Proposal for ideas on developing a community-maintained curriculum structure

From: Chris Travers
Subject: Proposal for ideas on developing a community-maintained curriculum structure
Date: ,
Msg-id: 1071406150.2212.871.camel@localhost.localdomain
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List: pgsql-advocacy

Hi all;

I have been having this discussion on the pgsql-general list for a while
and figured it was suggested that I post my ideas here as they may be of
interest, though they raise a few issues which have been heatedly
debated in the past.

One of the current difficulties that PostgreSQL faces is the lack of a
structured curriculum for learning the database manager, as well as a
structured means of skill assessment.  MySQL has certifications, as do
Oracle and MS SQL.  And these certifications have been very useful to
these organizations as a marketing tool.

For reasons that are fairly obvious, it is not possible to immediately
develop a certification program for PostgreSQL, and even trying to
create an official one would create a number of tough issues which would
likely doom any project.  Also, because certifications may not be
profitable unless they are well scaled, it is unreasonable to think that
any third party will fill this niche in the forseable future.

Another problem is that, IMO, MySQL and MS SQL certs have it backwards--
it seems to me that the skill assessment was designed first and the
curriculums are often designed for the test, rather than the other way
around.  I have no experience with Oracle certs, so I cannot discuss
those.  However, the existence of the curriculums and/or certs from our
competitors makes our job of promoting PostgreSQL a bit harder.

It should also be noted that, compared MySQL (and probably MS SQL), the
PostgreSQL community is by and large much more experienced wrt RDBMS's
in general and tend to be the sorts that can run with the
documentation.  However, although this is an advantage insofar as it
raises the quality of technical support available on the lists, it makes
the product a bit unapproachable to a developer who has little
experience working with RDBMS's in general.  Certification courses fill
this niche with many of our competitors, and we have no equivalent.

I think it would be a serious mistake to try to push for certification
at this stage because there is no infrastructure in place to support it
and make it successful.  However, since there are people asking for
certification and training for PostgreSQL, I suggest we give them what
we can:  a structured community-maintained curriculum.  It is possible
that this *could* lead to certification programs at some indefinite
point in the future (years or decades), but that is neither the aim nor
primary benefit.  It is also at least equally probable that it would not
lead to certification and that is fine too.

This curriculum would be structured for three levels:

1)  Basic level
2)  Advanced Level
3)  Specialist Level
Level three would be subdivided into the following three disciplines:
A:  Database Architect/DBA
B:  PostgreSQL Developer (C coding, such as PL's, types, and C
C:  Database Developer (PL coding, mostly).

There seems to be enough support to get the project started at least.
However, I would like to work with the PostgreSQL advocacy group, and
other concerned parties so that we can ensure that we have the best
reviewed set of documents around and so that we can try to ensure that
various valid concerns are considered.  I also think that it will be
helpful in building a community around the curriculum and bringing a
larger number of novices into out community.

The project would develop a set of skills outlines which show the skills
the community think would be most required at any level.  Tutorials
w/exercises could then be developed by the community on a topic by topic
basis.  The outline for level one will be forthcoming shortly.

Any thoughts?

Best Wishes
Chris Travers

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