Session Based Learning

Software Testing

Last week at BREWT1, a peer conference in Belgium, I was talking to Simon Tomes about an idea his new tool TestBuddy had triggered:

Session Based Learning Management.

Let me first introduce you to Simon and his project. Simon is a wonderful human being who’s mission in life is to raise the spirits of everyone around him just a little bit higher. With years of experience, he’s become pretty darn effective at it. #GoEncourage is his mission to see things positively and communicate as such. As a tester, he’s found it especially helpful for his developer-tester relationships.

TestBuddy is his Simon’s and Rajit Singh‘s brainchild. From the way thin

gs are looking, this will become the go-to application for Session Based Test Management. Centralising your charters, your missions, your team and giving an overview of what’s done and is still on the stack. I’ve had the privilege to watch their journey and am eager to see it evolve further.


What do we have to learn

The idea that sparked me to talk to Simon was that their tool could very effectively be ‘abused’ to guide team learning.
Imagine being on a team that kept a backlog of ‘what do we have to learn’, the same way we have charters that guide us in ‘what do we have to test’. Same concept, different goals.

Imagine sitting in a planning meeting that would outline skills, information, books, videos,… that must/should/could be explored. Having those ‘learnings’ split up in charters that work the same way as you’d test an application:

Plan your learnings:

  1. As a team, pinpoint a skill, piece of knowledge,… needed by the team
  2. Explore the skill to get a basic overview (a first charter?)
  3. Outline what the absolute basis is to start building from
  4. Identify what outside help/tools/resources you need
  5. Try to plan a step-by-step pathway of learning consisting of several charters

For every charter:

  1. State your mission of learning and describe what a successful session would look like
  2. Whenever you see opportunity to have a sidetrack, create a new charter for it
  3. Use the time of the session to learn in function of the charter mission.
  4. Debrief with the team: What have you learnt and what can you teach?

Using Jon Bach‘s PROOF model:

P: How did you go about your learning journey?
R: What can you identify as having learnt?
O: What stood in the way of learning?
O: Did you see sidetracks or uncover new steps to explore?
F: Does the learning path still feel valuable? Would you abandon/change/evolve the pathway?

Notice how the process guides you through different learning phases?
Explore, Draw, Internalise, Debate. 

I could see a wonderful learning path for the whole team using this method. In the long term, there’s nothing making us happier than to learn something new.

Working together to gather new insights, collaborate on setting learning goals and sharing acquired knowledge,… I image would be an incredibly strong psychological, emotional and fulfilling journey for any one team.

What do you think? Could this be something you could apply in your project? How much time would the team be able to invest in this per day, week, sprint?


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