08 Dec 2014 |
Research article |
Information and Communications Technologies
Teaching the ISO/IEC 29110 Standard to Computer Science Technology Students
The new ISO/IEC 29110 standard, specifically designed for very small entities (VSEs) of up to 25 people and small-scale software development projects, is already taught in graduate-level university programs in certain countries. The project described in this article integrated software engineering project management principles into two college-level software engineering courses for future IT technicians. This RPI discusses the teaching materials developed by Collège Bois-de-Boulogne, a technical college in the province of Quebec, and the project outcomes.
Project issues and objectives
The initial issue was simple: How to boost interest in ISO/IEC 29110 in Quebec? To do so requires demonstrating that the standard delivers substantial benefits and added value to the “very small entities” (VSEs) that use it.
Several countries and regions in the world have already deployed ISO/IEC 29110. But little is happening so far in Quebec, despite the fact that several Quebecers were instrumental in the creation of the ISO standard. ÉTS professor Claude Y. Laporte, who served as an editor for the standardization project that led to ISO/IEC 29110, also spearheaded a network whose aim is to accelerate the dissemination and adoption of ISO/IEC 29110. In the long term, by failing to act Quebec could lose a competitive advantage to other countries (listed below) where the standard has already been adopted by business and is taught in the education system. A start has been made in Quebec, however: ISO/IEC 29110 is now being used for student coursework in quality assurance courses in the software engineering programs at both ÉTS (LOG330, MGL805) and UQAM (MGL7560). Over a dozen ÉTS master’s students have complete projects using the new standard. Internationally, several countries including Brazil, Japan, and Uruguay have adopted ISO/IEC 29110 as a national standard.
The aim of the project is to give technical college instructors and students the tools needed to acquire the competencies to apply the ISO/IEC 29110 standard. Once they join the industry, these students will in turn pass on the knowledge, technical competencies, and soft skills they have developed. This thinking led to the development of the material assembled in a toolkit of nine templates designed for students, many of whom will undoubtedly to work for VSEs. Currently, 80% of Montreal’s software developers are VSEs; 50% have 10 or fewer employees .
Methodology: Creating templates
ISO/IEC 29110 was designed specifically for organizations of up to 25 people (VSEs). The standard details a 4-step process, with a Management and Engineering Guide that describes each step’s project management and implementation processes (see Figure 2).
Our project provided teachers and students with a set of tools that included templates and checklists. Correctly using all these tools will mean students are in compliance with the ISO/IEC 29110 Management and Engineering Guide.
Table 1 lists the templates developed for the project alongside corresponding l’ISO/IEC 29110 documents.
It was agreed that the templates should be kept as simple as possible, while still complying with ISO/IEC 29110 Basic Profile requirements, evaluation criteria for college-level courses, and industry standards. All templates were developed using a process that included approval by Claude Y. Laporte and Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne instructor Stéphane Lévesque.
The project Vision Document is based on a streamlined version of IBM’s Rational Unified Process (RUP). Students describe a business opportunity and the set of problems their project is designed to solve. A major component of the document is a list of the main needs of all system stakeholders and users.
Using this template, students do the following:
- Describe the project and its main objectives
- Define team members’ roles and responsibilities
- Specify planned deliverables
- Produce a Gantt diagram
- Complete a risks matrix
- List tools required for their project
Here students list their project’s functional requirements.
Architecture and Design Document
In this document students detail the functional and non-functional requirements and constraints listed in the Software Specifications document. They also produce Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams to guide the project’s software development work. Finally, a traceability matrix (included in the templates) is completed. The matrix ties together the needs described in the Vision Document, user experiences, and system requirements and constraints.
Here students define the aspects of their software that require testing. They then develop a testing strategy for each component of their application described in the Architecture and Design Document.
Quality Assurance Plan
The template for the Quality Assurance Plan we provide students has two objectives:
- Make students aware that quality assurance requires both planning and a methodology
- Provide students with checklists that serve as a starting point for the quality assurance process
After reviewing the templates created for the college, a generic version of each template was developed. The aim was to make a generic version of the templates available to other educational institutions without hampering Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne’s ability to make changes adapted to its specific context.
The generic toolkit consists of the six documents created by the college along with the three new templates described below.
Product Delivery Form
This template is designed to simplify the process whereby students deliver software to instructors or other evaluators. It is based on the deployment toolkits available on the ISO/IEC 29110 website.
Request for Changes
This template includes two sections:
- Description of changes: To be completed by the client (i.e., the instructor)
- Description of impacts: To be completed by the team of students
This template can be used by students who want to better structure their projects by formalizing their meetings.
Project evaluation and conclusion
Student assignments completed as part of this project give Quebec technical college students the opportunity to become familiar with the ISO/IEC 29110 standard using templates tailored to their needs.
Templates come bundled in two different toolkits: one specifically designed for Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne, and one generic toolkit aimed at students of other technical colleges in the province of Quebec. Templates were created through a collaborative process by ÉTS and Collège Bois-de-Boulogne instructors, and are aligned with both the ISO/IEC 29110 standard and the practical parameters and educational requirements of Computer Science Technology technical college programs.
An evaluation method was designed ahead of time to assess the satisfaction levels of participating students and instructors. Analysis of comments shows that students were highly appreciative of the templates, which helped them complete their work and enabled them to better apply the subject matter within their course. Students also reported, however, that they were not interested in learning more about the standard and did not feel it had a place in the other courses in their program.
Although students were slow to give feedback and the number of comments received was small, due to a student strike, the project’s future is bright. The templates were appreciated by students who used them and it is our hope going forward that other colleges will join Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne in integrating the ISO/IEC 29110 standard in their programs.
The next steps to take the project further would be to deploy it in other Quebec colleges/CEGEPS, adjust templates in response to evaluation feedback, and add a document to the toolkit that explains the purpose and importance of the standard in terms students can understand.
Other Research Papers
For further information on the subject, we recommend the following article:
Trudeau, P.O., C.Y. Laporte, and S. Lévesque. Enseignement de la norme ISO/CEI 29110 aux étudiants en technique informatique d’un collègue technique québécois. Génie Logiciel, No. 110, September 2014, pp 43–55.
Also of interest are the previous articles that have appeared on Substance ÉTS:
- An Innovative Approach to the Development of an International Software Process Lifecycle Standard for Very Small Entities
- Swicetrip: a collaborative travel site designed with the new ISO / IEC 29110
Paul-Olivier Trudeau has ten years’ experience in software development and maintenance and a master’s in software engineering from ÉTS.
Program : Software Engineering
Claude Y. Laporte was a Professor of software engineering at ÉTS before retiring. He is the Project Editor of the systems and software engineering ISO / IEC 29110 standards for Very Small Entities developing systems or software products.