Software development, .Net, SQL Server, TDD, Agile, Community and other Odds and Sods
Mitch Wheat has been working as a professional programmer since 1984, graduating with a honours degree in Mathematics from Warwick University, UK in 1986. He moved to Perth in 1995, having worked in software houses in London and Rotterdam. He has worked in the areas of mining, electronics, research, defence, financial, GIS, telecommunications, engineering, and information management. Mitch has worked mainly with Microsoft technologies (since Windows version 3.0) but has also used UNIX. He holds the following Microsoft certifications: MCPD (Web and Windows) using C# and SQL Server MCITP (Admin and Developer). His preferred development environment is C#, .Net Framework and SQL Server. Mitch has worked as an independent consultant for the last 10 years, and is currently involved with helping teams improve their Software Development Life Cycle. His areas of special interest lie in performance tuning
Sunday, November 05, 2006
On Certifications, Learning and the ACS
Rob Farley’s series of blog posts (How they know you know , What’s wrong with IT?, On Learning) raise some excellent questions on how we could provide accurate and representative certifications in software development. Does the software development industry need a regulatory body? This is something the ACS has tried and so far failed to do, though I suspect they are doing this from a political motivation rather from a position of industry consensus.
Rob provides an analogy with the health industry but I think this is more like gaining your pilot’s license. You have to log a certain number of flying hours i.e. actual ‘on the job’ experience, recorded and logged and audited. Trainee surgeons perform minor surgery under the watchful eye of their mentors, and as their experience increases they perform increasingly complex and lengthy procedures. Trainee pilots fly dual control planes with their mentor in order to log sufficient flying hours (a friend with a pilot’s license assures me that PC flight simulators really do help you learn to fly!). So perhaps this is what the software industry is lacking. No one wants you flying a plane solo or whipping out an appendix if you don’t know what you are doing! But is the topic too broad and changing too quickly? Should we just favour people you have the ability to learn quickly, are enthusiastic and have the ability to get the job done?
I think Mitch Denny and Rob Farley made some excellent observations but I think they may have missed something when they talk about the digital native. The biggest problem digital natives face is not that they dislike learning or being taught, it’s that they do not like being held back in the rate of learning; education is set up to run at a pace slightly above (and one would hope above not below) the ‘class average’ and that syllabuses, teaching methods and rate, reflect this. If you are passionately interested in any topic, learning it will not seem like a chore and the rate of learning and retention is much higher.
The ACS has tried to be more relevant but does not seem to be succeeding (I won’t mention the pin-up calendar affair, nor that they are conspicuously silent in the blogosphere!). Maybe new, recruits like Rob can have a significant impact and I truly hope so; but deep down I’m a cynic and I believe they won’t make a substantial difference in the near term. Many people who have become involved with the ACS have commented on its heavy bureaucracy, and like politics, many people get involved eager to change things but slowly get absorbed by the existing command structure.
Personally, I’d love to have a mentor! I was about to say it’s probably too late for me but then I remembered this:
“Change favours the rich, the insider, the passionate and the downright lucky!” That’s enough raving from me…
UPDATE: Rob Farley let me know that the ACS mentoring scheme only applies to people in the Professional Development course run by the ACS. It doesn't apply automatically to all members.
MSN, Email: mitch døt wheat at gmail.com