Issue 39

Become a better tester with BBST

Monica Rațiu
Marketing Specialist @ Altom


Which is the last thing you've read in order to improve your testing knowledge? How do you exercise the necessary skills in your activity?

Just as in other work fields, it is important for testers to be in continuous learning mode, in order to adapt to the new concepts that the technologic advance brings along, but also to improve their approaches, techniques and testing practices in a competitive environment. Change of perspectives is a daily routine in an environment that is constantly evolving, so professionals need to be up-to-date with paradigm changes that take place in their work field. 

An important aspect in everyone's career is represented by the skills developed along the way. Working in testing, we know how important it is for the testers to benefit from continuous development in order to be up-to-date with new technologies, but also to be able to communicate properly with their partners when encountering issues.

Until some years ago, the possibilities for testers to develop new skills were quite limited, but Cem Kaner came up with a solution: alternative courses that don't make students only memorize certain terms that they don't actually understand, but they also go into details that make students develop their critical thinking. The solutions that are offered are not generally valid, but the key aspect in all this is a deeper understanding of the context in which the testing process takes place.

These courses that have been created and are continuously developed by Cem Kaner and Rebecca Fielder are BBST aka the Black Box Software Testing.

How are these courses different? We will tell you:

After presenting a series of benefits that the BBST courses have, it is high time to tell you what is taught during these courses. Each course is carefully designed to build up skills which will be used in subsequent courses, so each one is a prerequisite for the next. This way we aim at providing the most effective learning experience for our students and to help them practice their skills so that they are ready to apply them when faced with challenges in their testing work.

The first course of the series is BBST Foundations, which is organized around four critical challenges in software testing: what the mission of a testing effort is and how the project strategy helps achieve that mission; how a tester can determine whether or not the program has passed a test; what the key challenges in developing and using software metrics are; how we can measure the amount of testing that has been done and estimate the amount of testing that remains and how we can decide when to stop testing.

The next course is BBST Bug Advocacy, which helps develop skills in effective bug reporting. The course applies lessons from sales, psychology and law in order to help students understand and present their reports more credibly and more persuasively and also to better assess the quality of troubleshooting and the effectiveness of reports written by staff or colleagues. Throughout this course, students will get to review and report bugs for a real and well-known software product and will practice hands-on their bug reporting skills.

The third is BBST Test Design. After supplying an overview of seventy-five test techniques, the students will do a more deep analysis of six of them: function testing and testing tours, risk-based testing, scenario testing, spec-based testing, domain testing and combinatorial testing. All these lay a solid foundation for context-appropriate test planning.

Which are the main activities that are held during the courses?

First of all, orientation activities, time in which the student is having a review on different themes before seeing the lesson, in order to analyze different context and ask questions before seeing the answers presented in the lesson.

The second activity is applying the techniques students have dealt with during the sessions.

The third activity is the quizzes that help students consolidate the terms and prove that they have actually understood what they've learned. Even though the quizzes are evaluated by the instructors, the grades are not part of the final evaluation.

Discussions are also part of the process: whether they are interpersonal (between the student and the instructor), or group ones, they are important for brainstorming and exchanging impressions on what everyone understood on a certain topic.

At the end of each course series, students have to take a test and the grading will be interactive. The instructors are Ru Cindrea, Alexandra Casapu and Gabi Dobritescu, each of them gaining this title by taking the BBST series and the Instructors' course, working closely with Cem Kaner and Rebecca Fiedler.

One important detail for the courses is the length: they spread over four weeks, as we already mentioned, they take place on-line, giving flexibility to the students and enough time to understand terms and concepts related to testing. Completion of the full course series is rewarded by a printed certificate signed personally by the instructors.

Another plus of the BBST courses is that the number of students is limited, rising the degree of interaction between the students and the instructors, as well as between students. This is way better than having a class composed of hundreds of students.

This November brings along a new BBST Foundations series, giving the opportunity to another group of students to discover a new side and perspective of testing.

Altom is offering to a Today Software Magazine reader the opportunity to take the BBST Foundations course for free by participating in a contest: post on Facebook or Twitter your expectations from this course using #BBSTAltom. Deadline for the contest is October 12!

Disclaimer: Ex-participants to the BBST Foundations courses organized by Altom cannot participate in this context.




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