Adding and removing users from a shared Question Set in Questionmark Live

julie-smallPosted by Julie Delazyn

I wanted to share a  feature in Questionmark Live that has proven to be both very popular and very important.

Questionmark Live offers the ability to easily share question sets with subject matter experts (SMEs) who are not part of your Questionmark Support Plan.

This is designed to help you share and revise your question sets with as many SMEs as your require, in order to create strong and defensible assessments.  After sharing your questions with SMEs it is easy to remove them from the list of users and un-share your questions.

Read this Knowledge Base Article and follow the directions outlined in the text.

Military Users of Questionmark meet in Pensacola, Florida

julie-smallPosted by Julie Delazyn

I enjoyed attending yesterday’s Military Breakfast Briefing and Users Group Meeting in beautiful, sunny Pensacola yesterday.

This was a full house, with more than fifty attendees from military bases in the Southeast. We began with an agenda-setting session that focused on the use of Questionmark Perception reports, demonstrations of browser-based authoring in Questionmark Live and examples of mobile assessment delivery. Other important themes for this group were software security and compliance with Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS).

In the afternoon, Perception users had the opportunity to drill down into more detail about coming product features, talk with Questionmark staff and network with colleagues.

While this was a special regional event for military customers, we have also been running public Breakfast Briefings and User Group meetings in several major U.S. cities. The last of these will take place on Tuesday, November 9th, in Agoura Hills, near Los Angeles. A Breakfast Briefing in the morning will be followed by a  User Group lunch and in-depth discussions.  If you are in the Los Angeles area that day, I’d encourage you to attend!

Military customers will have an opportunity to get together in Los Angeles, too, at the Questionmark 2011 Users Conference next March. Judging from the energy level at the Pensacola meeting, I think they’ll have plenty to talk about!

QMWISe, Portals and Single Sign On

I had a great time at the European Users Conference in Amsterdam.  Thanks to Stoas for their key role in making this wonderful event happen! Stoas are a learning consultancy based in Holland that provides Questionmark Perception-based solutions to education and business there.

As Questionmark’s integration products owner, I was especially interested to see  plenty of sessions that looked at integration issues, from customizing the templates used during assessment delivery right through to integrations with customer portals. I wish I’d had the opportunity during the conference to attend some of the best-practice sessions that were timetabled alongside my own. Fortunately, the conference has a dedicated space on our Community Spaces system and many of the presentations are appearing there so that I can catch up — thank you!

One session I did get an opportunity to go to was a session presented by Stoas themselves on their use of QMWISe (with a bit on templates). QMWISe is the name of our web service application programming interfaces (APIs). With QMWISe, system integrators can link assessment management into their other systems. It also allows programmers to create custom user interfaces to suit their own processes.  QMWISe is a key component of our open assessment platform.

I liked the way the presenters talked about how they distinguish between single sign-on and what they described as “single log-on”. Traditionally, single sign-on means a single challenge followed by access to multiple systems. For example, you might be prompted for your user name and password when you log in to your company portal and, from there, access many of your organization’s systems without having to identify yourself again.

With a common, weaker form of single sign-on, the same identity is used across multiple systems even though the user is challenged separately as they access each one. Stoas used the term single log-on when referring to the stronger requirement and demonstrated a system that used QMWISe to obtain a single log-on from a customized learning portal into Questionmark Perception. The presenters went on to show us an interesting dashboard view that used a blend of QMWISe and custom database queries where no suitable API exists (yet!).

The difference between sign-on methods can be quite subtle. I expanded on some of the common models of providing participant access in my own best-practice session. For workers or students with personal computers, a familiar pattern is a “remember me” checkbox. This causes the Web site to store the access credentials in the user’s Web browser as cookies, reducing the need for a single log on. (Windows Authentication on PCs works in a similar way.)

In the future, single-sign-on complexity seems likely to be handled directly by the system administrators who install and configure Web servers. Plug-in modules for web servers are now available that allow an organization to choose from a variety of different authentication systems (also known as “identity providers”) to protect the web applications they host.  For on-demand services, standard protocols are emerging that allow customers to link to their chosen identity providers without having to host the Web application at all.

Now I am looking forward to the U.S. 2011 Users Conference, where I hope to hear some more excellent presentations.

Embedding Questionmark Assessments in MindTouch

Embed a Questionmark Perception survey or quiz inside MindTouch.

