Some Citrix Item Development Workshops Experiences

Over the last year I had the privilege of attending three item writing development (IDW) workshops at Citrix. All three were great experiences for many reasons.

XenServer 6.0 IDW, Hotel, Santa Clara

I signed up to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) last spring and was invited to the XenApp 6.5 CCA, CCAA, CCEE IDW in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in June, the XenServer 6.0 CCA in Santa Clara, CA in August, and the CCEE Virtualization using Citrix Technologies in Ft. Lauderdale in November.

I've met and continue to keep in communication with dozens of  very talented and knowledgeable architects, engineers, administrators, trainers, Citrix employees, and more from around the world, which is one of the greatest benefits of being a Citrix SME.

I've learned so much from the IDWs that I could probably write a whole book on it, but instead, I'll be brief.

I have been writing practice exams for over ten years, and I believe the practice exams have gotten better through the years, but writing exams at Citrix and experiencing how Citrix Education writes, reviews, tests, etc, their exams - not to mention the pride and hard work that they put into it - showed me that I had much improvement to make with my own practice exams.

CCEE Virtualization using Citrix Solutions, Citrix, Ft. Lauderdale

Just a few things that I learned were:

1. The scenario should have just enough information for the test-taker to be able to answer the question without having a lot of extra information added just to confuse or trick the test-taker.

2. The distracters (wrong choices) should be actual configurations or tools that an architect, engineer, or administrator can do or use. They can't be made up out of thin air and they have to be related to the objective. For example, in a XenServer exam, if the choices were: "a. multipath; b. active-active NIC bond; c. active-passive NIC bond; d. worker groups" - "d. worker groups" would obviously not fit the choices for the objective, scenario, or question, so it would automatically be ruled out.

3. The correct answer must be the ONLY correct answer of the listed choices (or answers in the case of multi-choice) and be able to defend the correct answer with documentation or by documenting exactly how it is done or used. If there isn't documentation, the writer must be able to describe how they configured or used the feature or tool that is the correct answer.

That's just the tip of the iceberg of what I've learned, but those are three of what I consider the most important tips.

XenApp 6.5 IDW, dinner, Ft. Lauderdale

It's not all work and no play though. Citrix treats us first-class while we're there. We're fed very well each day, and isn't that the most important part of a work day?! We get great accommodations in the hotel and transportation. We go out as a group for dinner and entertainment at least a couple times a week (none of the dinners or entertainment are mandatory, but I personally take advantage of all of them if I can). There are several more benefits and it makes the week an even greater experience.

At the IDW I attended in November, all of us SMEs and usually a Citrix employee or two, went out each night and had a great time. I find that it helps everyone get comfortable with one another and work together more effectively during the day - as long as it's not a long night - and it rarely is. We are usually back to the hotel by 11:00pm.

I look forward to attending many more IDWs in the coming years and meeting more great professionals from around the world. It's an experience that I would highly recommend to anyone that is invited.

Learn more about how to be a SME at Calling All Subject Matter Experts.

XenApp 6.5 IDW, walking off into the sunset, South Beach, FL

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