Every 18 months a new TYPO3 version with Long Term Support (LTS-Release) is released. For the Education Committee this means work: We have to update all TYPO3 certifications, consider new features, remove outdated information - and of course revise the question catalogue. All this happens in a few weeks.
TYPO3 certifications on the way to a new version
The Education Committee is a team appointed by the TYPO3 Association. Its task is to create materials for further education, design educational offers and further develop the TYPO3 certification program. Within this framework, we also conduct certification exams at camps, for example, and organize the TYPO3 CertiFUNcation as a major event.
When an LTS release is pending, things always get a little hectic for us. There is a lot to do to keep all certification programs up to date. We would like to continuously improve the quality of examinations and examination questions.
The TYPO3 certifications
Currently, four certifications are offered for TYPO3 for different roles. The TCCE certification certifies that editors can handle the content management system with confidence. The TCCI certification is for integrators; they install extensions and teach TYPO3 what data should be output in what way. For developers, there is the TCCD certification - here, clean ways to create TYPO3 extensions are queried. Finally, there is the TCCC certification - here project managers and consultants prove that they are familiar with the TYPO3 system and important components for running a modern website.
All of these certifications cover different areas in very different depths to meet the requirements of the role. And, of course, with every TYPO3 LTS release, new features are added to the system which affect the various certifications in different ways.
SkillDisplay - a way to learn.
A partnership between TYPO3 and SkillDisplay has existed for several years. First we translated the then existing syllabus into a so-called SkillTree to create a learning aid. We wanted to offer interested parties, who wanted to tackle a TYPO3 certification, a possibility to learn the required skills in a structured way. For this purpose SkillDisplay works with SkillTrees and for us the task was mainly to structure our requirements, to set them into dependencies and thus to build up the SkillTree. What sounds simple taught us the hard way at the beginning that we could significantly improve the quality. The SkillTree showed us contradictions and inconsistencies that we needed to clean up. A mammoth task!
In the next iteration we have already started to build the skill tree in parallel. This worked better because we became aware of the problems mentioned earlier and were able to solve them. Since version 9LTS we have reversed the process - now we first create the SkillTree and in a second step generate the syllabus for our exams. SkillDisplay has thus become an important tool in our quality control. Since last year we have had our own TYPO3 server with our own SkillDisplay instance, which gives us all the freedom we need for certification. As a bonus, we can easily export the finished SkillTrees to the official SkillDisplay platform, giving interested parties an excellent opportunity to prepare for their TCCE, TCCI or TCCD exams.
What is actually new?
At the beginning of a certification update, of course, we first have to get a sound overview of what's new in the new TYPO3 LTS version. It helps us to do so, that we all develop, work and offer trainings with the system - and inform ourselves accordingly about current developments. Through the TYPO3 Association, all teams and committees provide a monthly update, which also helps to keep up to date with developments and discussions. And there are the TYPO3 documentations of all new features, which have been very good for some years now. Of course, we are currently looking at them again in the hot phase.
A very good overview is also provided by the What's new in TYPO3 information on https://typo3.org/help/documentation/whats-new.
And how is a new version of the certification created?
In a first step we copy the SkillTree of the current certification. This copy is our working copy, which will become the new version in the coming weeks and in much detail. In a first iteration we identify skills that are no longer needed. This is the case, for example, if the topic covered is no longer to be used, e.g. if it no longer corresponds to best practice or if the topic has been replaced by another method in TYPO3. For example, with the introduction of the new URL routing in 9LTS, numerous older topics on (then obsolete) URL configuration could be removed.
For all skills that remain in the SkillTree, the descriptions have to be checked - is the topic still up to date, does the topic need to be supplemented or perhaps terms need to be updated? For the vast majority of skills, the links to the learning resources must also be adapted; after all, we want the links in the TYPO3 documentation to point to the appropriate version.
Finally, the new features of the new LTS version must be added to the SkillTree. The new features will be broken down into skills and these in turn will be inserted into the tree in the appropriate place. What does a prospective editor / integrator / developer already need to know to acquire the new skills in a meaningful way? This sometimes leads to exciting discussions in our expert groups until we achieve the quality we want. For all new skills, of course, corresponding descriptions and tags must still be found.
As a bonus, we will assign a domain tag to each skill; this will enable us to provide frequently requested information in the future: For computer-based examinations (e.g. via the Online Certification Tool) we would like to be able to tell the participant in which areas he or she scored well or badly. This request has been made to us many times; however, for understandable reasons we cannot answer questions of the type "Did I solve question 22 correctly?" without compromising our pool of questions.
