Back from Brussels: Remembering a great conference

Posted by Jane Townsend

Returning  from European Users Conference in Brussels, I am amazed at how quickly the time has gone by since we arrived there a few days ago.

This being my first conference, I found it really insightful and would like to thank our many guest speakers for sharing their knowledge and time. Without them there would be no conference.  I’d also like to say a big thank you to all the Questionmark staff who were so supportive throughout…Great Job!

We covered so many topics during our two days together— everything from news about Questionmark Analytics and Mobile Apps to a fascinating general session on ways to balance flexibility, participant experience, logistics and security when considering test authoring and delivery options. Getting together with customers gave us the opportunity to take stock of the innovative technologies and techniques that are changing the world of learning and assessment. 

The closing session went down well with staff and clients alike, emphasizing constant improvements to our technologies and services.

Our conferences are never complete without some fun, and we had plenty during our  “Speak Easy” event,  where fortunes were won and lost in seconds. Who will forget being  enveloped by a very large snake or losing ties, wrist watches and even their minds to a skillful pickpocket?  For more photos from the conference, check out our flickr page.

Conference Close-Up: Questionmark Connections that Optimise Deployments

Posted by Joan Phaup

With the program for the Questionmark European Users Conference filling up quickly, I got on the phone this week with one of the case study presenters, Onno Tomson.

Onno is a senior advisor at ECABO (Centre of Expertise on Vocational Education, Training and Labour Market for the economic/administrative, ICT and security professions.). Based in The Netherlands, ECABO runs a large number of tests and certifications for European organizations – everything from safety certifications for workers in the oil industry to  required tests for financial advisors.

Onno Tomson

Onno told me a little about ECABO’s longtime use of Questionmark and some of the new things they are doing. His presentation, Questionmark Can Be More than Questionmark, will explain how ECABO connects Questionmark Perception with third-party applications. It will also offer advice about how using the right tools, options and connections can improve efficiency.

Here’s our conversation in a nutshell:

Could you tell me how ECABO uses Questionmark Perception?

We create and deliver exams for four big organizations with participants in different countries. We are using Perception to create all the exams, so Questionmark is at the heart of our exam department. It’s our main software for creating all the content for several large item banks. Without Questionmark we would be doing this all by paper and pencil! Right now, we are helping one organization transition from paper-based tests to computerized tests. We use Questionmark for them too, using what we call “Questionmark to Paper “(Q2P). This is a custom-built application that uses Application Protocol Interfaces (APIs) to produce Questionmark Perception tests in PDF format and scan the results into Perception for reporting and analysis.

How many tests do you deliver each year, and in how many different languages?

We deliver tests in 12 different languages and still growing. We run 150,000  assessments a year just in the one organization running paper-based tests and transitioning to CBE (computer-based exams). In addition, we’re running 5,000 online assessments and in the end we expect to be running at least 100,000 online assessments per year. Paper-based assessments will always remain but the amount will decrease.

How do you optimize the efficiency and quality of your assessments?

We try to automate as much as possible all the steps in the process. For example, people register online and from that moment automatically a new group of participants is created and linked to a specific test center. And administrators of that test center automatically get direct access to new groups they are responsible for. The participants are also automatically scheduled for this assessment. QMWISe (Questionmark Web Integration Services environment) helps us make API connections with third-party applications, and we make the most of our Questionmark investment by using Questionmark Live, Translation Manager, Printing and Scanning, Result Warehousing and other options, plus some custom-built tools. These all help us with construction, distribution and reporting so that we can meet customer demands cost-effectively.

Could you tell me a little more about connections with third-party applications?

One of the main third-party apps is the app we created for producing paper-based exams. This application communicates using Questionmark APIs, and it can handle all kinds of variables and lay-outs, bubble sheets included. We also have a registration system that needs to talk to Questionmark, another app for sending records to our back office for invoicing, and one for connecting with a national database for certification candidates. All of these apps need to communicate with Questionmark, and we have learned a lot about using QMWISe to achieve this. I’ll be talking about that during my presentation.

How are you using Questionmark Live?

Questionmark Live is our major platform for our subject matter experts. As far as possible, construction of questions is going into Questionmark Live and from there into our production database.  We have between 100 and 200 SMEs. So being able to use Questionmark Live means that we are now getting more questions in the proper format for use in Perception instead of having to convert from documents in other formats. It’s a lot easier for us. And our SMEs are learning to use Questionmark Live for collaboration.

What are you looking forward to at the conference?

Meeting with the Questionmark staff, of course! And one of the main things I’m doing at the conference is going to Product Central and discussing how to equip Questionmark for the future. One of the things we would like to discuss is analyzing assessments using Item Response Theory.

The conference will take place in Brussels from the 9th to the 11th of October.

Check out the conference schedule and register soon.