  • To see how this would look, view a snapshot of an assessment embedded within MindTouch page.
  • Check out this how-to on our developer Web site.
  • MindTouch is an open source enterprise documentation platform used by enterprises or for enterprise collaboration and as a wiki platform.  It is also used for rapidly developing social business applications. To embed a Perception assessment within a MindTouch page you will need to embed your assessment in an IFrame using an html code.

The Open Assessment Platform in Action

howard-headshot-small1

Posted by Howard Eisenberg

I was impressed, during the recent Questionmark European Users Conference, to meet so many people who have been using Questionmark’s Open Assessment Platform to create solutions that address their organizations’ particular needs. These customers have used various elements of this platform, which utilizes  standard technologies, to address their specific challenges. These solutions make use of the readily available APIs (Application Program Interfaces), Questionmark Perception version 5 templates and other resources that are available through the Open Assessment Platform.

Some examples:

By incorporating the functionality of JQuery (a cross-browser open source JavaScript library) into Questionmark Perception version 5, the University of Leuven in Belgium has been able to set up client-side form validation. Their case study presenter demonstrated how to  differentiate between required and optional questions in a survey. Participants could be required, say, to answer the first question and third questions but not the second—and they wouldn’t be able to submit the survey until they answer the required questions. They also showed how a participant could be required to provide the date in a specific, pre-determined format.  And they demonstrated an  essay question that includes a paragraph containing misspelled words, which students identify by clicking on them. Customizations like these make creative use of the templates in Perception version 5 and demonstrate that it’s an extensible platform with which users can create their own tailor-made solutions.

A staff member from Rotterdam University demonstrated a technique for creating random numeric questions using Microsoft Excel and QML (Question Markup Language). This solution makes it possible to base questions on randomly generated values and other well-chosen variables, allowing for limits on lower and upper boundaries. Formulas in Excel make it possible to generate the numbers that appear in word problems  generated using  QML, which in turn can be used to create various iterations and clones of typical math question types.  QML— because it is complete, well structured and well documented – is proving its worth as a tool for generating large numbers of questions and even for providing “smart” feedback: Common mistakes can be diagnosed by establishing certain conditions within a question. For example, If the input is supposed to  be a number rounded to the nearest tenth and the correct answer is 55.5, it can be assumed that a person who put down 55.4 as their answer has probably made a rounding error.

Random conversations revealed other innovations such as automating the creation of participants, their enrollment  in appropriate groups and the scheduling of their assessments — all made possible through the use of QMWISe (Questionmark Web Integration Services environment).

It feels to me as if we have reached a threshold where the Open Assessment Platform is really being embraced and put to imaginative use. The stories I heard at the conference were certainly eye openers for me; I think that innovations like these will inspire other Questionmark users to come up with equally innovative solutions. So I am looking forward to hearing more great case studies at the 2011 Users Conference in Los Angeles! (The call for proposals is now open, so if you are a Perception user now is the time to think about how you would like to participate in the 2011 conference program.)

Briefings & User Groups Set for Bethesda, Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles

Joan PhaupPosted by Joan Phaup

If you find yourself in the Washington, D.C., Ft. Lauderdale or Los Angeles areas during the next few weeks, you may have some great learning and networking opportunities in store.

Questionmark Breakfast Briefings and User Group Meetings are scheduled in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 21st, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on October 26th and Agoura Hills, near Los Angeles, on November 9th.  The briefings will take place in the morning, with current Questionmark users gathering for lunch and in-depth discussions right after each briefing.

Beginners can get a general introduction to Questionmark Perception at the Breakfast Briefings, which will also show participants how to:

  • streamline how subject matter experts create and share questions and other assessment content
  • help multiple authors to work collaboratively in developing and managing content
  • leverage mobile devices such as smart phones or the Apple iPad for delivering assessments
  • enhance the learning process with quizzes and other online formative assessments
  • conduct observational assessments
  • integrate tests/quizzes in SharePoint to complement and measure the impact of learning content
  • gain a better understanding of your assessment results and how to communicate about them

Questionmark customers who attend User Group Meetings will spend some quality time together over lunch, learn about coming product features and talk in depth with  Questionmark managers about technical issues, best practices and any other topics.

We hope you will be our guest for at least one of these events. If you are a Perception user and would like to attend both events 0n the same day, please register for them individually. Click here for Breakfast Briefing details and registration — and here for User Group participation.

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