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How our JUG worked towards 7 new Aussie Joomla! Certified Administrators
On 28 March 2018, the Joomla! User Group Melbourne hosted the first ever Joomla! Certification exam in Melbourne, Australia. We ended up with 7 new Joomla! Administrators, from 8 people who chose to sit the exam (and the 8th who was quite new to Joomla wasn't far off and is keen to try again!). Our JUG went through a bit of a journey together to achieve an excellent overall result, which I thought was worth sharing.
In 2016 I was privileged to become the first Australian to pass the Joomla! Administrator exam at JWC16 in Vancouver, and in 2017 I joined the Joomla Certification Program (JCP) with the goal of bringing Joomla Certification to Australia. We held our first exam in Australia last year at JoomlaDay Australia 2017, where we added 3 new Administrators to the tally.
On 28 March 2018, the Joomla! User Group Melbourne hosted the first ever Joomla! Certification exam in Melbourne. We ended up with 7 new Joomla! Administrators, from 8 people who chose to sit the exam (and the 8th who was quite new to Joomla wasn't far off and is keen to try again!).
We kicked off the process in our January JUG meeting. Most of our regular JUG attendees haven't attended an international conference and therefore hadn't heard much about Certification, but were interested. I borrowed a presentation from the JCP to explain the certification process, and talked a little about my own experience and the benefits I felt I had gained from obtaining certification, including both professional opportunities and also how it had helped me feel more a part of the Joomla! community since. At the end of that January meeting, we determined there was enough interest to go ahead.
The presentation talked about the Certification Learning Guide. For the next JUG meeting, rather than me doing all the talking (which would have been quite boring!), I asked for volunteers to each take one topic from the Learning Guide, research it and present a 5-10 minute high level overview. It took less than a minute to get volunteers for all the topics! The goal was obviously not to cover everything in detail, but to touch on what topics were covered and perhaps highlight some things they hadn't known previously, or things they thought maybe others might not be aware of. My goal was to try to make the experience one of active engagement, rather than passively watching and listening.
At our February JUG, everybody presented their topic in turn. It was a fairly large gathering by our standards because we also had several people attend just to learn, that weren't planning to sit the exam at that point. We had a fresh Joomla install showing on the big screen, as well as the Learning Guide, so each person presenting could demonstrate as they went if they wanted to. There was no need for individual slides.
Some topics were faster to go through than others. Of particular interest was the Multilingual topic, because in Australia there has not traditionally been high demand for multilingual, so none of us had ever built a multilingual site. We found the Multilingual online documentation in particular to be excellent (thanks JDocs!). We also discovered we were all using a 3rd party editor and hadn't looked at TinyMCE in a long time, and not everybody had previous experience with ACL, and some people hadn't really done much with overrides, so those things helped people know what to look into further at home.
It was a really good and collaborative session which generated a lot of discussion. Everyone was engaged, because they hadn't just come to listen. Some of us had been using Joomla since 1.0x and discovered there were actually new (easier) ways to do things in 3.x!
By this time I'd received approval for our exam from the JCP, and been provided with our coupon code, which I emailed to potential candidates along with a link to the Joomla Australia Certification page, and instructions on how to purchase an exam seat. It's important to not purchase a seat before you're ready, but we had limited seats at our venue, so emailing the code rather than making it public ensured all of the interested JUG members had an opportunity to purchase a seat without feeling pressured.
Our regular March JUG was only one week before the exam, so the group voted to also devote that JUG session to review, and we stepped through the Joomla! Documentation Administrators portal on the big screen together - another collaborative session. In Australia we also use Slack, and in the week before the exam the #joomlacertification channel became an interesting and engaged study group. By the time everybody arrived for the exam, there was a sense of camaraderie and most candidates seemed relatively calm (to me anyway!) and well prepared, even though for some it was the first exam they'd sat in many MANY years!
Big congratulations to our 7 new Aussie Joomla Certified Administrators - a happy bunch of faces! We even managed to get two 90%+ results, which was fantastic to see. :)
After the exam, we had a brief chat about the experience. Everyone agreed that "doing it together", combined with personal time studying and going through the Learning Guide, worked well for them. Even though some topics were not previously well known, this process helped the candidates to arrive at the exam feeling well-prepared.
For Aussies interested in Joomla Certification, please feel free to get in touch. At this stage we're planning another Administrator exam in September at JoomlaDay Australia 2018 in Melbourne. However, if there's enough interest I’m happy to help organise an exam before then.
Melbourne JUG Co-organiser
Joomla Certification Program