Saturday, November 06, 2010

ITIL Foundation exam

Yesterday I participated in an official ITIL Foundation V3 exam. For those who are not familiar with ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), it offers a systematic approach to the delivery of quality IT services. However, although I work in the field of e-Learning, I am not really an 'IT guy'. So sometimes I felt like a complete stranger in a world that obviously has a relationship with e-Learning, but the focus is on delivering IT services and creating value for the customer. Different semantics and a lot of acronyms (AMIS, SPOC, SPOF) do not make things easier.

The training sessions (3 mornings) were offered in a F2F setting in combination with a Study Guide and a map containing handouts of the powerpoint slides (230), a glossary and two sample exams. The map also contains some brief overview document, which I cannot recall reading. For each training session we had to prepare some reading in the Study Guide and a part of the ppt slides. As I happen to work in the field of e-Learning the first question that raised my mind was, why not do the preparation with e-Learning? There is already a lot out there about ITIL V3. The second point that made me feel like a stranger is that in a normal training / learning situation the learner tries to find relations with knowledge structures that are already present (activating prior knowledge). I can assure you that this becomes rather difficult in a setting where a lot of the terminology is new and at first gives no clue. When I read something about 'follow the sun' you might think of some romantic place in a sunny location, but not about a service desk that is located in different continents in order to offer a 24/7 service. The third point I was not really fond of, is the fact that ITIL Foundation is a lot about knowledge and facts. Although the trainer did give us some small assignments, it is not about gaining insight or skills. This is also reflected in the MC exam with 40 MC questions. It was a deja vu experience (not in the good sense of the word) to my first year at the university. If you learn the full book by heart, you have a good chance of finding the right answer. Questions in which you have to read four statements and answer which one(s) is/are right are not really fun to do. In some sample questions the only difference between statement 1 and 2 could be the word 'AND', which was replaced by 'OR'. So you read the statements, you feel relieved to recognize the concepts that are mentioned, but then you still feel unsure whether the right answer was 'AND' or 'OR'. Luckily there were also some easier questions such as 'what does PDCA mean?'. At the university the MC exams were not really my friend. I often needed two or more attempts to pass. On the other hand exams with open questions in which you had to proof your insight, connect concepts with each other, reflect on it, led by far to better results.

So, after more than 20 years this was the first time I was confronted with a MC exam again. First of all I did not really have the time to do a thorough preparation, lots of stress at work are not good circumstances to study. So I postponed the preparation to the last day before the exam and did that in a marathon session from 08.30 until 23.30. Of course a couple of small breaks for coffee or eating. Via Twitter I had some contact with colleagues who were preparing the same exam. Most of the time I spent in reading the book, not at a very deep level I believe and looking through the ppt slides. Furthermore, I made two sample exams. On the one hand to see whether I would be able to achieve the pass score of 26, on the other hand to do a sort of question analysis. In one sample exam I discovered that if you have to answer which statement(s) is/are correct and you really don't know the answer choose 'all of the above'. When I made the sample exam as you make it normally I achieved a score of 21. When I applied the rule I just described to the questions I answered wrong, my score went up to 26! The difference between fail and pass.

So back to the beginning of my post. The exam was yesterday morning. Did I pass? I don't know yet, since we had to fill in a form, which was taken by the official examinator. The forms need to be scanned before we get the results. It could be next week, but may also take up to 14 days... I'm slightly optimistic that I did achieve the pass score of 26 or more. I'm just a little worried that when the result comes in that a lot of the theoretical facts already have left my brain. New knowledge is lining up to fill the ITIL knowledge gaps. It's much more important to know where I can find the necassary information, interpret it and see whether I can apply it to a specific situation instead of simply learning it by heart. Moreover, a point I did not even address here, it is obviously a prerequisite that ITIL procedures need to be implemented on the organisational level too, in order to be able to create added value for the customer.


Kasper said...

Sorry, that I put you through this, I feel very guilty

Stanley Portier said...

Well, after all I passed: 78%