Reshaping Software Testing Training
Sarah Deery
2nd May 2022

Let’s Co-create An Open-Source Curriculum!

As many of you know, Ministry of Testing’s motto is “co-creating smarter testing.” And true to our motto, the testing community helps build all the amazing things we offer and do. So it made sense for our new venture in revolutionising Software Testing education (yeah, we’re that bold!) that we’d do it in collaboration with the community. Not only that, but we firmly believe the community's involvement will result in more relevant and useful training.

Why Does Training Need Shaking Up?

A common problem with vocational education and training in many sectors, including testing, is that the content and qualifications aren’t sufficiently relevant to the real-world vocation. Learners complain that they lose sight of the job during their studies. And companies complain that learners are not adequately trained to fulfil their roles. In our opinion, these issues lie at the heart of vocational training programmes; the curricula. Curricula are often too rigid and slow to evolve to changes in industry whilst also being written and influenced by stakeholders who are too far removed from the day-to-day job. All of which results in vocational training programmes that are not fit for purpose.

So, What Makes a Successful Vocational Curriculum?

The success of a vocational curriculum depends mainly on two things; at the end of the programme:

  1. Learners can get a job in a relevant role.

  2. Learners can perform their role successfully.

Sounds simple and obvious! And yet many vocational training programmes fail to meet these goals. You’ll have likely heard that some folks with vocational training certificates and experiences don’t regularly use what they learned to carry out their job. This can leave learners feeling unprepared for their role and dissatisfied with their learning experience. It can also cause frustration for employers.

Ministry of Testing’s Revolutionary Plan

So, what are we going to do differently to solve the disparity between training and vocation? We will collaborate with and talk to folks who do the day-to-day job. And that’s more revolutionary than you’d think. 

Typically, folks involved in creating vocational curricula are internal stakeholders at training institutions consisting of learning designers and subject matter expert teachers. Additionally, there is usually somewhat patchy input from external stakeholders at individual businesses, industry organisations or professional bodies. These folks are often in managerial and learning coordination positions. While all these perspectives are important to capture, they don’t paint the complete picture. We’re missing the insights from folks who arguably know the role better than anyone else, the folks doing the actual job. And this is where we will focus our efforts; we will capture the day-to-day insights and feedback of people who do the job and use this as the backbone of our curricula development.

Our Curricula Development Plan

The most essential feature of curricula development is that it’s data-driven. Various pertinent data should drive all decisions around what training is needed and what content to include. For our curricula development, we will collect data on the target learner and the nature of the target role in question. We will conduct three types of analysis: 

  1. Needs Analysis to find out the training needs of our target learners. 

  2. Job Analysis to break down the complexity of the job into unique tasks.

  3. Task Analysis to discover what each task entails.

This research will be carried out using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods including surveys, and semi-structured individual and group interviews with the testing community. We’ll publish all our results publicly on The Club forum for community members to critique and give feedback. For more details on the development process, see our Curriculum Development Plan.

Other Key Features Of Our Curricula

  • Authentic - our curricula will focus on the real-world roles with relevant tasks, knowledge, skills, and attitudes. All evaluation of outcomes will focus on learners being able to complete relevant tasks in real-world scenarios.

  • Dynamic - Our curricula will be responsive to changes in the world of work. Provisions will be made for regular curricular revisions and modifications. 

  • Future-orientated - Considerations into what may happen in the future will be made. As decisions are being made about curriculum content and, more importantly, the structure, we’ll consider how these decisions may affect future curriculum development.

  • Learner-orientated - A curriculum must meet the needs of the learner. We will take steps to understand the target learners and identify their specific needs and gaps to be prepared for the role.

  • Open-Source - This is a critical feature for MoT. Large numbers of the community will help build and maintain our curricula, so the results should be available to all. And, whist the content we create from our curricula will predominantly be for our Pro members (a must for a bootstrapped business that pays its content creators fairly), the curricula themselves will be available for anyone to read, follow and create content for. Hopefully, this will result in an improvement in software testing training across the board. The open-source nature will also help maintain authentic and dynamic curricula as they can be constantly critiqued and changed as and when the industry develops and changes.

We’re Starting With An Automation Curriculum

With so many different domains and specialist areas within Software Testing, it was tricky to know where to start. But with the creators of Automation in Testing working at MoT, it was a bit of a no brainer to begin our co-curriculum experiment with Automation. This way we can tweak and perfect our curriculum development process before we roll it out and collaborate deeply with other thought leaders and specialists.

How To Get Involved

So far in the Automation Curriculum project, we have conducted the needs analysis and jobs analysis and you can read about our results in our report. From this research, we created a jobs profile containing all the tasks an “Automation Engineer in Testing” would complete that you can review and critique on The Club forum. And we are now conducting our Task analysis to discover what each task entails.

So if you work in Automation and want to help revolutionise Automation Training, please register for our task analysis events below. These sessions are interactive and require you to get involved and share your experience of working in Automation. All methods and experiences are welcome to create an authentic and robust automation curriculum.