German Symposium Announced for April 29, 2010

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Posted By Sarah Elkins

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a one-day symposium in Berlin, Germany this April, which will provide the opportunity for our German Users to gather and learn about the latest developments from Questionmark and best practices in online assessment management. This year’s event will highlight the new features available in Questionmark Perception version 5, as well as providing technical training and case studies from experienced Questionmark Users. Questionmark Symposia are also a great opportunity to network and learn from other users and speak directly with Questionmark senior management. If you’d like to attend, make sure you sign up today and take advantage of the early-bird discounts!

http://www.questionmark.com/deu/seminars/symposium.aspx 2009 German Symposium

The symposium is one of many Questionmark user events that take place around the world each year. As I write, many Questionmark Users are preparing to gather in Miami, Florida, for the three-day Questionmark Users  Conference. Online registration for the conference, which includes case studies, technical training, sessions on best practices, peer discussions and many other learning activities, ends on March 9th.

Technology-enabled Learning: Exploring differences worldwide

julie-smallPosted by Julie Chazyn

What makes technology-enabled learning and assessment different in the rest of world? Language instantly springs to mind when we consider what sets one country apart from another. But other differences need to be considered, too, when deciding how best to use technology- enabled learning and assessments.

A recent post in Questionmark CEO Eric Shepherd’s blog explores the differences that arise when you cross social, economic and geographical boundaries.  Eric poses the question: Apart from Language, What Challenges Make Technology Enabled Learning and Assessment Different in the Rest of the World? He then identifies four key points that might drive us to use different kinds of assessments depending on where we are in the world:

  1. Invalid Assumptions About Internet Connectivity (Internet connectivity will create dramatically different experiences for a student in the Amazon and a student in the USA or Europe)
  2. Cost of Internet Device – The cost of purchasing a computer or PDA  in Europe or North America represents a fraction of an average annual salary, whereas in some areas of the world the cost might be 6 – 12 months of an average person’s salary. The resulting use of smaller, lower cost, generally mobile devices in poorer areas of the world calls for the re-sizing of content to accommodate them.
  3. Conformance with Local Laws: Laws regarding data privacy, accessibility and equal access vary from country to country.
  4. Culture: Contrasting value systems can cause different cultures to think differently about such aspects of assessment as cheating. Cheating may be thought of as solidarity within a culture that promotes collectivism and loyalty. 

For more insights on this subject and many others, visit Eric’s blog at http://blog.eric.info.

Breakfast Briefings Coming to Three UK Cities in May

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Posted By Sarah Elkins

Registration for our U.K. Breakfast Briefings is now open! They will take place on three days in three cities: May 11 in Manchester, May 12 in Edinburgh and May 13 in London.

Breakfast Briefings are a great way to learn about online assessment technology and find out about the newest technologies and services  from Questionmark. They’re also a great opportunity to meet other assessment professionals in your area and talk with Questionmark staff.

This year we’ll be sharing the latest from Questionmark, including:

  • How to create learning mashups by embedding quizzes in wikis and portals
  • Using auto-sensing and auto-sizing to deliver assessments to mobile devices
  • Creating items with Questionmark Live
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Plus much more!

If you’re new to online assessment this is a great opportunity to see the technology in action, and talk with Questionmark staff about the best solution for your organisation. If you’re already a Questionmark customer come along to join us for breakfast and see recently released features and those that are coming soon! Click here to sign up for Manchester, London or Edinburgh.

Questionmark Users Conference: Here’s the Full Program

Joan Phaup

Posted by Joan Phaup

The program for the Questionmark Users Conference in Miami March 14 -17 offers something for every Questionmark Perception user, whether they are just starting out or have been using Perception for many years. Here’s the complete line-up of conference sessions.

The conference will also include opportunities to meet one-on-one with Questionmark product managers and technicians, and to attend networking events.

