I’m running for the AST board of directors

The AST board of directors election will be happening this year between August 11th and 13th during CAST2014. I will be running, along with 6 other well-qualified candidates, for one of the four open positions.

Why I am running:

AST has been a significant catalyst for me in personal and professional development. I first discovered this group through a colleague at a company around 2006 or so. He was taking Bug Advocacy at the time, and I could see very apparent changes in the way he was working that really made sense. I wanted in on that. That lead me to signing up as a member, taking Foundations, and then Bug Advocacy, and then Test Design. It was a rabbit hole that lead me to CAST and meeting other people that genuinely cared about their work. I want to return the favor that AST has given to me by serving the community that has done so much for me.

If elected, here is what I will focus on:

These are topics dear to me, but also, I think they are very important to the continuing development of software testing as a craft.

  1. BBST is hugely popular, especially Foundations and Test Design. Those two classes are consistently booked 100% full well before the class and have wait-lists for folks interested in taking that session if a registered student is unable. I would like to grow BBST to support this demand and begin offering those two classes more frequently. This means we need more assistant and lead instructors.
  2. There is a clear market demand for testers with a technical skill set. I would like to begin developing a class to help testers meet that market need, but also to improve their ability to test software by developing technical skill and understanding. The idea of what this class is is still being conceived, but I imagine programming concepts, databases, UNIX/Linux, shell scripting, performance and load testing concepts, and Chrome developer tools / Firebug are all fair game. This could be a survey course in the same way that Test Design is a survey course. If you are interested in this or care about the development of this material, please get in touch.
  3. WHOSE is an AST sponsored event dedicated to studying and advancing self-education in software testing. The first of these was held in Cleveland, OH December 5 – 7 2013 and the result was the first version of a skills book which will be published  shortly via AST. The skills book is intended to be a living document that is updated by practicing software testers. I want to see this become a yearly event with a concrete outcome each time. A yearly revised skills book could potentially result from this.

If these initiatives are important to you, vote for me and we will make these a reality.

Stepping up as EdSig Chair for AST

About a month ago, Michael Larsen sent me an email telling me he was planning to step away from his role as Chair of the Education Special Interest Group for AST. Michael was explaining that he had served for three years now, and thought his time had come to step back from EdSig in order to put more energy into SummerQAmp and the many other interests that he wants to pursue.

I read through the email, not feeling great about it. Michael has done a fantastic job and I’ve enjoyed working with him as an instructor in BBST courses that continue to exist and thrive because of EdSig. When I got to the bottom of the email, Michael asked if I would be interested filling the role that he was leaving.

Much like Michael, when I’ve been asked to do something new that stretches a fair bit past my skill set, I have the complete inability to say ‘no’. This new role will be an experience to learn and develop new skills but more importantly, to serve a role that I think is useful for other people. I am passionate about the service role of the tester, and I think the education mission of AST is well aligned with that.

Michael posted this to his blog and the AST blog (and the relevant AST discussion groups) this past Wednesday making this change official. While Michael is transitioning out of his role as EdSig Chair, he will not be leaving AST, or BBST, or SummerQAmp, or any of the programs he has done a great job developing and fostering. I’m sure Michael will be as present as he ever was, I’ll certainly be bugging him for advice and counsel occasionally.

If there are things you would like to see AST do that help support the mission of education for software testers, please let me know. I’d love to hear about authentic problems of practicing software testers and find ways for AST to help. Following in the footsteps of MIchael, and Cem before him, is a tall order. I’m looking forward to serving to the best of my abilities.

If you are going to be at CAST2014 in NYC this year, maybe we can talk in person.

My three months in BBST and ending radio silence

The last three or so months I’ve been a little more quiet than normal. Yep, even for my normal introverted level of quiet. I’ve happily committed a pretty sizable amount of time to the BBST Test Design, Instructors course, and co-instructing my first class for AST (Bug Advocacy).

The instructors class was really useful, mostly in the sense that it gave a good base of education theory and also in the sense that it gave a good method of communicating with students. The one area I found lacking in the course was how instructing works practically. Things like class flow, how to do certain common things within moodle, how much or little to interact with students, and so on. Some of this was resolved while co-instructing for the first time which I’ll speak to in a bit. Overall though, the class was a pleasure and very informative. The instructors manual created by Dr. Kaner, Dr. Fiedler, and Doug Hoffman was wonderful, useful during the instructors course and even more so for my first time co-instructing.

On to my first time co-instructing a class. Though the students have finished their parts of the classwork, there is still work to be done by the instructors. I participated minimally his time and frankly felt lost quite often despite talking with the other instructors. It seems like this is a common experience for first timers though. Learning the administrative side of moodle as well as figuring out my role as a co-instructor was trying. The experiences in the first class should make the next classes much better. That’s a good thing since I plan to lead classes eventually. I think early communication with new instructors and having some set of tasks specifically for new instructors to ease them in would go a long way to make that experience better. Actually, just something listing typical tasks that new instructors are generally successful with would be helpful. I aspire to participate much more for the next class which is in January if memory serves.

Oh! I’m also really excited to be helping with TWiSt an an editor. I edited my first episode this past week. If you haven’t listened yet, you can download the mp3 here. Free registration is required.

BBST Test Design review

The second BBST Test Design course wrapped up this past weekend. Figured I would give a little review while it is still fresh on my mind. Test Design (in my opinion) was the most difficult and time consuming of the BBST courses. Like foundations and bug advocacy, it was recommended that a student spend up to 14 hours per week on the class. I may have gone a little bit over that.

As Michael Larsen said, this class is like drinking from a fire hose. Test design is a survey course and as such it is intended to be that way. My main take aways from this course were practical usage of the James Bach HTSM (mapped out in xmind), practical experience in risk based testing, and a thorough overview of domain testing. Many other test techniques were mentioned (survey course, remember?) but these were the focus.

The BBST instructors course starts October 10th. I’m registered for that and ready to get started.

A short diversion.
I have started doing some skype coaching for miagi-do. So far, I have focused on socratic coaching by picking some topic and just talking it over and meandering however feels right. I’d like to mix it up and try some more practical challenge based sessions as well though. If you have experience with software coaching over skype, I’d be love to hear your story.