Software teams, agile teams, in particular, are well aware of the need for their developers, testers, product owners, and other team members to collaborate. The usual selection of agile ceremonies creates space for people sharing the planning of the work: planning meetings, product backlog refinement meetings, three amigos sessions for coming up with acceptance examples, and daily meetings just to mention a few. For much of the rest of the time, people are hunched over their own keyboards and screens, working on their own tasks – more so in the time of forced remote work. Even if developers work with each other doing pair programming, testers often work on their own.
The BBST Foundations course is a very challenging course, on many levels. For me, it was a full 4 weeks of learning how to learn, how to organize better and how to stay on top of things. This course offers you many learning opportunities and a lot of useful information. In order to benefit from this as much as you can, you’ll need to put effort not only into going through the materials and assignments but also into paying attention to some of the aspects I’m going to describe below.
A lot of projects and companies nowadays no longer have dedicated testers. That doesn’t mean they no longer do testing; they simply share the responsibility of testing inside a development team. Testing becomes an activity that everyone in the team does, but there’s also a strong focus on automation and trying to create large regression suites that cover as much as possible from the overall functionality of the application.
I’ve also seen automated scripts created in several contexts where the people creating them were focused on solving the programming challenges, but they seemed to overlook one key element: how to make their tests powerful. There were lots of hours involved, lots of tools and frameworks, lots of lines of code, but there was little understanding of the application and superficial interest in what the tests will find and cover. So the teams put a lot of effort in creating extensive automated test suites but the question that remained was “Do they bring enough value?”
In each course, you will be asked to review and provide feedback on assignments written by other students. The instructors will monitor your comments and will assign grades. Peer-to-peer feedback is very important in these courses:
- It gives you a way to switch roles from creator to evaluator, which will help you more objectively evaluate your own work.
- It can help you see opportunities to improve your work, by seeing patterns of problems in the work of other students.
- It provides feedback to students from several sources, rather than from one instructor. Peer feedback is more credible to some students than instructor feedback.
- Most important, careful evaluation of the questions and comments of other students gives you another type of opportunity to step back from your work and reflect on what the course is teaching.
Student work in each of the BBST courses will be reviewed and evaluated by the instructors as well as peer-reviewed by other students.
Each course will include several assessments, quizzes, assignments, and an exam. Each assessment has a primary objective. Here are typical examples of what we might be trying to achieve with a specific assignment:
- evaluate the student’s performance and make a decision if she/he has successfully completed the course or not yet.
- help the student identify strengths and gaps in knowledge and skill
- give the student practice working through a specific type of problem or task
- help the instructor understand where the course is failing to motivate the students or to help them learn
- motivate the students to spend a little more time, effort, or attention on favored tasks
Online students attend and participate in classes by logging in to the course web site and participating in the discussions. To succeed online, it is essential that you:
- log in to the course several times a week;
- read and respond to course-related emails on time;
- participate in the course discussions as outlined by your instructor;
- complete all assigned work on time; and
- ask for help if and when you need it.
Active participation is particularly important in the BBST courses because we have set them up to last three weeks each. If you fall significantly behind, you miss the course.
If you do testing, and recognize how cognitively rich the activities involved in testing are, you probably also recognize the importance of testing skills.
On all the projects I’ve contributed to, good testing, deep testing, involved skills. Asking a random person from the street to test on the project would probably not have led to spectacular results (unless, of course, they happen to be an exquisite tester with awesome testing skills!). Developing those skills requires a lot of work.
- By Alexandra Casapu
- September 15, 2016
If you have completed BBST Foundations, congratulations! You can now move on to a more hands-on part of the BBST series, starting with evaluating bug reports in the Bug Advocacy course module.
Compared to Foundations, this module is much more focused on practical exercises. You get to work on live bug reports of open-source applications. You can actually contribute to the documentation of these bugs.
The most appreciated feature of the course is the interactive grading session. In contrast to Foundations, this session happens halfway through the course: you get feedback for an assignment, instead of the final exam. This way, your instructors will provide feedback that you can apply immediately on a subsequent assignment.