Crab cakes, customers and cool code in Charm City

John Kleeman HeadshotPosted by John KleemanHarbor View

I’ve just back from the Questionmark user conference in Baltimore “Charm City”, famous for its delicious crab cakes.

The best crab cakes let the flavour of crab shine through the other ingredients that hold the cake together. Similarly, with a conference, the main ingredient is the learning we take home with us. The other things that hold the event together – the networking, social events and discussions that take place – make the learning very enjoyable.

Here are six trends I observed last week:

1. Scaling up works well and is commonplace. Many Questionmark users have high volumes without drama. One case study at the conference told of a company deploying Questionmark with SAP in two months to deliver safety qualification assessments to 35,000 employees. And another told of delivering 2.3 million Questionmark assessments in 2012.

2. Authoring improvements. Our recent web-based authoring improvements are exciting users. In the 25 years we’ve been operating, Questionmark software has always been about enabling users to easily create, deliver and report on tests, quizzes, surveys and exams. There is a lot of excitement about what we’ve introduced recently in web-based authoring of questions and assessments, especially the way people can easily collaborate and see and review changes in items.

3. Acceptance of the Cloud. Some organizations prefer to deploy on-premise, others deploy in the Cloud with Questionmark OnDemand, and we support both. With other HR systems moving to the Cloud, more Questionmark customers are looking at moving to OnDemand. One influence is that SAP is telling all its HR customers that the future for them is in the Cloud with SuccessFactors; people are thinking “if you’re using SAP in the Cloud, then it makes sense to use Questionmark there, too”.charles networking

4. 70:20:10 is a given, and people are learning how to use it. Charles Jennings keynote was not without its controversies – many people still believe in the Kirkpatrick and Phillips models of learning evaluation, but he suggests levels 1, 2 and 5 have dubious validity in today’s learning environment. But there is widespread acceptance that the 70:20:10 model makes sense in corporate learning – that we learn 70% of what we learn on the job, 20% from others and only 10% from formal learning. There are questions around how you assess workplace learning – observational assessments are many people’s answer, and how you combine 70:20:10 with mandatory compliance training and ensuring people learn to work safely.

5. New methods of secure delivery matter. The availability of Questionmark Secure for use with Macs is making it easier for organizations, especially universities/colleges, to use a secure browser for delivering exams. People are also starting to use remote proctoring via organizations like our partner, ProctorU. Mobile assessment delivery is also now real not just being experimented with.

6. Cool code makes a difference. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how HTML 5 will make a difference to user interfaces and it’s great to see this happening for real. Questionmark is using HTML 5 to make our authoring and delivery interfaces easier and more natural. See for example this video: How to create hotspot questions for quizzes and tests. Code like this is exciting our customers and is going to provide very compelling web interfaces moving forwards.

I hope you enjoyed this and our other blog entries about the conference. We do our best to share about Questionmark and assessment remotely, but if you have a chance to attend one of our US or European user conferences in person, I promise you will learn and gain value.

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