Steve Lay on Integrating SharePoint with External Systems

Posted by Julie Delazyn

Microsoft SharePoint’s popularity as a collaboration environment for everyday work tasks makes it a readily available environment for learning functions — an idea that fits in well with the 70+20+10 learning model.

Questionmark Integration Product Owner Steve Lay points out the possibilities and challenges of integrating learning functions into an existing portal environment in a recent post on John Kleeman’s SharePoint and Assessment blog.

In that post, Integrating with SharePoint: Intranet to Internet, Steve identifies issues such as integrating identity and authentication between SharePoint and external systems, notes the progress being made toward using externally hosted tools together with SharePoint and offers some links for people interested in more details.

The post is well worth reading if you are interested in SharePoint integration. For insights on many other integration-related themes, check out Steve’s own blog.

Embed a quiz to engage learners?

Posted by John Kleeman

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a big fan of embedding assessments within learning for more effectiveness and also of using SharePoint as a learning platform. But how useful are they in practice?

I was very excited to speak with a Questionmark user who both embeds assessments in learning and uses SharePoint!  Peter Jochumzen is project leader for a SharePoint-based learning platform at the University of Lund in Sweden. The University has 45,000 students and is the largest in Scandinavia. They embed Questionmark quizzes as web parts within SharePoint and use Questionmark assessments for course evaluations, knowledge check quizzes and to measure progress and achievement.

One tactic Peter’s team find useful is to embed a video at the top of the page and a quiz at the bottom You can see an example in the screenshot below.

Screenshot from University of Lund showing SharePoint and Questionmark Perception

I asked Peter if it was effective embedding assessments on the same page as learning material, and his comment was:

Yes. Extremely successful, especially for distance courses. Because it is so hard to convince the students that they need to start working on the course right away. The students tend to be myopic, and believe they are much cleverer than they are!

They tend to postpone opening the books and beginning their studies. So with integrating quizzes in the learning material, they are sort of forced to do that. We have deadlines for various quizzes that they have to do, so we basically make them start working on their course, earlier than they would have done otherwise. I think that is the single biggest benefit of using quizzes – to get students engaged in their studies more quickly.

You can see a fuller interview with Peter Jochumzen’s on his use of SharePoint and Questionmark together at sharepointlearn.com. Click here to learn more about embedded assessments.

So what do we mean by assessments anyway?

Posted by John Kleeman

When one person talks about assessments, they might mean something different to someone else. The best definition I’ve seen of assessment is from our CEO, Eric Shepherd: “any systematic method of obtaining evidence by posing questions to draw inferences about the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and other characteristics of people for a specific purpose.”

You may have seen that Eric and I, along with our colleague Brian McNamara, have just published a white paper called Learning and Assessment on SharePoint. As well as describing how assessments can be used in Microsoft SharePoint, it also describes how assessments fit into the learning process. Here is one of the diagrams from the white paper, showing how assessments are used at specific times during the learning process:

Assessments during learning

For each type of the assessment in the diagram, here is what we mean by them:

  • Job Task Analysis – given to those doing a job to harvest data about their activities in order to determine instructional goals and objectives
  • Needs Analysis – given to groups of people to determine the types of learning opportunities that should be made available
  • Pre-Learning Test – given as preparation prior to a formal learning event to promote intrigue, establish benchmarks, and gather data to help the instructor
  • In/As Learning Assessments – given during work and learning experiences to improve memory recall and to correct misconceptions
  • Of Learning Assessments – given to establish what has been learned and whether a person is qualified
  • Course Evaluations – provide feedback to help improve the environment and make it more conducive for learning
  • Slow Forgetting Curve – given to provide retrieval practice, which helps learners strengthen memory and potentially improve skills.

For more information, check out our white paper.

Including a Questionmark Knowledge Check within SharePoint is easier than you think

Posted by John Kleeman

Many Questionmark customers use SharePoint within their organization. Microsoft SharePoint is a fantastic tool that lets non-technical people create collaborative web sites, and SharePoint is a great system to deploy assessments in for learning, training and compliance.

One of the easiest ways to include an assessment inside SharePoint is as a knowledge check – you can easily put a Questionmark Perception assessment beside some learning content as in the screenshot.

embed assessment sharepoint 2010

Putting a knowledge check in a SharePoint page gives three benefits

  • The learner can check he/she understands
  • The learner gets retrieval practice to reinforce the learning
  • As author, you can run reports to see which parts of the learning are understood or missed

In order to help people get the benefits of using assessments inside SharePoint, Questionmark have launched a new blog http://blog.sharepointlearn.com which focuses on SharePoint and assessment. This will allow us to run more detailed articles on SharePoint and assessments than the main blog can.

