Coming soon to South Africa: A full conference programme by and for Questionmark users!

Chloe MendoncaPosted by Chloe Mendonca

Questionmark users gathering in Midrand, South Africa 21-22 August have a variety of sessions to look forward to. The programme for the South African Questionmark Users Conference is almost finalised and now includes a range of customer case studies as well as sessions about Questionmark features and functions.

We’re especially pleased to have Jim Farrell, who leads Questionmark’s product management
team, on board as a presenter. Jim has more than 20 years’ experience in the world of education and assessments and will share some of the latest
developments in Questionmark’s browser-based authoring tool and cover the newest Reporting and Analytics features.

This event is for Questionmark customers as well as individuals interested in learning more about Questionmark’s technologies.

Why attend? Here are some excellent reasons:

  • Write better assessments: Questionmark experts will share advice about effective assessment authoring
  • Learn from your peers through case studies: discover strategies that have helped other users to save time and money and compare your organisation’s practices to theirs
  • Influence the product roadmap: explain to Questionmark’s product managers what you need from your assessment software
  • Get face time: there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings with people who understand the opportunities and challenges in your work
  • Professional development opportunity: take advantage of this opportunity close to home

If you’ve already made plans to be there, we’re looking forward to seeing you! For those who haven’t signed up, we hope you will register and join us!

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Reflections on Barcelona: Great learning, great connections

Doug Peterson HeadshotPosted By Doug Peterson

I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Questionmark European Users Conference in Barcelona, Spain, November 10 – 12. Questionmark2013_DSC3268 If you’ve never had the chance to go to Barcelona, I highly recommend it! This is a *beautiful* city full of charming people, wonderful architecture, and GREAT food.

Traveling and seeing new sights and engaging in new adventures is always fun, but the true “stars of the show” at a users conference are, of course, the users.

It was wonderful to catch up with customers I first met two years ago in Brussels. I also had the opportunity to meet in person several people I had met over the last couple of years only through emails and conference calls, and it was great to put a face with a name. And of course, it was wonderful to make brand new friends whom I hope to see again next year!

One of the things I enjoy the most about Questionmark Users Conferences is how customers learn from each other. This happens in a more structured way during the many sessions presented by members of our user community, but I enjoy it even more when it happens more informally.

During the opening reception Sunday night I had the opportunity to talk with several customers, to hear why they were attending – what they wanted to get out of the conference – and then introduce them to another customer or a Questionmark employee who could help them meet their goals for the conference. Breakfast and lunch conversations were always interesting, and even during Monday night’s fantastic dinner at El Torre Dels Lleones, the conversations between different users facing various challenges continued (except, of course, when we were all watching the flamenco dancers perform!). These conversations are simply invaluable, not only because customers help each other find answers to their challenges, but because I as an employee gain insights and a depth of understanding as to what our customers are doing and the problems they are facing in ways that an email or a phone call can’t communicate.

Questionmark2013_DSC3125Tuesday morning we tried something new during the General Session. Howard Eisenberg gave an informative presentation on item writing best practices, and at certain points he would pause so that each table could discuss the current topic amongst ourselves. Then he would take comments from some of the tables before moving forward with the next topic. The conversations at the table where I was sitting were GREAT! The sharing of different perspectives and experiences resulted in a lot , “Oh, I never thought of that!” expressions all around the room. THAT’S why I love going to our users conferences:  there’s just nothing like the information exchange and growth that takes place when a bunch of Questionmark users gather together in one place.

If you weren’t able to make it to Barcelona, I hope you can come to San Antonio, Texas, March 4 – 7. We’ll be right on the city’s River Walk. I’ve been there several times visiting family in the area and, I can tell you it’s beautiful and FUN! Please join us. I’m confident that by the end of the conference you will agree that it was time well spent.

Better testing drives better instruction — An update from the Questionmark Users Conference

Joan Phaup HeadshotPosted by Joan Phaup

My headline came from yesterday’s pre-conference workshop on Critierion-Referenced Test Development led by Sharon Shrock and Bill Coscarelli.

Sharon’s brief remark is a fitting theme for what’s happening this week in Baltimore at the Questionmark Users Conference, as assessment and measurement professionals come together to make testing and assessment better than ever — and as a result doing so much to improve learning.

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Last night’s dessert reception brought Questionmark customers and staff back together again for our 11th annual conference.

