As Eric Lamy wrote in our special 10 year issue: "One of the Joomla! events of 2016 will certainly be the launch of the certification program. Why? Because the stakes are huge." The certification program has now been launched, and to help us see the concept, the organization and the contents more clearly, we interviewed Marc Dechèvre.
Marc, you are the first French-speaking holder of the Joomla Certification for Administrators. First of all, congratulations!
HAVE YOU PREPARED FOR THIS EXAMINATION?
Yes, I did, for several reasons:
- The practical side
First, since the certification is not yet available in France, I had to visit our Dutch neighbors. Although the distance was reasonable (less than 2 hours one way), I did not feel like going back a second time. :-)
- The unknown
The certification is in an early phase and, inevitably, there is not much feedback, except that not many people had passed so far, both in absolute terms (as can be seen at https://exam.joomla.org/index.php/component/certification) and in relative terms (from what I have heard from different sources in different countries): it seems that even some very experienced people have failed the exam.
I make presentations quite regularly, in French as well as in Dutch and English. So language was not as such an obstacle for me. On the other hand, I work 90% of the time in the interface of Joomla! in French ... and that can be a handicap if you do not know enough about the wording of the English version. For example: The "paramètres" button is not called "Parameters" in the original version ... but "Options". In an MCQ, this could be surprising.
Finally, I did not want to gamble. Even if the exam can be taken again and again (I can just wait a month and pay again), it's still more fun for self-esteem to succeed the first time. :-)
HOW DID YOU PREPARE?
In terms of preparation, I used several sources:
- Video tutorials
Just before the summer, a partnership between Joomla! and OSTraining was established, making nearly 7 hours of video tutorials available at htps://training.joomla.org. I watched them all ... at speed 1.5. :-) It's nice because even on subjects we know, we always end up learning something extra... (and it's easier to start with the video and then to finish with the textual documentation than the other way around).
- The Learning Guide
The official website contains a list of subjects to study: https://certification.joomla.org/exams/administrator-learning-guide . This page will be improved over time of course. It contains for each topic the various practical subjects, with often a link to the official Joomla! documentation : http://docs.joomla.org/Administrators. Moreover, I take this opportunity to launch a call: certification is the opportunity to give a boost to this Doc (updating texts, screenshots, ...). Volunteer ! :-) Simply create an account by clicking the Connect button at https://docs.joomla.org.
- Inventory of Joomla! 3.x
Each 3.x version comes with a lot of new features. Some are not yet integrated into the official Doc. So I quickly went through my own presentation, which I update regularly (available only in French, although it is probably understandable by any regular Joomla! user): http://www.slideshare.net/woluweb/joomla3-les-nouveauts-marc-dechvre
- Joomla's administrative interface
I have covered Joomla!'s whole interface (and in the process discovered one or two details I had not known!)
- All Parameters of all components
- All Menu Types
- All Module Types
- All Components (especially those I never use)
- All fields on all tabs of all screens
- The books of Cinnk
Finally, I went over two books I had already read in detail before (available only in French):
- Joomla! 3 The Book for All http://cinnk.com/joomla/3/le-livre-pour-tous
- 100 Tips & Tricks for Joomla! 3 http://cinnk.com/boutique/livres-joomla/trucs-astuces-joomla
To put it shortly, as you can see:
On the one hand, I have undoubtedly done a little bit too much preparation in order to make sure I succeed ...
But on the other hand, I also wanted to limit the time I would devote to the preparation. So I gave myself no more than one day to do all of this.
So eventually I "only" started the day before the exam, with two advantages:
- first, I was sure I would not to devote more time (by working efficiently and not in "relax mode")
- second, everything was still fresh in my mind
HOW DID THE EXAMINATION WORK?
The examination took place in the Netherlands, in the offices of R2H, the 1st Joomla! Learning Partner to have organized a certification exam.
Just before starting the exam, the supervisor goes through the small regulation (he can not answer any questions, even for clarification, during the exam).
