As part of our B Corp commitment to help purpose-driven organisations, we were really happy to offer free training to Internet Watch Foundation's development team in C# and .NET
The Internet Watch Foundation [IWF] is a registered charity based in Cambridge, whose activities combat the availability of online sexual abuse images and videos, particularly of children. Funded by tech companies, membership fees and the public, the charity offers a number of tools and services including an IWF Hotline, which provides a safe and anonymous place to report suspected material.
The IWF proactively searches the internet for criminal images and videos and, using a ground-breaking tool built by its tech teams, grades them. This generates a unique ‘hash’ (digital fingerprint or label) which is used to identify and eliminate these images wherever they appear. Once an image has been hashed, it can be recognised quickly, and the IWF Hash List can block thousands of criminal images and videos from ever being uploaded in the first place.
The charity builds tech-for-good to help protect children online and technology is at the centre of everything it does. The Technical Department, headed up by the Chief Technical Officer, runs the organisation’s servers and manages the IWF Hotline and user queries.
As Head of Software Development, Chris Wilson’s role includes writing the software that runs on the charity’s hardware.
As a Certified B Corp we are committed to helping purpose-driven organisations wherever we can. We were really happy to offer free training to IWF’s development team in C# and .NET.
When our Technical Director, Tom, contacted the IWF to outline this commitment and explore any training needs the charity may have, Chris considered the timing to be perfect and aligned with their current business needs.
The Technical Team had
recently recruited a new university graduate and had identified that, although
their course had covered programming languages and how to architect software,
it did not necessarily provide students with the opportunity to apply this
knowledge in the real world. They also had another new joiner in the team who
needed to get up to speed.
IWF has a very varied stack but a relatively small team. It writes its offering in Java and a blend from third parties and other organisations, and so their language of choice is C#. In addition, they have around seven or eight other languages and stacks to integrate it with.
As a result, the team needs the ability to write code from scratch and be proficient in C#. The two new joiners, although highly skilled and familiar with other scripting languages such as PHP, did not have the required level of experience in using C#.
During scoping discussions, Tom asked Chris to summarise the technical stack at IWF, to ensure the training content would be fit for purpose and relevant.
Chris’s view was that the initial course proposed may have been too high level for the delegates who were at the start of their career, and so we came up with an ‘off-the-shelf’ entry-level course that worked for them. Chris was impressed with our flexibility and keenness to propose a hands-on solution that matched IWF’s specific business needs and existing skill set.
This quarter, Framework
Training delivered a C# and .NET Framework workshop for two
delegates at IWF, with training delivered via Zoom by Owen. The delegates
learnt the basic fundamentals, which gave them the ability to start picking up
basic projects to read other people’s code bases.
The IWF were very pleased overall with the workshop; it provided the foundation required and the delegates found the content useful and relevant.
It was noted by Chris that the .NET framework is large, with a considerable amount of content to get to grips with and, therefore, the subject can be inherently overwhelming for people who have not worked with it before.
However, the delegates were able to acquire the basic knowledge needed to further progress in their roles at IWF and returned from the workshop armed with language features to try out, such as LINQ which were new to them. The delegates were impressed, as it provided a different insight they potentially may not have discovered without the training.
They were especially pleased
with the practical, interactive tasks set by Owen and the opportunity to write
code. This was in contrast to other programming training courses that Chris has
experienced, which tended to be content heavy but lacked practical tasks.
The two delegates rated Owen highly for his friendliness and approachability and particularly liked his clear explanations and demonstrations during the workshop.
Finally, Chris was especially impressed with how Tom spent time during scoping discussions to ask questions and listen carefully, getting to know the IWF, its work and the specific and unique technology it uses to protect children online. He believed that Tom was genuinely interested in the work that the IWF does, and this left a strong impression.
The IWF has already been able to measure the impact of the training. It has helped the delegates to really get off the ground in their roles and transfer the knowledge acquired into productive work.
The Technical Team at IWF follows the Agile Scrum methodology, doing work in ‘sprints’ and assigning tickets. Since the training, the new graduate is picking up work on their main tooling and has completed eight feature tickets on the .NET systems; effectively, a 100% increase since he was not assigned this task prior to the training. This is particularly rewarding for both the delegate and IWF, as he was fresh out of university prior to the training.
Chris notes that some of the code bases at IWF are vast and complicated, and when entering into a new framework and coding language such as .NET, there is a structure to the file system that a new user needs to familiarise themselves with. The C# and .NET Framework workshop has enabled the delegates to reach the jumping off point and know where to start.
In addition, Chris can now delegate tasks to the new joiners that are more appropriate to their level, such as queries around the User Interface. This frees up his and his Developers time and allows them to focus on more strategic tasks.
The training was effective, fulfilled its purpose and met IWF’s specific business needs and Chris found it a very positive experience overall.
As a result, Framework Training is now on the list of IWF’s preferred suppliers and they would consider using our technical training services again if any further business needs were identified.
We’d love to help with any of your technical training needs - whether off-the-shelf, or tailored to your needs - please get in touch below and we'll get right back to you.