General Sessions

  • Opening General Session: Conference kick-off
  • Keynote: Dr. David Metcalf on “Assessments on the Move: Mobility, Mashups and More”
  • Closing General Session: The Road Ahead

Customer Case StudiesMiami

  • Integrating Questionmark Perception and SAP for Employment Testing
  • Streamlined Training and Assessment at NPPD: Integrating Perception with SAP Learning Solution
  • Using Flash and Captivate in Questionmark Perception
  • Questionmark Live: Distributing the Workload and Increasing Accessibility
  • Many from One: Creating Hundreds of Questions to QML Import Using Excel
  • Question Bank as a Knowledge Tree: Sowing the Seeds of Knowledge
  • Questionmark in Dental Education: Why, How and Lessons Learned
  • Establishing a Broad National Certification Network Based on Questionmark
  • Questionmark Perception as a Central Component of a Training Strategy
  • Perfecting the Test Through Question Analysis
  • The Cloud School: Learning and Assessment for Underserved People in Brazil

Tech Training

  • Introduction to Questionmark Perception for Beginners
  • Advanced Authoring Techniques Using Authoring Manager
  • Planning Your Migration from Perception v4 to v5
  • Configuring the User Experience and Understanding Templates in Perception v5
  • Analyzing and Sharing Results with Enterprise Reporter
  • Using Perception for Evaluations and Other Types of Surveys
  • Methods for Integrating Perception with Other SystemsDeco Drive, South Beach

Best Practices

  • Item and Test Analysis Analytics
  • Making Your Assessments Available and Accessible to All
  • Questionmark Live Item Writing Workshop: Bring Your Own Laptop!
  • Technical Standards and Questionmark’s Open Assessment Platform
  • Conducting Validity Studies within Your Organization
  • Effectively Measuring Knowledge, Skill and Ability with Well-crafted Assessments

Peer Discussions:

  • Strategies for High-Stakes Tests
  • Shaping the Future of ADL SCORM: What’s On Your Wish List?
  • Using Questionmark To Facilitate ROI strategies

Drop-in Demos

  • Options and More Options: Different Ways to Deliver Your Assessments
  • What’s New in Perception Version 5?
  • Tools/Features to Enhance Your Use of Perception

Register for the conference and join us in Miami!

Conference Close-up: Technical Standards and Questionmark’s Open Assessment Platform

Posted by Joan Phaup

The program for the  Questionmark Users Conference is full of informative sessions about everything from item and tests analysis analytics to techniques for writing assessments measure skill and ability as well as knowledge. Questionmark Intetegration Team Lead Steve Lay will conduct a session on Technical Standards and Questionmark’s Open Assessment Platform.

Q: What’s your role at Questionmark?

Steve Lay

A: I’m the Integration Team Lead, so I look after all aspects of the product  concerned with integrating Questionmark with other systems — both within an organization and over the Internet.  I am Product Owner for our Connector products, which enable integrations of Questionmark Perception with other key systems such as Sharepoint Portal Server, Blackboard, Moodle and others. And I am heading our Open Assessment Platform Initiative.

Q: You just mentioned the Open Assessment Platform. How would you describe that?

A: We’re creating a software platform as a way of making Questionmark the perfect complement to other systems people have within their organizations. We are documenting, in an open way, how you can interact with Questionmark software at both the Web service and Web development level to make integration projects go smoothly and easily.

Q: What standards will you be discussing during your Best Practices session?

A:  I am going to be talking about some of the standards in development now that we are are looking at as having the potential for support in the future.  The IMS Global Learning Consortium, for example, are in the process of publishing an interesting specification about how learning tools can be put together – learning tools interoperability.  I will also be talking about standards for exchanging data about people, IMS Learning Information Services and specifications from HR-XML — and the possibilities they open up for synchronizing people and organizational information with Perception. I’m also be going to talk about some of the more generic standards that might be having an impact on us too, such as XHTML 5 and the emerging standards for authentication and authorization such as OpenID and OAuth.  And of course, I’ll be touching on SCORM, too, although I will also be co-facilitating a separate discussion devoted entirely to the future of SCORM with Daniel Rehak from Advanced Distributed Learning.

Q: How do you see people using the information they learn in your session?

A: I hope people get a deeper understanding of what’s happening in some of these developments and take that back into their own organizations in order to figure out the impact the standards will have on them. As well as providing feedback to Questionmark, I’d like them to feel able to talk about their requirements with all their suppliers and understand how they can influence the ongoing standards process. I hope people take a way more than just the acronyms and what they stand for – I’d like them to get some ideas about how they might start conversations within their own organizations to help them prepare for future adoption.

Q:  What are you looking forward to most at the conference?