Back to The Big Easy in 2012!

Joan PhaupPosted by Joan Phaup

While our counterparts across the pond gear up for the Questionmark European Users Conference in Brussels this October, here in the U.S. we’re setting our sights on a European city closer to home: New Orleans! We had an amazing time during our conference there six years ago and have had many requests to return.

Please mark March 20 – 23, 2012, on your calendar and plan to join us for three  fast-paced, forward-looking and fun days of  learning and networking.

We’ll share more details soon on the US conference website. For the time being, we hope you will save these dates!

Three-day Questionmark Perception training planned for Chicago, London

julie-smallPosted by Julie Delazyn

For customers transitioning to Questionmark Perception version 5 and for new users coming on board, our three-day training courses offer the opportunity to learn directly from a Perception expert.

Whether you are new to Questionmark or already have experience, this is a great way to get up to speed and start producing professional looking results more easily than you would otherwise. You can even bring some of your own surveys, quizzes or tests to enter into Perception to get some work done while you learn!

Our next U.S. course is set for Chicago June 7 – 9,  and online registration is available now. Click here to learn more about the course and sign up.

We also have U.K. training courses scheduled in London monthly from May through September.

Space is limited, so we encourage you to register early.

Web Seminars: Questionmark Basics, Perception v5, Mobile Delivery & More

Joan Phaup

Posted by Joan Phaup

One of the easiest ways to learn about different aspects of using Questionmark Perception is to spend an hour with us on a free Web seminar. We have a variety of sessions planned for spring and summer in the U.S. and the U.K. Here’s what’s currently on offer:

A Perception Orientation Webinar – Learn the basics of authoring, delivering and reporting on surveys, quizzes, tests and exams.

  • UK sessions at 10 a.m. BST (British Summer Time)  May 6, 13, 18 and 27
  • US sessions at 3 p.m. April 26, 11 a.m.  May 3 and 3 p.m. May 10 (all Eastern Daylight Time)

Creating Assessments for Mobile Delivery – Learn how to deliver a single assessment to Apple, Android and other mobile devices. See how mobile delivery can be used on its own or as part of a blended delivery strategy. Discover some key applications for mobile assessments, including surveys, quick quizzes, observational assessments and mobile testing “centers” and identify considerations for delivering online content to a small screen.

  • Scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern Time  April 27

What’s New in Questionmark Perception Version 5? – Get an overview and demonstration of Perception’s latest features, ideal for  current Questionmark users preparing to upgrade or for anyone who wants to learn about what’s new.

  • Scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern Time May 4

Questionmark Customers Online – Hear case study presentations by Questionmark Perception users.

  • Dynamically Generating Certificates from an Assessment at 3 p.m. Eastern Time May 18
  • Applying Diagnostic Assessments in a Virtual Corporate University at 1 p.m. Eastern Time June 28

Once you’ve chosen which session(s) you’d like to attend, just click on registration to sign up. We look forward to having you with us.

What’s new in online & mobile assessment? Find out at a Breakfast Briefing

Joan Phaup

Posted by Joan Phaup

Our first U.S. Questionmark Breakfast Briefings for 2010 are set for Boston and New York next week, so it seems like a good time to remind you about our annual visits to various cities. Questionmark staff look forward to greeting you at a briefing and sharing the latest news about online and mobile assessment.

Each briefing will include a complimentary breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by presentations and discussions from 8:30to about 11:30 a.m. There will be an overview of Questionmark Perception and a demonstration of Questionmark Live browser-based authoring, which makes it easy for subject matter experts to write everything from individual questions to entire assessments, including course evaluations.

We’ll cover lots of other topics  too, including:

* Delivering a single assessment to multiple devices, with centralized processing of results
* Using mobile devices such as Android phones and the Apple iPhone and iPad for quick course evaluations, observational assessments and more
* Assessments embedded within learning mashups on wikis, blogs and portals
* Integrations of Questionmark with SAP, SharePoint and other systems
* New tools for analyzing the results of surveys, quizzes and tests
* More meaningful reporting on the results of course evaluations

There will be a Questionmark User Group lunch and meeting after each of these briefings for people who are already using Questionmark Perception. User Groups offer an excellent opportunity to talk in depth about new technologies, to exchange ideas and to ask questions and get answers.

Here’s the schedule:

* Boston, MA (Woburn) –  Tuesday, September 21
* New York, NY   – Thursday, September 23
* Chicago, IL  – Monday, September 27
* Dallas, TX  – Tuesday, October 19
* Washington, DC  (Bethesda) – Thursday, October 21
* Ft Lauderdale, FL – Monday,October 26
* Los Angeles, CA  (Agoura Hills) – Tuesday, November 9

You can find complete details and sign up for a Breakfast Briefing and/or User Group meeting by visiting www.questionmark.com/go/briefings.