This is the 5th section of my post on BBST 4.0. The other parts are at:
- 1. Background: What is BBST. (If you are already familiar with BBST, skip this)
- 2. Differences Between the Core BBST Courses and Domain Testing
- 3. Learning Objectives and Structure of Foundations 3.0 (2010)
- 4. What We Think Should Change
BBST 3.0 was developed with support from the National Science Foundation. That funding supported many student assistants and the logistics of the Workshops on Teaching Software Testing. It also paid for a portion (substantial, but well under half) of the time Becky and I spent on BBST development and the equipment and software we used to create it. We also received financial support from the Association for Software Testing and from Florida Institute of Technology. We all understood and agreed that with this level of public support, BBST should be open source.
We also had a vision of BBST becoming self-supporting, like Linux. Some of our thoughts are published here and here and here. That was an ambitious idea. I pursue many ambitious ideas. Some become reality, others don’t. This one didn’t.
BBST 3.0 will continue to be available under a Creative Commons License. We expect some organizations will continue teaching it. We think it’s still a good course, and we’re proud of it. To increase the lifespan for BBST 3.0, we spent an enormous amount of time over the past three years creating the BBST Workbooks. These update the assessment materials and some of the content significantly. The time we spent on BBST 3.0 Workbooks was opportunity cost for BBST 4.0. With limited time, we couldn’t start BBST 4.0 until now (now that the Test Design Workbook has gone to press).
For the future, BBST has to become a traditional commercial course. We just don’t see a way to create it or teach it without charging for it. Becky and I created Kaner, Fiedler & Associates, LLC to take over the maintenance and evolution of BBST. This is a business. It needs income, which we can then spend on instructors and on BBST.
We would very much appreciate your guidance for BBST 4.0, but please understand that the help you give us is going to a commercial project, not to an open source one.
The most difficult two challenges in instructional design are:
- Assessment: Figuring out what the students understand, using activities (including exams) that help students learn more, and learn more deeply, during the assessment process
- Focus: Limiting the scope of the course so that you can (a) fit the material in without cramming it in and (b) teach the material deeply enough that the students can get practical value from it.
Moving the programming content into supplementary instruction makes room for more content. The new content that we think is most important is a sympathetic survey of test automation, but with a frank presentation of the limitations of the common oracles. (We’re going to rely heavily on a great survey by Knott.) We can’t fit everything in that we want to include. Intimately connected to automation, in our view, is discussion of career path. We can’t fit both into the course, there’s just not enough time. Our tentative decision is to make the career path segment supplementary — we’re pretty confident that people who want this will get to it and will get what value they can from it. The automation material will be harder, which means we should support it with assessment.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. BBST Foundations / Bug Advocacy / Test Design took almost 6000 hours of our development time (not counting the time spent on the workbooks). Foundations 4.0 will take a lot of effort. We’d like to produce something that creates value for the profession. Your guidance will make that more likely.