Monday, August 3, 2015

CASTing my Line into Mind Maps - Live from #CAST2015

Today the rubber meets the road. We are going live today with CAST 2015, breakfast has happened, the setup for all of the bags and badges has happened, the tables are manned, the food is being served, and the prep work for the webCAST is happening now (which I do not have any real involvement with other than to be grateful that it is happening and that Ben, Dee and Paul are making it happen).

Monday at CAST is tutorial day, and since the participants pay extra for the content, I have traditionally not done a play by play of these sessions, but I will talk a bit about why I chose to be in the one I am in and what my role is in being here. I'll also talk a bit of my own observations around the topic without repeating Sekar's presentation. Also, to be kind to my readers, I will split these posts up into different posts, since many have said it's hard to follow a big long post throughout the day.

First off, each of us who are on the board and attending a tutorial are doing so as the room helper or facilitator for the tutorial. One of the things I asked all of us on the board who wanted to participate to do was to work the back channels for the event. Since there was a limited number of seats for each tutorial, we wanted to make sure that the participants in the conference go the first chance to be there. We also made sure that each of us picked a different tutorial to be part of so that we would be able to evaluate the individual sessions and be able to report back from each of them as to their effectiveness, and things we could learn to help the next year's organizers with choosing and developing solid sessions.

There are four sessions being offered this year for tutorials:

Christin Wiedemann is leading a tutorial called "Follow your Nose Testing - Questioning Rules and Overturning Convention

Dhanasekar Subramanian is leading a tutorial called "Mobile App Coverage Using Mind Maps"

Robert Sabouring is leading a tutorial called "Testing Fundamentals for Experienced Testers"

Fiona Charles is leading a tutorial called "Speaking Truth to Power: Delivering Difficult Messages"

Since we all opted to spread ourselves around the tutorial choices to be the room helpers and facilitators, I chose to work with Sekar and be part of the "Mobile App Coverage Using Mind Maps" tutorial. One of the reasons I chose to focus on this tutorial was that I have seen a variety of mindmaps used by people over the years, and I tend to focus on a fairly simplistic use of them. For me, I tend to use a core concept, and branch a few ideas off the core, and then break them down to a few words in the branches. If I need more depth, rather than make complex mind maps, I will usually just create a new mind map with another concept. the idea of having multiple branches on the same map just feels messy to me, but at the same time, having to jump to multiple maps is also messy.

Sekar's tutorial is covering two concepts at the same time. The first is giving participants a chance to work with mind maps who may not have done so in the past. The second part is testing with mobile apps and categorizing the details of the app. the benefit to using Mind Maps in the process of testing is less the rigid use of the tool and more of idea that each core concept can have several points where we can branch off.

One of the fun things we do in these tutorials is get everyone on the same page and playing with the discussions. In this tutorial we are encouraged to break into groups and discuss a variety of topics. For mine I chose music, and what I find interesting with mind maps is not so much what we add to the mind map, but why we add them. My map for music was broken into Instruments, Songs, Genres and Modes. Why did I choose those? Possibly because I am a musician, and those are the things I think about. My guess is that a casual listener might not even know that modes exist, so they wouldn't include it as part of their breakdown.

It's time for our morning break, so I'm going to call and end to this post. I'll be back with another one in a bit. Thanks for joining me today :).

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