How we took over the experience of Khan Academy and made our course for testers
Kontur annually launches free programming courses for students in Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, Izhevsk, Perm and Kazan. Since 2013, we have grown to 7 cities and 13 universities, we have developed our online platform ulearn.me , where since February 2018 there are courses not only for C # developers, but also a course for testers.
It was about him that we spoke with Katya Chaplinskaya, development manager and course organizer. Katya told what chips are waiting for cadets this year, how the training went and what prospects the course has.
Katya, tell us in a nutshell what kind of course is this?
- This is the fifth course for beginners, which introduces students to the basics of testing. Traditionally, at the end of February, we recruit a group of about 30 students and young professionals. Such a small group makes it possible to pay attention to each cadet, and teachers are not tired, checking homework. According to past experience, we assume that 10-15% of students will not reach the end of the course, so the group will be reduced further. Classes began on February 22, all of which will be held on Maloprudnaya twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The course will end before the May holidays, because in mid-May cadets do not have time for classes =)
What new have you come up with this time?
- This year we recorded the entire theoretical course on ulearn.me and opened it for general access. It turned out 16 topics that our students will study at home, and devote classes in the office to practice.
This format of training is called “inverted” or “learning the other way around”. It is used by Khan Academy , their experience has inspired our company. This format frees teachers and students from the routine of lectures, replacing standard classroom lectures with video and mini-tasks at home. At the beginning of the course, students receive the first set of assignments and a link to theoretical material. A week later, they meet with the teacher to discuss the material studied, go through homework and get new assignments and a link. And so every week - new material, tasks and practice.
The format of “inverted learning” was proposed several years ago by Pasha Egorov, head of the training department, only we gave the theory in the form of links to articles, books or webinar notes. A couple of years ago, we thought it would be cool to refer not to third-party sources, but to record all the videos for the course ourselves.
And how did the work on the video go? As far as I know, recording a video lesson is not so easy.
- Yes, at first it was not easy. A few years ago, we recorded videos in a makeshift studio in the office with the help of a program written by students, which sometimes made a big difference. But the most difficult thing was working on camera. In 2016, we recorded only 4 topics for the entire video course, 2 of mine, and one each from Oli Musikhina and Nastya Ronzhina, and this process took a lot of time and energy.
We were still eager to write down all the topics of the theoretical course, and did not want to give up. Then we thought, what if we find a person who confidently keeps in front of the camera, a sort of face of the course? That face was Dima Yakin. In early May 2017, we started work on a new course, it seemed time wagon. But we did not take into account that it was very difficult for a person who had never taught testing to be immersed in working with a live audience to talk about our topics. You can’t just take and record a video course with someone who did not teach it in reality! We recorded several videos with Dima, but they were not easy for us either.
Where did you find the teachers who still hold well in front of the camera?
- There were 11 teachers, some of them would like to teach the course, but did not have experience. Then we decided to conduct testing workshops for contourists. So we kill two birds with one stone: we introduce employees to the basics of testing and rehearse the course topics in front of a live audience. When a teacher works out a topic in front of an audience, he can easily record a video lesson.
How are your classes going now, is the difference already visible?
- The symbiosis of video on ulearn and practical exercises is a drive. It helps to get closer to the cadets, it is a pleasure. When cadets come to classes prepared, the practice is simply amazing. We can make out many interesting tasks, share our impressions. We got rid of the tedious chewing of material at the board, and got a lively dialogue, even a game. Cadets and teachers leave the class happy, sometimes they linger in order to ask questions more and more and discuss the topic among themselves.
What other news await cadets?
- Over the last two courses we have honed the sequence of classes. Now we have built it in the likeness of how it is done in ISTQB . This is a worldwide certification program for testers. We have pronounced blocks: for example, testing tools and testing methods. We talked about the approaches of the white and black box, the ammunition of the tester. The topic “Test development process” appeared, where we described in detail how the tester thinks, how he prepares, and where he starts.
We pay great attention to practice. At the end of the course, the Big Practice will traditionally take place - these are three classes in which the guys will test the real application - Diadok's promotional site .
Why this course is for students is understandable. Everyone wants to learn from Contour professionals. But what about the circuit itself?
- The course helps to find sensible testers for internships or immediately to the team. And it's not just about those who took the course. For example, this year we received a test task from a real professional. The girl who sent him was already at a very high level, and our course simply would not suit her - she already knows all this. We try to invite such people for an interview, our hangouts, not to lose sight of them. Work on the course also pumps the teachers themselves. While explaining the topic, you can look at it from different angles, see what you did not notice during work.
What are the prospects for the course, plans, will you capture the world?
- We hope that the course at ulearn will become a base, a kind of franchise, for teachers in other cities of Contour. Of course, we will enrich it with notes for teachers, manuals, but it can already be considered a full-fledged course. Any tester of a company not even from Yekaterinburg can start teaching our course in his city. And, of course, we are waiting for everyone next year for the new course of “Software Tester”. Follow the news and you will not miss it!
Contour not only creates its online courses, but also supports external authors and developers. Ulearn.me already has courses in programming, design, security, several short courses for experienced developers. If you have a cool idea for a new course - come to us !