Achievement unlocked: RSTA

Landscape of testing related courses is problematic. On one hand, there are lots of courses. On the other hand, there are few courses I would consider. Either they are lackluster and certificate-centered, or entry-level-only, or mind-bogglingly expensive. And about the last bit. Many say that if a company provide a training budget, costs don’t matter. Well, maybe if that company is one of FAANG, you can think so. But I work in a small one and I don’t want to throw its (our?) money away.

Nevertheless, there are always some courses and trainings which you just want to attend to. For example, those from Satisfice, Inc. That’s why I applied as soon as I saw time convenient online version of Rapid Software Testing Applied. And, BTW, the price was decent.

I don’t want to write about the course agenda and curriculum: google is your friend. I will neither sing praises to its appeal and importance nor criticize its materials. We can argue as much as we like on should testers be able to code or not, but the knowledge of who James Bach and Michael Bolton are can be a mark of competency (necessary but not sufficient). And based on this knowledge, I think, it’s quite obvious what you can expect from such course. I also won’t describe what I learned: the most useful attainments are tacit and will surface in future work and articles.

So, this article is about technical moments. My previous place of work, Quality Lab, provides trainings, and from there I’ve discovered an interest in learning and comparing processes used in education.

RSTA was held September 18-20, completely online. It was nice that we used Mattermost for communications; I used this open source messenger before. Usually, it’s always scary how courses handle linux users: sometimes they require skype (which became quite awful) or webinars are streamed with god knows what. Here everything was ok, linuxhead’s feelings were not offended.

After the course we received all materials, not just slides and recordings, but also:

  • Agenda & log
  • Recordings
  • Class materials (like slides and articles to read)
  • Session reports with attachments (with comments by instructor)
  • Bug list (with comments and attachments)
  • Group chats archive

Last part is really awesome. I, like a fool, sat and copied all important messages. Even woke up during the night realizing I forgot to save some PDFs. And it turned out not to be a problem at all, because I have the whole archive now. Super.

One thing I would change is a duration: three days for “Applied” is too fast. You’d want more practice. For example, double all assignments, where the first time would be a “learning” and the second time — “reinforcement and revision”. Reporting assignments would be a great addition too. Also, it would be interesting to intensify students' cooperations: working in teams was possible, but wasn’t required. What if there was one obligatory assignment for paired testing?..

Our group, as I understand, was smaller than usual. But for me it was an upside, because I read all assignments and bug reports. As usual, some students were more active than others: big shoutout for them for questions and discussions!

Overall atmosphere was pleasant. I noticed that in some other courses instructors were present only as talking heads in the pre-recorded videos and names in the ads. Not in this case. James answered questions himself and commented on assignments and bugs; peers advisors only helped.

Active students, honest instructor and peer advisors are the most significant qualities for me. We go to the training to get out from our bubble; the more communications and sharing we get, the more valuable is this experience. And RSTA definitely fulfilled this expectation.