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.

Brussels-bound for a full conference programme 9th – 11th October

Posted by Jane Townsend

In less than two weeks, Questionmark users will gather in Brussels for the Questionmark European Users Conference.

Delegates will enjoy a full programme, with lots of choices  — from case studies to presentations about best practices and training sessions on the use of Questionmark technologies.

Networking opportunities will include our hot n’ happening “Speak Easy” evening event.  If you are attending the conference, get your lucky charms ready for a big night out!

Here’s the complete conference line-up. Click here for details about all these sessions: 

General Sessions:

  • Conference Kick-off and Opening General Session
  • Assessment Security : The Stakes are Getting Higher

Tech Training

  • Introduction to Questionmark Perception for Beginners
  • Using Questionmark Reporting and Analytics Tools
  • Methods for Integrating Perception with Other Systems
  • Planning your Migration from Perception v4 to v5
  • Customising the Participant Experience
  • Delivering Assessments to Mobile Devices

Case Studies

  • Practical Tips for Sustainable Large scale e-Assessment – University of Bradford
  • Deploying Questionmark Perception v5 Globally at HSBC
  • Automated testing of assessment delivery performance using JMeter –  Rotterdam University of Applied Science
  • Extended Essay Editor – Complete process for managing both Question and Answers – Nocada IT-Konsult  and IT-Arkitekterna Västerås
  • Online Assessment at the University of Graz
  • e-Assessment in Dental Radiology: observing the future – University of Dundee
  • Deploying and Using a Blackboard-integrated Questionmark Module Evaluation System- University of Glamorgan
  • Questionmark can be more than Questionmark: Connections, integrations and optimising the deployment – ECABO
  • Using Questionmark to create and mark paper-based exams – Harper Adams University College
  • User attitudes towards online testing at Aberystwyth University

Best Practices

  • Using Save as you Go? Technical and other security aspects of test taking – Leen Vegter, Stoas
  • Using “Regular Expressions” when Importing Questions from a Word or Excel Document- Gregory Furter,  EMLYON Business School
  • Using the Latest Learning Research to Improve Your Questionmark Assessments – John Kleeman,  Questionmark
  • Using Web Services to Integrate with Questionmark Perception – Steve Lay,  Questionmark
  • Using Captivate and Flash Simulations in eLearning and Assessments – Doug Peterson,  Questionmark
  • Using Questionmark Perception to Make SharePoint an Effective Learning Platform – John Kleeman, Questionmark
  • Discussing successful implementation strategies – Esther van der Linde, HAN University
  • Play the Game Digital Assessments: is your organisation ready? – Michel Kao, HAN University
  • Using QMWise to Customise Questionmark Perception- Mauro Chieppa, Stoas

We’ll also be hosting  group discussions with our product owners about potential new offerings. You can register for the conference online or email euconference@questionmark.co.uk more information.

Conference Close-up: A corporate perspective on global learning

Posted by Jane Townsend

As the Questionmark European Users Conference draws closer, we are looking forward to many customer presentations along with sessions on using Questionmark technologies effectively and following best practices.

We’re pleased to have Matt Bushby from HSBC – a multinational banking and financial services organisation —  on the conference program. Matt will present a case study on the challenges HSBC faced consolidating its global learning programs while at the same time upgrading to a newer version of Questionmark Perception. This new system will put content at the fingertips of employees throughout the world, but a secure, integrated deployment on such a large scale presents some special challenges. I talked with Matt this week to find out about his plans for the conference.

Matt Bushby and friends!


Tell me about your work at HSBC.

I am the UK assessment specialist, which means I’m responsible for the consultancy, design and build of online assessments within HSBC’s UK bank. Any assessment we do, any or question we do, basically comes across my desk. I’m also the global subject matter expert for Questionmark within HSBC, so if anyone has any issues, has a problem or wants to know how to do something, they come to me.

So you’re very, very busy!

Yes, that’s the word I’d use!

How are you using assessments at the bank?