For the future, however, we would like to receive information such as "Congratulations, you passed. But take a look at topic XY again" or "Unfortunately, this time it wasn't enough; but you have mastered topics A and B well. ".
Even (or especially) if we have familiarized ourselves deeply with the matter over a long period of time, there is a chance that we will not see the forest for the trees. The syllabus and logic of the SkillTree are so important to us that we have built in several quality controls. On the one hand, we constantly discuss the skill tree during its construction within the expert groups but also between the task forces and the Education Committee. Is the structure really logical? Are the dependencies correctly resolved? Are the domain tags used correctly, not only within a skill tree, but consistently across all TYPO3 certifications?
If we think we've done a good job here, we'll have the syllabus reviewed - by experts from the Core Team and TYPO3 GmbH. Often we get valuable tips on how to improve details or formulate them more comprehensibly. Change requests are implemented iteratively until we are all 100% satisfied. That's when we publish the syllabus on typo3.org/certification.
Participants, please prepare yourself...
With the publication of the syllabus for a certification, the participants have a binding document, which knowledge and skills we test in the exams. And this is where working with the SkillTrees really pays off again: On SkillDisplay we publish the official SkillTree for all TYPO3 certifications and thus provide a structured learning suggestion on how to prepare for the exam in an ideal way. For each skill there is a short description of what we expect and for most of the skills there are links to the official TYPO3 documentation or other high quality resources that can be used to acquire the knowledge.
And that's not all - we can also compare the SkillTrees of several versions and display the differences. This is an ideal tool for those who have already certified to an older version and need an overview of what skills were added during certification.
On your mark. Get set. Go!
So, while the participants can now prepare themselves and probably look forward to their certification exams with some excitement, we still have a lot of work to do: Of course, the list of questions also needs to be revised.
Remove old questions
This is the simplest part: Questions that refer to competencies that we have removed in the new version will be deleted.
Adapt existing questions
For each question we want to continue to use (after all, a new TYPO3 version does not change everything), we have to review again. Has a terminology changed in the new version or is the function now to be found elsewhere? For this purpose, we go through all questions with a current TYPO3 instance one by one and check if something has changed and we have to reformulate or change the question.
Ask new questions
Questions must now be found for all new skills in our SkillTree. This is the hardest part - and also the part that takes the longest. Here, too, we proceed iteratively and in a multi-eye principle; there are some types of question that we do not want to have in the certification exam: "What is the best way to achieve XY? " would be one such example. Often questions are also formulated in a misleading way or contain a language trap.
To avoid this, the questions are formulated, cross-checked and put up for discussion within the team. Quality control is also essential here.
When questions are completely formulated and professionally checked, we put the questions into the polish. For this purpose, a native speaker checks the questions for linguistic subtleties and correctness and adjusts them if necessary.
And off to the pool!
When the questions are approved, they will be added to our question pool. For each certification exam, questions are randomly selected from this pool, randomly jumbled together and the questionnaires are generated.
This means that the same questions are not always asked in the certification exams; and both the questions and the answer choices are randomized. Finally, we want the participants to have understood the topics and not have learned patterns by heart ;-)
If you now feel like taking a TYPO3 certification and joining the circle of certified TYPO3 CMS Certified Editors, TYPO3 CMS Certified Integrators, TYPO3 CMS Certified Developers or TYPO3 CMS Certified Consultants: good luck with the preparation and the exam!
That sounds exciting! Can I join in?
We are always happy to have reinforcements in the Education Committee.
How often does the Education Committee meet?
The Education Committee usually meets at least 2x, ideally 3x per year. In addition, there are sprints for the work in the task forces, which organize themselves. The TYPO3 Association covers the costs for accommodation and travel. At the sprints where we meet, we also try to organize a team event.
There is also a short slack call every 14 days.
How is the work organized?
For each task the Education Committee takes on, there is a task force responsible for that task. The task forces are self-governing and decide when, where and how often they meet.
Will the work be remunerated?
No. The Education Committee, like all teams of the TYPO3 Association, works voluntarily and without payment. We believe in OpenSource software, many of us earn our living with this great system and we give something back to the project through our work.
Who can I contact?
Can I still be certified if I am a member of the Education Committee?
A good question. Not all members of the Education Committee are involved in certification. Those who have access to the questions are not allowed to take the certification exam. To avoid any disadvantage, all Education Committee members who are involved in improving the certification will receive the certificate free of charge for a period of 12 months. This certificate will be extended as long as you are active in the Education Committee. After leaving the Education Committee, you may of course take a regular exam again after a waiting period.