After my last blog entry I got a question from Martin about how the BBST Foundation course compares to James Bach’s Rapid Software Testing course. As Martin is probably my most faithful reader (I can prove that he has read my blog twice :-)) I will of course comply to his request as best I can.
ASTs BBST Foundation course is a basic introduction to black box testing. It introduces some basic concepts and approaches for testing. During the four weeks of the course the students view several video lectures, read a few papers or articles related to the topics discussed, and participate in group discussions to answer assignments given. During the course there are quizzes to help the student evaluate his or her understanding of the topics discussed, and there are separate forums for discussing or asking questions.
In the end there is an exam to be answered in essay form as opposed to multiple choice.
An important part of the course is that every student will review the answers both from the other groups and also the exam from two of their fellow students. These discussions and reviews makes for an excellent opportunity to learn about the topics discussed but also to gain insight about how people interpret things differently.
Due to these factors the “experienced” tester (or manager, or whatever) should not be discouraged from attending just because of the fact that it is a “foundations” course. And of course, it is a prerequisite for the later courses from AST.
The Rapid Software Testing course by James Bach , in the words of James himself, “…introduces you to rapid software testing, a complete testing methodology designed for a world of barely sufficient resources, information, and time.” Follow the link above for more details about Rapid Testing and the course itself.
My impression is that the exact content of the course will change somewhat depending on the students on that particular session. Topics are discussed and questions, or challenges, are not only welcome but encouraged. The result can be that matters that is more important to the students gets a more thorough treatment (I have only attended this once so I might of course be wrong about this). In addition to the lecturing and discussions there are a few well placed exercises and challenges to keep the audience on its toes.
While I’m sure any tester would benefit from this course, I’m sure James adjusts things on the fly to make the most of the time, my personal view would be that it is more of an advanced course and that you would be able to get more out of it if you have some real life experience to relate the discussion to.
Both courses emphasize the importance of critical thinking and the value of good communication. They are founded on the idea that testing is indeed a mental challenge and not some brain-dead zombie task. Your skills and knowledge are great assets, so build them and use them.
Now, Martins question was regarding how the two courses compare to each other. My take on this is that while the BBST Foundation course provide building blocks for test design and execution, the RST course provides more ideas and suggestions for how to make the most of your tools and building blocks in the action packed life as a tester.