Within the UK we use it for Regulatory testing. So job roles that fall under the governance of the Financial Services Authority take compliance assessments via Questionmark, through our SumTotal learning management system. We also use Questionmark assessments for non-regulatory, high-stakes testing too.  Elsewhere in the HSBC Group, some of our people also use Questionmark for quizzes, but here in the UK we focus on higher-stakes, secure assessments.

What are you going to talk about at the conference?

I’ll be describing the special challenges of working with a corporate environment – from the point of view of a large multinational corporation. In addition to upgrading to a new version of Questionmark Perception, we joined up numerous different learning management systems into one global system. This has will enable the sharing of content in a far more effective way, but it was a massive task.

The challenges involve how you scale the system so people still have access to it while, at the same time, IT maintains centralised control of the servers. How do you efficiently update the database from one version of Perception to another? How do you manage multilingual assessments?  How do you handle test security? How can the global SME best share knowledge about assessment management  with colleagues in Hong Kong or South America? And what issues are involved in collaborating with test authors from many different countries?

I’ll talk about some of the pitfalls and challenges we’ve faced and the solutions we’ve worked out.  I’ll also talk about the support Questionmark has given us to make a template customisable for different languages.

What are you looking forward to about the conference?

The thing I like most about the conference is the networking. It’s sitting with other people. It’s talking about our experiences. It’s a chance to catch up with people from Questionmark. I have a really good working relationship with Questionmark support, and we talk on the phone – but it’s important to take time to put faces to names, to link up, to work on the relationship. I like being involved with the product, the company and the customers – and to find out how they do things.

Click here to learn more about the conference and register soon!

Conference Close-up: Options for Integrating with Questionmark Perception

Posted by Jane Townsend

I’m pleased that Steve Lay, Questionmark’s Integration Team Lead, will be with us at the Questionmark European Users Conference in Brussels to talk about various ways to integrate Questionmark Perception with other systems.

Steve’s presentation will focus on using QMWISe (Questionmark Web Integrated Services Environment) to integrate with Questionmark Perception.

Steve Lay

I asked him for a few details about his subject:

What are the key methods for integrating Questionmark Perception with other systems?

The first and simplest is something we call PIP – Perception Integration Protocol. This enables people to create special web links that in turn allow participants to go straight in to launch and take a test. We can even include things like single sign-on in this type of integration.

The second is to use package standards — such as SCORM or AICC – which internally build on the PIP protocol and provide a standards-based approach to integrating with learning content.

Our other method of integration, called QMWISe (Questionmark Web Integrated Services Environment), is a web services-based integration. You have to be a programmer to work with QMWISe, but the reward is a much more powerful integration, for example the synchronization of people information with Perception. You get many more options with this method, which more than compensates for the extra work needed at the programming stage.

Could you tell me more about the more powerful integrations that QMWISe makes possible?

With QMWISe, you can automatically schedule assessments to people and manage other aspects of the assessment process in a variety of ways. It can be used in a portal to integrate user data and for single sign-on: you can then connect straight through from the portal to Perception. It enables the synchronization of people information from, say, HR systems or student information systems:  in particular you might track changes to the people information held in these external systems. Custom programs can then push these changes through QMWISe to Perception.

The QMWISe method also enables users to develop deeper connections to LMSs. This is the technology we use in our Connectors such as the integrations with the SAP Learning System and Blackboard.

How are customers using QMWISe at the moment?

Perhaps the most popular way we are seeing customers use QMWISE is to integrate something like an external portal with Perception. This could be something like a Learning Management System (LMS) or a company portal. They typically provide single sign-on and show information about assessments that are available. They often find that this can be done more easily than they think by using QMWISe. Customers often use QMWISe to synchronize people information, as I mentioned before.

Who will benefit from attending your presentation?

In my opinion anybody who is thinking of doing integration with Perception will benefit. They’ll have the opportunity to find out what the options are, although we’ll be looking at web services integration in particular. People interested in deeper integration will benefit the most from the presentation. We’ll show a couple of typical applications to get things started. So if you’re using one of these common applications you’ll find something you can identify with and may even get to take home some recipes you can work with.

We hope you will be able to join us at the conference from 9 to 11 October. Click here to register.