SharePoint is a lot easier to use than many people think. You don’t need administrative rights or programming skills to do most things. At the Questionmark Users Conference last week, I ran a session where people added an assessment in a sandbox site in just a few minutes. You can include an assessment inside SharePoint using the Page Viewer Web Part, which most people who can edit SharePoint pages have access to – if you want to give it a go, here are some instructions from the new blog.

Conference Close-up: Using Questionmark to Reinforce Learning within SharePoint

Posted by Joan Phaup

Questionmark Chairman John Kleeman

We’re especially pleased to have Questionmark Founder and Chairman John Kleeman on board as one of our best practice presenters at this year’s Questionmark Users Conference. As the person who wrote the original Questionmark software, John has more than 20 years’ experience in the learning industry and has participated in several industry standards initiatives. Lately he has been turning his energies to interfacing with other thought leaders and understanding the dramatic changes that are taking place in how people learn and the increasingly important role assessment is playing within learning.

John’s conference presentation on Using Questionmark Perception to Make SharePoint an Effective Learning Platform will show how participants can use Questionmark assessments within SharePoint to measure and reinforce learning, using both products out of the box. Here’s a quick Q&A about his plans for that session:

Q: Could you talk a little about SharePoint and its growing role in learning, training and compliance?
A: The great thing about SharePoint is that it’s a really easy system for putting together websites, without needing programmers. If you want to put up learning material or training material it’s easy to do so with SharePoint. And at least half of companies and universities already have SharePoint, so it’s easy for people to make things happen quickly.  With the improvements in SharePoint 2010, in blogs and wikis, and with stronger version tracking making it more useful for compliance, there’s growing application of SharePoint in learning and training.

Q: How do you envision Questionmark enhancing learning for SharePoint users?
A: There’s a lot of evidence that people who answer questions after learning something tend to remember it better; that if you take a quiz then it gives you retrieval practice to stop you forgetting what you have learned. By embedding an assessment on a learning page you allow people to get retrieval practice, and you can also check their comprehension of what they have been read. They can check their own knowledge, and you can also look at the aggregate results to see how well people have understood something. If you see a question that people consistently get wrong, you can identify misconceptions and improve the content. This takes very little work, so putting Questionmark assessments on a page in SharePoint or other systems is a fantastic combination.

Q: How could Questionmark be used to measure social learning within SharePoint?
The majority of what people learn happens on the job and in learning from colleagues and mentors, not in formal learning. It’s social learning. SharePoint is so prevalent in many organizations that it’s a great way to share news and information or process documents. Putting a knowledge check on a page is a great way to see how much people are absorbing. Breaking up larger assessments into smaller chunks that relate to specific parts of a page is a great way to reinforce this kind of learning – just-in-time and just-enough assessments.  SharePoint is a set of building blocks that you can put together to help learning, and you can just mash in assessments to fit your needs.

Q: How easy is it for someone to incorporate a Questionmark assessment within SharePoint? What tools make this possible?
A: If you’ve got Questionmark Perception version 5, it’s really easy, because of the auto-sensing and auto-sizing capability. Perception can sense the size of the frame it’s running in and automatically fit an assessment into the space. You just use SharePoint to determine the size of the frame or window you want to use and put the Questionmark quiz into that space. SharePoint is an end user tool, so people can just configure SharePoint in a browser and put things together themselves.

Q: Have you come across any interesting examples of assessments being used with SharePoint?
A: I think a lot of people are finding that putting training programs into SharePoint saves them a lot of money. I found one example of a large company that had a training program that would have cost them $600,000 to provide face-to-face. In SharePoint it cost $45,000. It’s a very practical system to get something up and running within a few days.

Q: What do you expect participants  to gain from this session?
A:  I’d love participants to be able to go back to their organizations, find their SharePoint installation and start putting assessments into it. You don’t have to be a technical wizard to do this. It doesn’t require help from IT. It doesn’t require technical skills, you can just go do it.  Anyone who comes to the session, I promise they will know how to put an assessment into SharePoint.

Take advantage of the early-bird registration discount and save $100 by registering for the conference by January 21st.

Embedding Assessments in Microsoft SharePoint

Screenshot of Questionmark Assessment embedded in SharePointThere are several ways to use Microsoft SharePoint within your organization.  One of the easiest things you can do is embed a Questionmark Perception survey or quiz within SharePoint.

  • To see how this would look, see a snapshot of an assessment embedded within SharePoint.
  • Check out this How-to on our developer Web site.
  • Microsoft’s SharePoint is increasingly used to manage and provide access to learning content. In addition to embedding assessments into SharePoint blogs, portals and wikis, you can provide single sign-on access to assessments by using a standard SharePoint page-viewer web part (if your organization uses Windows authentication) or by using Questionmark’s SharePoint Connector, an add-on that integrates Perception with Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2007 (SPS).

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