UK-based Technology Management (TecMan) requested Opgona to run the technical track of our Junior Training this summer for 5 newly hired graduates. With the COVID pandemic still present, we had to decide to conduct this training fully online, even though both TecMan and Opgona know and prefer the additional value of onsite training. However, given our long running relation and expertise, we were both confident to start a successful next run of the training.
It’s the great training that you’ve provided many times now @lucvanvugt that is key to turning raw recruits into capable experts. Great to have you onboard this year again.James Crowter, Managing Director Technology Management on twitter
(you might want to also read the article James is referring to in his initial tweet)
week 2 – AL introduction
After having gone through an internal functional introduction course – aka week 1 -, the 5 students gathered at the TecMan office in Wolverhampton on Monday 7 June to connect to their trainer, Luc van Vugt. Sitting at his home office – his lovely kitchen 😉 – in the The Netherlands, Luc was projected on a big screen in the TecMan classroom, getting as close as possible of being present in the room. The other way around the classroom was recorded by a webcam positioned where the trainer might have sat if he would have be present onsite. This setting altogether surprisingly came close to being in the same room. A big THANX to Michelle Havenhand, TecMan’s HR Manager, and TecMan’s IT to get this set up.
The goal of this first week of the technical track is to get the students acquainted with AL programming, the programming language of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. They learn about the AL language, VS Code the development environment, the concept and usage of table, page and codeunit objects, and how to access the data in the underlying database. This is partly done with simple exercises focused on a single topic, but also by means of a case assignment, called Course Registration, integrating the various topics, and a daily quiz with questions send in by the students combined with a lot of other meaningful questions.
Being new to Business Central both as an application and its development technology, and getting a load of work to do, this first week was quite a challenge for the 5 students, as it always is. Being completely immersed a week long in a new world they have to absorb and digest a lot of things. In this the remote setup was clearly a hurdle to take as any non-spoken communication – i.e. body language – is almost unperceivable. Where onsite, as a trainer, you can read often from a student’s posture, e.g., whether she or he did want to pose a question, but somehow doesn’t dare, allowing you to invite her/him to still do. Or whether the student is blocked, but just keeps on going without asking for help. On the other hand, using a tool like Teams enables both student and trainer to directly connect, share screen(s) and have a close look at the issue the student is facing.
At the end of week 2 Luc talked about some general aspects of being a developer and handed over a homework assignment doing some research into the development methodology of TecMan and their role as a developer. We ware to part for 2 weeks before the 3rd training week. In this intermediate period the, to be, junior developers were going to work, next to the homework, on small tasks relating to both the past training week and the daily work at TecMan.
week 3 – AL solution development
On Monday 28 June, students and trainer met again, online, to continue their training journey: a week dedicated to solution development. What does it mean to be a Business Central application developer? How do you go about applying the technical skills in an ERP environment with its huge collection of existing functionality? What are the best practices and various architectural, design and coding patterns?
All these things were combined and exercised in one big step-by-step case, called Seminar Registration. From Monday to Thursday the students worked on this major assignment registering both their progress and code into Azure DevOps, building a “standard” application in Business Central going from configuration tables and pages, through operational transaction to historical transaction tables and pages.
On Friday of week 3, the students got to pick a new case, Support Registration, in which to should apply all things learned during the previous 4 days. Being a very ambitious project the assignment will continue in the following week, and has to be delivered before a mutually agreed upon deadline in Azure DevOps.
During the whole week the students displayed a high involvement, irrespective of the different hurdles each had to get across individually. In their weekly one-to-one with the trainer, they showed to be quite content on how things were going, and at the same time did also give constructive feedback on how the trainer was helping them out.
evaluation online vs. onsite
Looking back on week 2 and 3 we may conclude that the full online setting is not halting us from doing a fairly good job and at the same time it confirm the additional value of onsite, allowing for a better, and more supportive interaction between students and trainer. The intermediate weeks between week 2 and 3 did, however, show that some of the matters from week 2 were not fully grasped. Remote learning appears to put a bigger burden on the student to take ownership of her/his learning process. As the trainer cannot not perceive the student as well as onsite, the trainer apparently misses some essential input that helps to support and correct the student. Because of this week 3 started with a reference to this and an explicit call upon the students to “own you learning process”, to …
- Internalize what you learn
- Make sure you did understand what is discussed
- Read all information – as much as possible
- Dare to fail
Based upon the Seminar Registration case the technical track will tackle Reporting, Data Exchange, Data Upgrade and Automated Testing in their 4th week, starting on 19 July, 2021.
Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and get more insight into our Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Junior training and how it can fit your needs.