A yvrTesting Blog
In collaboration with EuroSTAR’s TeamSTAR Competition 2016, yvrTesting was excited to hold its September Meetup after a 2-month long summer break. Inspired by the theme “Learning to Test, Testing to Learn”, the event was a great way to get back into the testing groove as everyone returned to work from their summer vacations.
After thinking about what we wanted to do at the event, we realized that we wanted to know more about how our great network of testers learned everything they know about software testing. We were curious to know what learning methods worked best for them, what they felt were their most important skills as testers, and what they wish they could still learn more about. We realized that no matter how long you’ve been in the software testing industry, “It’s Never Too Late to Learn”.
Planning the Panel
We decided to bring together a panel that would be willing to interact with our questions surrounding the theme of “It’s Never Too Late to Learn”. To aid in this goal, we sent out a survey to our Meetup respondents prior to the event that would help shape discussion. We wanted to know the questions that were most important to them.
With the help of our Panel Mediator, Mike Hrycyk, Director of Quality at PQA Testing, our speakers turned out to be an extremely evocative and effective panel. Although we had one less panel member than we had intended, the mix was still very powerful. One panel member, Arash Taheri, was a team lead at Samsung who has completed various education certifications throughout his life so far. He has his Bachelor of Engineering, a Master of Engineering, a P.Eng, an MBA, a Scrum Master Designation, and a Scrum Product Owner Designation. Jim Peers was also a panelist. He has a dual PhD in Lasers and was in academia prior to entering testing 15 years ago. Finally, Sherry Otruba has been a high school science educator for a couple of decades, but is now pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Science with a Minor in Adult Education. She brought with her a fountain of information about education theory that helped us round out our discussion, and provide some greater context outside the software testing world.
Although attendee numbers were lower than usual due to the fact that people were just coming back from their time off, we still had 30 participants come to the Meetup on Wednesday, September 7, at 5:30 PM.
As attendees began to arrive, everyone was given a ticket in order to take part in a raffle. Four lucky winners would receive EuroSTAR tickets, if yvrTesting won the competition. In the meantime, the winners each received a copy of Gerald M. Weinberg’s, “Perfect Software: And Other Illusions About Testing”. It was great to see how excited everyone was by the prospect of being able to attend the EuroSTAR Conference 2016 after hearing about its reputation as Europe’s biggest software testing event.
During the panel we asked questions that were similar to those we had sent in the survey, and then used the survey responses to extend the discussion.
Our first question was “What is the first skill you think a tester should learn?”. The overwhelming first response to this question was “Critical thinking”. This was interesting because it led into a discussion about whether critical thinking is actually a teachable skill, or if it is innate and just needs to be brought out.
The second question, “What methods of learning have you found work best for you?” had a lot of heads nodding and agreeing with each other. Even though most people in the audience, and on the panel, have their own particular favorite method of learning, there was broad agreement over most of the forms. Mentoring and hands-on learning seemed to be the most effective methods to ensure help was available to new and upcoming testers.
The third question, “As a tester, what do you think you can teach other roles?” got an enthusiastic response from the audience. Testers really like to think that they can teach what they do to other people, and that their skills are important. This is of course true, but the enthusiasm for it was quite impressive. An interesting divergent discussion from a UX Designer who was present had us discussing how we could better interact with design, and how they could effectively interact with testers as well.
The final question of the evening had to be rushed because the previous discussions had gone so well. We asked the audience to “Name one skill you learned through testing that you’ve found to be useful in your personal life, outside of the context of testing”. This conversation was a little bit circular and tied the evening up nicely because it brought us back around to a similar list that we had encountered in the first question.
After the Meetup, the attendees were so enthused by the discussion that we moved as a large group to a nearby pub where we continued to discuss the matters at hand well into the evening.
Overall, it was another successful yvrTesting event. We were glad that the attendees were able to learn so much from one another in addition to sharing their expertise in a software testing, an industry about which we are all very passionate.