Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Thought on Certification

Yesterday at 1DevDayDetroit, Virender Ajmani gave a very interesting talk about Google Map mashups. (If you missed his talk, check out his blog or download his slides.

Besides his very interesting content, he mentioned something that else that caught my attention - the Google Qualified Developer program. It's a different approach to the question of developer certification (which I know is a hot topic in the Agile world in general and at the Agile Skills Project in particular). Google's program is free, and it focuses on accomplishments, references, community participation, and knowledge. If you become certified, you get a badge for your blog.

To be certified in a particular Google API (Chrome extensions, Maps, etc.), a developer must earn at least 3000 of the available 5000 points towards that API in any. She/he can earn points in the following ways:
- showing proof of their work (working code) - up to 1000 points
- providing references (from paying clients) - up to 1000 points
- demonstrate community participation - up to 1000 points
- take the online exam - up to 2000 points

What I like about this approach is that no one type of mastery is enough to earn certification. For instance, a developer who aces the exam can not be certified without other evidence of their competence.

I wonder what an Agile badge in this style would be like.

There are already Scrum exams. Perhaps taking one of them would earn some points. There would be a cap on how many points could be earned through exams, and exam points might expire after a certain time.

I'm not sure how working code is necessarily any indication of someone's skill in Agile, so I think we'd have to come up with something else.

Attending certain classes might be worth points. I know there's been a lot of talk about how taking a class doesn't necessarily mean a person learned anything, and I agree. So perhaps any given class would be only worth a small amount, say 200-300 points, and it would only count if you had taken the course in the past year, and only 1000 points could be earned by attending classes.

Certainly some Agile developers could provide references from customers, and capping the number of points from references would reduce the chance and affect of quid pro quo referrals. Developers who don't have professional references could earn their points in some of the other ways.

And maybe book quests or webinar quests could provide a few points, perhaps with a fairly low cap.

I know there's a non-trivial amount of administration that would be required to manage a program like this. Please join the discussion on the Agile Skills Project Google Group.