Friday, February 24, 2012

Foundations Flying Solo, Sort Of

It's almost Saturday, and it's the end of week three of the current BBST Foundations class being offered by AST. Yeah, I know, I've done this lots of times, but this class is a bit different. First, I think this is the first time a class has run without any input from Cem Kaner, Becky Fiedler or Doug Hoffman, at least that I am aware of. Second, this is the first stint where I'll be taking the reins of the entire monster that is BBST via AST, and from March 31st, 2012, it'll be all mine. That though is both exhilarating, and at the same time, absolutely terrifying.

Let me back up a bit here. For those who are familiar, the Black Box Software Testing classes were a joint effort developed by Cem Kaner and James Bach. The material that is presented was initially written by them and compiled over several years. It's been well researched, field tested, and run regularly for the past several years, always under Cem's watchful eye. Cem recorded all of the videos for the course, a huge undertaking and tremendously time consuming. In short, BBST has been shepherded by Cem and Becky for years. Both Cem and Becky have solid academic credentials, doctorates in different disciplines, and lots of background in academic circles. Still, after so many years, they decided it was time for someone else to handle the AST commitment to the BBST courses. That's where I come in, a guy who took twenty years to cobble together a bachelors degree, who has no higher credentials beyond that, and who, frankly, is much more comfortable speaking "dude" than he ever will be discussing or interacting with academia. Yet AST seems to believe that I'm a good bet for running this initiative, so I'm giving it my all.

Before anyone considers throwing a pity party for me (and really, I ain't asking ;) ), I have to say I've had a great staff this time around. Adriano Comai, Mohamed Lahrech and Ray Oei have been my partners in crime for this go around, and they have done a fantastic job keeping on top of everything, and sometimes that includes telling me when I'm forgetting something. Yeah, I'm their Lead Instructor, but they hardly need me there, to be frank. The group of participants this time around has been great. Sometimes there are challenges and clashes of personality (testers being difficult and nit picky?! Perish the thought (LOL!) ). Seriously, it's been a great group, and they've really been great.

Tomorrow at midnight, our final exam will be posted, and then we'll see if I and my band of brothers have pulled this off. It's scary to know you are taking over something that has been run by a man that's considered a legend in the testing community. For those about to head into the final exam, I wish you good vibes and I look forward to seeing your answers and commenting on them. For everyone else considering if they want to take any of the BBST classes, I of course hope you will. While I can't promise to be your instructor (though there's about four times this year that will be a good bet ;) ), I believe the volunteers who teach these classes are great, and I think your being involved with them will make for a very worthwhile month of your time. We may not be perfect, but we give it our all, and I think you'll see that. 


David Greenlees said...

Well done dude.
Just wondering... how do you think you'll measure if you were successful or not (in running the show)? On how the students went? Feedback? Keen to get your thoughts on that.

Michael Larsen said...

@David, generally we use things like student drop rates, overall completion statistics and user feedback to make that determination. Honestly, we won't know 'til all is said and done some time next week.