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Educating the new generation of software testers

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First things first – there was never an extended and formal curriculum available for prospective software testers to follow. Yes, there were several initiatives, some of them still exist today, but we, as industry, have never come to some kind of agreement on what is necessary to learn. So, people are left on their own, and learn through experiences – sometimes with guidance, sometimes without.

Having this in mind, how do we pretend to educate the new generation of software testers? Isn’t it a bit pretentious to claim to have the proper pathway? As everything in this world, there is no magical formula – this is our point of view, based on our experiences and what we see is happening around us. Having said that, here we go!

From the very beginning of the software development, the need for testing has been present. And, as it seems, it was always a challenge to decide for “soft” and how “hard” this discipline actually is. Do software testers need to educate themselves in purely software engineering subjects or should they focus on analysis, communication, critical thinking, etc.? And this is not at all new question – we come from long tradition of (apparent and real) disagreements, so no wonder software testing has never found its space in formal education.

From one side we have strong focus on bug detection, formal testing techniques and other related subjects. Books have been written, investigations have been performed, courses have been designed – with one goal in mind: enabling testers execute the most meaningful tests in less time and find many, many bugs. However, from our experience as consultants very few testers actually have theoretical knowledge about testing and test design techniques, what to say about putting them in practice in their daily work. So maybe, testing is more than just applying right technique at the right moment …

Technological advancements quickly showed the need for even more engineering. If we ask people today what is testing, way too many will answer “automation”. Most likely meaning “front end test automation with Selenium, imitating user actions”. In every single software testing conference, we have attended in past 10 years, there is at least one talk about “how to succeed with your test automation with Selenium”. And the first book about test automation has been written long, long time ago, and we are still struggling. Clear hint that testing, and particularly automation is more than just this…

There is another trend in software testing saying “yes, all of that is testing, why would we want to separate?” which totally makes sense, doesn’t it? But that’s not all – the focus goes towards inside, towards the person, the practitioner and learned, instead of outside, towards techniques, technology and tools. Seeing the current trends, seems that we, as industry, are finally realizing that yes – testing practitioner should be in the centre. Both soft and hard skills are required, but the brain power must be above all of it. Testing is a blend of many things, but without considering the tester (or whatever we will call ourselves in future) as a key piece in the whole testing process, without the creative capacity that they have, strong introspection, analytical skills, capacity to map and model complex scenarios – no tool will be able to do the work for us. Yes, not even ChatGPT!

We can claim, without being pretentious, that the key to educating software testers of new generation is to return to the essence of human creativity and the real power of our minds.

And with this in mind, we have created a Software Testing Academy, focusing on the learner, on the practitioner, educating them for the future in the usage of the most important tool ever – out own brain.

Stay tuned for our pilot program to be released during the 2023!

POV by @Tomislav Delalic, Head of Center of Excellence of QA Testing in @Amaris Consulting

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