A: Of course, like every Product Owner, I’m looking forward to meeting all the new and returning customers!  It will be good opportunity to talk in a little more depth with people about integration issues, how they are thinking of using the new version of Perception and what opportunities our Open Assessment Platform presents. I have to add that I’m looking forward to a bit of sunshine as well!

Learn more about the many  conference activities by visiting www.questionmark.com/go/conference. And register soon to attend the conference, which will take place March 14 – 17 in Miami.

Questionmark Conference Close-up: Making Assessments Accessible

Posted by Joan Phaup

John Kleeman

Making Your Assessments Accessible and Available to All will be presented by Performance Solutions Specialist Cheryl Johnson and Questionmark Chairman John Kleeman during the Questionmark Users Conference March 14 – 17 in Miami. Cheryl brings a strong commitment to accessibility and usability to her work as an instructional designer as well as a trainer. She has been inspired by seeing how technology can dramatically expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities. I am looking forward to seeing Cheryl at the conference and would like to share my recent conversation with her:

Q: Could you tell me about your work as an instructional designer?

Cheryl Johnsoon

A: I’ve been involved with many  corporate and government training programs over the years. Although I have developed some instructor-led training, I’ve worked primarily on elearning. Lately I’ve been moving into social learning, mobile learning, high-level simulations, and gaming.

Q: Let’s talk specifically about the subject of accessibility: could you discuss your experience with that?

A: In the mid-nineties I started training people to use assistive technologies. That was before assistive technology was really considered a productivity tool. Back then it was only about making information and technology accessible to people. There really were no tutorials or any good training out there, so I started writing my own training with the motivation of reducing the amount of tech support I had to provide to the people I’d trained! A few years later I was living in Utah and often had to train people remotely. My learners were primarily vocational rehabilitation clients, and sometimes I would  be training just one person at a time. It was not cost-effective for me to drive long distances to train one person. I worked with a colleague to develop what would have been called in those days a “distance learning” program to help people use voice recognition technology effectively.  He went on to patent the technology, called VoiceWindows (http://www.voiceteach.com/), as an online tutorial. It is a tutorial on voice recognition technology and its use with various software applications.  In addition there are many macros built into it to increase productivity when using voice recognition technology. I have also trained many quadriplegics and have seen the huge impact technology could have on the quality of their lives, in some cases opening up work opportunities. Technology can open up a lot of possibilities and help make people be more productive both inside and outside the workplace.

Q: What are the key things people involved with assessment need to know about accessibility?

A: It calls for being creative and thinking differently about things. When I teach classes on accessibility I explain some rules: things like 508 compliance and the various standards people need to meet. But people get frustrated because they don’t know how to meet those requirements using what they have. Section 508 compliance really is just the basic standard. It’s more about making sure  the person can access that information rather than whether is it really usable. I try to focus on helping people make information and technology usable as well as accessible. There are no written rules out there for doing that, so creativity is key. I recommend that when organizations are designing assessments or learning materials, they have people who use the technology on the design team from the very beginning. They know their technology. They know how things work. And they can suggest alternative ways of achieving something. That might mean taking a hot spot question, which would require the use of a mouse, and making text links for the hot spot areas so that someone who’s unable to use a mouse can answer the same question using a keyboard.

Q: What do you hope people will take away from your presentation?

A: An understanding of how important it is to make sure that people who use assistive technology are part of their design team. A realization that quite often people who use assistive technology are sometimes novice users and need clear direction and instructions in using it for a particular application—for example a  particular assessment that you have adapted for their use. People with disabilities like to use interactive tools and want as rich a learning and assessment experience as everyone else.  And of course,  enthusiasm for finding creative ways to make assessments more enjoyable, usable and effective for everyone. John will be showing how Questionmark Perception addresses accessibility and usability issues. He’ll be covering what you have to do to make your assessments in Perception accessible, so that will be a major takeaway, too!

Q: What are you looking forward to at the Questionmark Users Conference?

A: I’m excited to meet people who want to make high quality learning and assessment available to everyone. That’s exciting to me, because I’ve spent many years fighting that battle! I also have to admit I’m looking forward to the cruise on Tuesday night!

Join Cheryl, John and our many other presenters for three days of learning and networking. Check out the conference program and register today!

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