[lpi-discuss] BSD certification JTA survey report available
g.sewell at thymox.uklinux.net
Tue Aug 2 19:13:06 EDT 2005
On Fri, 29 Jul 2005 17:47:14 -0700
Mark Miller wrote:
> They generally have no comments about other certs except some structural
> ones around Redhat and Cisco programs. They fall into the trap that
> "hands on" must be good except once again there is no proof this is true
> in a testing environment. One comment notes that rushing people in a
> timed test induces messy mistakes that otherwise might not be there.
> Another comment notes that knowing every switch to "ls" is not important
> as you can look it up. We minimize such things ourselves but sometimes
> asking about them indicates that a candidate is familiar with that
> switch because they USE it regularly.
> In the main it appears that the people in the survey generally found
> good with LPI's way (enough to suggest BSD emulate parts of it anyway).
On the topic of practical "hands on" testing...
As I understand it, the Cisco cert exams are pretty much 100% "exam" based, much like the LPI exams. Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of taking any RH certs, so I don't know how close a parallel the following might be.
The Cisco Academy route to certification presents the student with 1 "final" exam per semester (there are 4 semesters for CCNA, and 4 for CCNP) which is in a similar style to the LPI exams, as well as separate "chapter" exams which are not mandatory (although by default are weighted at 5% each, or so). However, Cisco also encourages a written piece of work (called a "case study" by Cisco, and "coursework" by my students) and a practical "Skills Based Assessment" (SBA) for each semester. The general rules for the SBA are that students can only take in pre-prepared hand-written work, a pad of paper and pens/pencils - no printouts or other materials. They are given the scenario and equipment (which usually includes at least 1 router/switch that has been pre-configured by the tutor and cannot be modified by the student) as they enter the room. They are given guidelines on how long various steps should take, but (AFAIAA) there are no official time limits to the SBA. The stude
nt is then left to their own devices. They can choose any order in which to tackle the tasks (do I tackle routing, VLANs or WAN connections first?) but once they are satisfied they have completed the tasks, they must demonstrate to the instructor that all tasks have been completed and show their running configuration files. They may also be asked (as one of the tasks) to demonstrate troubleshooting skills to the instructor on how to rectify a situation.
The students generally find the SBA to be equally as taxing as the "final" exams but more relevant because they are presented with a more complete feel of how to accomplish certain tasks. As such, many instructors (myself included) weight the SBA and the final exams at very similar values.
I guess what I'm trying to allude to in a round-about sort of way is that, to my mind, plain ol' exams are fine for people that have been using the technology (whether that be Linux, BSD or Cisco) for a while and are familiar with it and how it behaves, but "hands on" situations (like the SBA, above, and what I've been hearing about the "hands on" element of the RH certs) are more suitable for people who are newish to the technology and are not necessarily 100% sure of how to do something - the hands on exercises allow the student to explore their ideas on how best to tackle a situation, and then test them after implementation.
I think that the way LPI have the exams side of things organised is pretty much spot-on - however, for those that are currently (or are considering) implementing an "Academy" style training programme based around LPI's materials, I only wish there was a more standardised format. Which kinds of begs the question: Would the LPI ever consider going down the "Academy" route?
> I find this report valuable and you can be certain that I'll be pouring
> over it to find where I can improve our program(s).
Me too! Having only glanced over it for a few minutes this afternoon, I am already hooked.
BSc (Hons), Cisco Networking Tutor, MCP,
Certified Linux Professional (LPIC-1)
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