One of the interesting aspects of the project is that we care about training since the beginning. We released the first OpenSER book in April 2008, followed by the OpenSIPS book in 2010 and the latest Building Telephony System with OpenSIPS 2nd edition in 2016. I’m glad the books received good reviews at Amazon and Packt websites with 4 to 5 stars.
From the books, we have created the OpenSIPS bootcamp, a 5 day, presential training. It was a successful training and I loved to teach it with students spending more than 50% of the time on labs. Due to the global nature of the project, the logistics were difficult. People coming from all over the world to US and Europe. Traveling expenses and VISAs were the most difficult problem to overcome.
We decide to do it online. We named the training the “eBootcamp”. The first version used the web-conference model. We discovered many challenges in this approach. A two hour, conference is an online marathon. In the other hand, many also learned well and enjoyed the experience. I remember seeing some students completing and even enhancing the final work. Anyway, we still felt the need for improvement.
Last year we have created self-paced online trainings, with the OpenSIPS Quickstart (Free) and the OpenSIPS eBootcamp, based on videos and labs, with no live conferences. Why?
- Videos are much shorter than conferences. Most of the videos have less than 15 min. We still have some long ones with more than 30 minutes, but much better than, two hour conferences. There are 14 hours of lectures in the new training. A video usually has three times less duration than a normal lecture with the same content (No interruptions, no digressing, no waiting). Videos are streamed in any format, thanks to Jwplayer.
- We recorded all labs. One of the main issues with trainings are labs. The OpenSIPS project releases a new version each 9 months and it is very hard to update them. If you want detailed instructions up to the last comma, you can get frustrated. Troubleshooting is sometimes required. With recordings, you can see how the lab was created originally, and this is helping students to complete them. Tech support is available for any lab.
- Student Interaction is still a challenge. In the last training, we have used Telegram to exchange mobile messages between students. It improved and thanks to the online model, they still can have access for one year to the materials and study at its own pace.
Online learning is not a panacea. Students have to take care of their own engagement, and there is very few we can do in this direction. The main reasons for low engagement are:
- Personal and professional problems. Health issues, Job change…
- Work overload. No time commitment for the training
- Social integration. Incentive and support for learning
- Lack of prerequisites.
What’s next in training?
What we are planning for the future in the OpenSIPS training:
- Offer again in-class training. The time commitment of the students make this option the safest. The costs and prices are higher, but it is worth for those who can travel – as the in-class training is the best when comes to knowledge delivery;
- We hear the feedback, the online training is too long to stay focused. Thus, we moved to Video on Demand and allowed the students to buy the training in three parts, reducing the risk of not finishing the whole course.
- New advanced classes. VoIP providers are not the only thing you can do with OpenSIPS. Lately, load balancing and to escalate PBX operations are key for many students, so expect to have in this year training on security, PBX load balancing and High Availability.
At OpenSIPS we think the education is key for the growth of the project. The new trainings are available at http://elearning.opensips.org. Classroom trainings are an option again, we hope to have you in class in the near future – and stay tuned as the next one is planned for September 2017.