at a reduced cost. Altom’s Main Track Edition offers more direct instructor relationships and individual feedback. You can learn more about Altom’s BBST® Courses here.

BBST® courses are respected in the industry for the breadth and depth of their content. They are led by testing practitioners, passionate about the craft, with extensive expertise and experience in all aspects of software testing.

Community Track Main Track
Latest Version of Content
Classwide Feedback
Modern E-learning Platform
Individual Feedback
Grades for Each Assignment
Successful Completion Certificate
BBST Foundations Courses
BBST Bug Advocacy Courses
BBST Test Design Courses
BBST Domain Testing Courses
Corporate Courses
Instructors AST Testing Practitioners Professional Instructors
Interactive Grading with Instructors


BBST® Community Track Highlights

  • Available to AST members and non-members.
  • AST members receive a substantial discount.
  • Up to 20 students per cohort, on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Course instructors are testing practitioners who believe in and use the course content themselves.
  • Content includes video lectures, quizzes, homework of various kinds, and a final exam.
  • All of the homework, and the final exam, are peer-reviewed by the other participants
  • Coursework runs for three weeks, followed by one week for the exam.

The Courses

Begin your professional development with AST by enrolling in the Foundations Community Track course. This first course (a prerequisite for all other courses in the series) is a basic introduction to black box testing. It presents basic terminology and considers:

  • The mission of testing
  • The oracle problem
  • The measurement problem
  • The impossibility of complete testing

Bug Advocacy

Sharpen your bug reporting skills with the Bug Advocacy Community Track course. (Successful completion of the Foundations course is required). Bug reports are not just neutral technical reports. They are persuasive documents. The key goal of the bug report author is to provide high-quality, well-written information to help stakeholders make wise decisions about which bugs to fix and when. Key aspects of the content of this course include:

  • Defining key concepts (such as software error, quality, and the bug processing workflow)
  • The scope of bug reporting (what to report as bugs, and what information to include)
  • Bug reporting as persuasive writing
  • Bug investigation to discover harsher failures and simpler replication conditions
  • Excuses and reasons for not fixing bugs
  • Making bugs reproducible
  • Lessons from the psychology of decision-making: bug-handling as a multiple-decision process dominated by heuristics and biases
  • Style and structure of well-written reports

PREREQUISITE: Successful completion of Foundations.

Test Design

Our third course in the AST-BBST Online Education series is Test Design Community Track. Good testing requires application of many test techniques. Each technique is better at exposing some types of problems and weaker for others. Participants will look at a few techniques more closely than the rest but do not become skilled practitioners of any single technique.

Course Objectives

  • Gain familiarity with a variety of test techniques.
  • Learn structures for comparing objectives and strengths of different test techniques.
  • Use the Heuristic Test Strategy Model for test planning and design.
  • Use concept mapping tools for test planning.

The course uses cases and scenarios distinguishing between early testing and later, more knowledgeable testing. Techniques emphasized include function testing, risk-based testing, specification-based testing, and domain testing.

PREREQUISITE: Successful completion of Foundations.


The Association for Software Testing is always looking for good instructors! This online Instructors workshop will use presentations and hands-on exercises to address the challenges of teaching online with particular focus on the methodology used in BBST® Community Track. We accept up to 20 students on a first-come, first-served basis and provide login information for the course about 4 days prior to its start date.

AST-BBST Instructors Course Online: You’ve taken AST’s software testing courses. Now find out how you can get involved in teaching these for AST, for your company, or independently. You’ll learn how the BBST® course developers merged instructional theory and assessment theory to develop the BBST® online instructional model. This workshop satisfies the Instructors’ Orientation Course requirement for prospective AST-certified instructors.

Key aspects of this course include:

  • Course structure and flow of an BBST® class
  • Course components
  • Overview of instructor’s tasks
  • Effective communication and feedback strategies
  • Assessments and grading strategies

PREREQUISITE: Successful completion of Foundations.

Learning Objectives

Too many testing courses emphasize a superficial knowledge of basic ideas. This makes things easy for novices and reassures some practitioners that they understand the field. However, it’s not deep enough to help students apply what they learn to their day-to-day work.

The BBST® series fosters a deeper level of learning by giving students more opportunities to practice, discuss, and evaluate what they are learning. The specific learning objectives will vary from course to course (each course will describe its own learning objectives).

It is important to recognize that the teaching material at the more basic levels (e.g. remembering, understanding) provides a weak foundation for higher-level work. Giving an exam that checks whether someone can remember or explain a concept tells you little or nothing about whether they can apply it, analyze or evaluate situations in terms of it, or create test materials using it. If you want to foster the use of what is learned at a level of cognitive depth, you have to teach to that level. If you want to find out whether your teaching was successful, you have to examine at that level.

This is what we strive to do with the BBST® Community Track courses.


To take our courses, you must agree to our policies and be prepared to commit your time:

  • Expect to spend at least 12 hours per week on each course.
  • Review the course policies.

The research underlying this course has been partially funded by grants from the National Science Foundation. Current NSF funding comes from NSF CCLI Award No. 0717613, “Adaptation & Implementation of an Activity-Based Online or Hybrid Course in Software Testing.” The views expressed in this course are those of the authors and instructors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.

The courses are based on the original BBST® materials from The Center for Software Testing Education & Research (CSTER) with additional study aids and support from live instructors. See Acknowledgements for more details.

BBST® is a registered trademark of Altom Consulting.