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A few months ago, I was privileged with the opportunity of taking the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course with Mark Layton. Our company requires that all developers take this course and practice Agile development within our teams.

I must confess since this is the only CSM course I have taken, I cannot provide a compare/contrast of this course with others. However, if you are thinking about taking a CSM course from Platinum Edge, here is what you can expect:

Structure:

  1. Prerequisites: Before you walk into the training session, you will receive an email with the core Scrum guide attached. It is not necessary to read it though.
  2. Group Setting: You have pre-assigned seating at tables with 6 or 7 other people. This is your “team” during the 2 day training.
  3. Teach, Draw, Share, Break: Beginning with the Agile philosophy and working his way into Scrum, Mark divides his training into sections. In each section, Mark will teach you everything you need to know, then you will do a group activity where you have to illustrate what he taught you. Then your team will share your illustration with the others followed by a 10 minute break.
  4. Practice as you learn: Your group will come up with a project idea, and then use Scrum to build that project.
  5. Test: At the end of the training, you will be given login credentials to take the test. The test is a 35 question, multiple choice test that should not take you more than an hour.

The Good:

  1. Organized and well-planned: Because you will receive a wealth of information in 2 days, great care is taken to maximize the limited time for training. In addition, Mark’s knowledge of Scrum is implicitly  revealed through his lack of dependence on powerpoints and continual engagement with the audience.
  2. Balance between instruction and practice: Unlike a lecture, Mark presents for a few minutes, then sets your team loose to implement what you heard.
  3. Different learning styles: Perhaps taking a cue from his behavioral science background, Mark uses auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning to reinforce the training. Auditory – he presents on a section, Visual – he provides post-it boards and sticky notes for you to illustrate concepts, Kinesthetic – you have to practice Scrum within your team and share what you did. If you are paying attention the information will not be easily forgotten.
  4. Customer Service: Mark’s assistant answers any questions you may have with quick response times. This made signing up and preparing for the course very easy.
  5. Frequent breaks: Since attention spans are short, multiple breaks are scheduled so your mind can rest.

The Not So Good:

  1. Information Overload: If you have no prior exposure to Agile, then training will feel like information overload. The best solution is to research beforehand on Agile Development and Scrum practices.
  2. Next Steps: The training is great for those working in waterfall environments. However, unless you are someone with clout in your organization, the training is merely great information. I took the test, printed a certificate, and then asked, “Now what?” Other people who took the class agreed that the training was useful, but they were unsure of what to do next. Clear direction in this area would have been beneficial.

Note:

  1. Electronic use: Mark is strict on using electronics in his training, and for good reason. Successful learning in this class requires 100% attention and participation. You do not need computers or phones. If you want to take notes, Mark provides a book of his slides for you to use.
  2. Being Late: In order for your certification to count, you cannot miss more than 20 minutes of training. Plan to be early, otherwise your opportunity will be gone.
  3. Training, not coaching: Because this course is designed to help you become a Certified Scrum Master, all content is focused on helping you understand Scrum, not Scrum in your organization. That being said, Mark is available during breaks to provide coaching. But do not expect to walk away from this course with a customized solution on how to implement Scrum at your workplace.
  4. Poker App: Platinum Edge provides a link for you to download the poker app. If you did not download it they will provide you with physical cards, the app is only there for your convenience but not necessary.

If you are looking to take a CSM course do not look further than Platinum Edge. I enjoyed the teaching style and participation, and Mark’s continual engagement made the class interesting. You will get the most for your money and walk away with a good understanding of Scrum.

Link: Platinum Edge

This review applies to open CSM courses offered directly by Platinum Edge. Platinum Edge does private training for companies and partners with other organizations – both instances falling outside the scope of this review.