CITIZEN VS. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPERS: DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES OF SKILLS AND TRAINING REQUIREMENTS FOR LOW CODE DEVELOPMENT PLATFORMS
MCI - The Entrepreneurial School (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Throughout the last decade, the demand for software developers has been continuously increasing. This trend is visible all over the world and due to considerable investments in digital transformation initiatives across all domains, unlikely to change anytime soon. At the same time, software development environments have significantly advanced, so that today respective development tasks are often performed at a higher level of abstraction.
Low-Code Development Platforms (LCDPs) are one example for this type of high-level software development. They enable rapid development of applications with little programming experience. Previous studies have already highlighted the technical aspects of these platforms, yet the human workforce aspect has so far received rather little attention.
Individuals who develop software via LCDPs have usually little to no software development experience. Offering more opportunities to these so-called ‘citizen developers’ is thus often considered a viable solution approach that may help reduce the strong demand for professional software development personnel. However, given the rather diverse backgrounds interested people may have, training courses (both offline and online), covering the required LCDPs skills, require a rather individual design and composition.
Today, many training and education opportunities in software engineering are available. They usually focus on professional software developers.
Unfortunately, these offerings hardly fulfil the requirements of citizen developers (i.e., those who develop software via LCDPs). They rather require specific pieces of training. Hence, although, generally, it can be assumed that citizen and professional developers require similar key skills there are clear differences in required training. Consequently, training material needs to be more adaptable – even if, for reasons of efficiency, suitable existing training material may be used as a starting point.
This is where Knowledge Nuggets seems to be an appropriate approach for individualized knowledge delivery. Knowledge Nuggets are learning units organized around small and well-defined content fields. This granularity makes the content more accessible and consumable and consequently supports a personal learning pace.
The work presented in this article builds on this assumption and aims to (1) identify the specific skills needed for citizen developers using LCDPs, and (2) understand how those skills are different from those of professional developers, so as to consequently adapt existing training material into Knowledge Nugget based learning units.
We chose a qualitative research methodology collecting data from experts in the field (n=12). Guided by an interview framework, we conducted semi-structured interviews with representatives from both citizen as well as professional developers. All interviews were transcribed and subsequently analysed using qualitative content analysis. The resulting category scheme was then used as a basis to design our skill-adapted Knowledge Nuggets.
Due to the study’s small sample size our results may not be generalized. However, they point to important differences between citizen and professional developers – in particular concerning the extent and depth of the needed training units. Furthermore, they show that existing training units focused on professional developers represent a reasonable starting point to develop material that better fits the specific needs of citizen developers.
Keywords: Citizen Developer, Low-Code Development Platforms, Individual Knowledge Delivery, Knowledge Nuggets, Empirical Study, Software Development.