The opening general session gave us a preview of what’s to come during some of the concurrent sessions, which will include:

  • bring-your-own laptop instruction in the use of Questionmark Live browser-base authoring
  • demonstrations of  Questionmarks’ new OData API for Analytics
  • sessions on incorporating mobile delivery into assessment programs
  • customer case studies
  • a session on best practices for leveraging SharePoint in a learning infrastrucure
  • a presentaton about secure testing in remote environments
  • a brainstorming session about possibilities for ADL’s new Experience API

We are looking forward to tomorrow’s keynote address by Charles Jennings of the 70:20:10 Forum on Meeting the Challenge of Measuring Informal and Workplace Learning.

This is a special conference for us, as we are also celebrating Questionmark’s 25th anniversary! We’re excited to be learning and celebrating with customers, and we look forward to these next few days. You can follow the conference and learn some new things on Twitter at #QMCON, so check in whenever you like.

Celebrating two e-learning awards

julie-smallPosted by Julie Delazyn

At Questionmark we are all about our customers.  Through case studies and the US and European users conferences we listen to your stories and experiences and learn how to shape our product to suit your needs.

We’re pleased that our efforts have been earning the attention of the wider learning community and are honored to have recently received e-learning awards from both sides of the globe:

Jeff Place receives our eLearning! award

  • 2011 Best of Elearning! Awards, based on nominations by the readers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! publications, cover 26 categories  of enterprise learning solutions and workplace technology products and services.  We are  very pleased to be winners in the “Best Assessment Tool” category  We’ve been recognized in this award program since 2007.

Our customers’ suggestions and support have made all this possible  – so we thank you!

Engaging with Customers Worldwide

julie-smallPosted by Julie Delazyn

Over the past few months we have been engaging our customers all over the world and are grateful to have such a diverse customer base. Lately we’ve held the US Users Conference in Miami, a German Users Symposium in Berlin and meetings for users in Bangalore, Mumbai, Australia and South Africa as well as breakfast briefings in three UK cities. Looking forward, we are busy planning the European Users Conference in Amsterdam, to be held in October.

We are pleased about the growing number of events we are able to hold around the world and will continue connecting with our customers wherever they are — bringing them opportunities to discuss best practices and learn to use our technologies effectively while enjoying some great networking opportunities.

Learn more about our in-person events or, if you can’t physically make it to a briefing or a users’ meeting, join us online at our Web seminars.

Assessment standards 101: AICC

john_smallPosted by John Kleeman

Effective assessment often needs to be integrated with other systems. Some integrations are proprietary, but wherever possible Questionmark tries to integrate using technology standards, as these are longer lasting than proprietary solutions and allow us to build one solution which can work for many customers.

Over the years Questionmark has been involved in many standards initiatives, and I thought I’d share in a series of blog articles a personal perspective of some of the key standards that impact assessment.
I’ll start with the standard commonly called AICC or AICC HACP (more formally AICC AGR-10), which is used by learning management systems to call assessment content. Millions of Questionmark assessments are called each year via AICC, and it’s the most successful of all the standards we use.

The AICC is an aviation industry organization founded in 1988, the same year Questionmark. Airlines and airplane makers wanted a way to deliver computerized learning to help people maintain planes that could last the 20 years or so years that the planes themselves would last. The original AICC standard was file based but was soon updated to work over HTTP.

In an assessment context, the AICC standard allows launching and tracking of an assessment:

1.  A Calling Application (for instance an LMS) calls an assessment system saying that it wants to start an assessment.

2.  The assessment system asks the Calling Application for the details of which participant and which assessment.

3.  The Calling Application replies and the assessment starts.

4.  At the end of the assessment, the score is passed back to the Calling Application for tracking.

A key reason the AICC standard is robust and successful is that there is direct server-to-server communication. The two pieces of software communicate directly by HTTPS, and so there is no possibility of disruption or interference by anything at the participant workstation.

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I was introduced to the AICC standard in the 90s by Bryan Chapman (now an e-learning analyst) and Questionmark supported it as a way of making it easy for people with LMSs to call Questionmark Perception assessments. We first became certified to the AICC standard in 1999 and we’ve been re-certified several times since. The great thing about the AICC standard is that it really works: Because it’s been tried and trusted over many years, I can think of at least 25 different vendors that Questionmark has interoperated with using this standard, ranging from PeopleSoft and Sun down to much smaller vendors.