The questionnaire consists of 60 questions and takes 90 minutes. Actually, I finished after sixty minutes by doing it frankly without hurrying. So no time pressure: you can concentrate on the content.
This is an MCQ:
- Sometimes it is a simple yes / no
- Other times, you need to choose the correct answer from among 4 choices ...
- But the toughest are the questions where one or more answers are possible (it still makes 16 combinations ... or sometimes there are actions that one knows how to do if one has the screen in front of them, but to know from memory that it is at such and such a place and how it is worded is a different story...)
Otherwise, I laughed more than once good-hearted at some of the false answers. :-)
You must get at least 80% right to succeed (NB: all questions do not have the same weight).
As for the interface, it is very well made (see screenshot below):
- We constantly see the clock
- We can complete the questions in any order we want to
- When a question has been answered, it appears in blue on the left side of the screen
- For each question, whether it has been answered or not, we can click on "Flag question" to mark it with a small red acronym, which makes it possible to return to the question later
Good to know: recently we can even set up a demo on the official website (only three dummy questions, but that's enough to become familiar with the interface): http://exam.joomla.org
There are still some issues to fix, I gave my feedback in the post-certification form on this subject. Do not hesitate to do the same: this will allow the exam to improve. For example:
- Sometimes a question may be formulated in an ambiguous way
- Other times, especially when several answers are possible, the answer might depend on the context.
- Finally, in some cases, a screenshot could be useful to supplement the question (especially when the user does not do the exam in his / her mother tongue)
DO YOU THINK THIS CERTIFICATION IS EASY / DIFFICULT? WHAT LEVEL OF JOOMLA! EXPERTISE IS NECESSARY?
Honestly, given the informal feedback gathered beforehand, I feared it would be more difficult. For someone who works with Joomla! regularly, and who follows the news, with a minimum of preparation it is quite enough:
- If English is not an obstacle for you, self-training is enough
- Otherwise, either because you have less expertise at the outset, because the English sources present a problem to you, or simply because nothing is as good as real training by certified people, the Joomla! Learning Partners are of course at your disposal: http://resources.joomla.org/en/joomla-learning-partners
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
Certification is valid for Joomla 3.x. When Joomla 4.x comes out, a new certification will also be necessary. But we still have a little time before that happens! By the way, the new features that await us with Joomla 3.7 and Joomla 3.8 are already very promising (including "custom", or personalized fields). More information can be found on the Joomla! World Conference website: https://conference.joomla.org
- To return to the certification, as a member of the Francophone Community, my ambition is now to continue my modest contribution in two ways:
- The translation of the certification in French: We will be able to organize the translation of the exam, which will facilitate access to the certification for France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, North Africa and The West.
Promote the certification: Certifications can be arranged by JoomlaDays, Joomla User Groups (JUGs) or by Joomla! Learning Partners (JLPS are accredited training centers): https://certification.joomla.org/host-exams/who-can-host-exams.
In all cases, in order to be able to organize an exam, it is necessary to have a certified supervisor. I had already started introducing a file for our Joomla! User Group (JUG Wallonie). We will soon be able to hold our first exam session! And of course, to further promote the certification, I am also available to play the role of supervisor for JUGs and JLPS in need (contact me)
Whatever path you choose to prepare, it is necessary to reach 80% to succeed.
Personally, I would say that the most important things are:
- To leave no "shadow zone": Just to cite two examples, many users, even experienced ones, have never been confronted with setting up a multilingual website. Or they have never had to configure ACLs (User Group and Access Levels)
- To remember that the examination is only on the Joomla! core: so do not worry about extensions (text editor, backup extension, etc and your work habits (presets, etc). In short, install a blank site. :-) Throughout the Joomla! core: have you used all the native components (tags, redirect, the "smart search", etc)? Have you explored all the configuration possibilities?
In short, be curious!
And good luck :-)
(*) Original article: Le premier détenteur francophone de la Certification Joomla pour Administrateurs, Cinnk magazine 1 dècembre 2016.