Questionmark Conference Close-up: Making Assessments Accessible

Posted by Joan Phaup

John Kleeman

Making Your Assessments Accessible and Available to All will be presented by Performance Solutions Specialist Cheryl Johnson and Questionmark Chairman John Kleeman during the Questionmark Users Conference March 14 – 17 in Miami. Cheryl brings a strong commitment to accessibility and usability to her work as an instructional designer as well as a trainer. She has been inspired by seeing how technology can dramatically expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities. I am looking forward to seeing Cheryl at the conference and would like to share my recent conversation with her:

Q: Could you tell me about your work as an instructional designer?

Cheryl Johnsoon

A: I’ve been involved with many  corporate and government training programs over the years. Although I have developed some instructor-led training, I’ve worked primarily on elearning. Lately I’ve been moving into social learning, mobile learning, high-level simulations, and gaming.

Q: Let’s talk specifically about the subject of accessibility: could you discuss your experience with that?

A: In the mid-nineties I started training people to use assistive technologies. That was before assistive technology was really considered a productivity tool. Back then it was only about making information and technology accessible to people. There really were no tutorials or any good training out there, so I started writing my own training with the motivation of reducing the amount of tech support I had to provide to the people I’d trained! A few years later I was living in Utah and often had to train people remotely. My learners were primarily vocational rehabilitation clients, and sometimes I would  be training just one person at a time. It was not cost-effective for me to drive long distances to train one person. I worked with a colleague to develop what would have been called in those days a “distance learning” program to help people use voice recognition technology effectively.  He went on to patent the technology, called VoiceWindows (http://www.voiceteach.com/), as an online tutorial. It is a tutorial on voice recognition technology and its use with various software applications.  In addition there are many macros built into it to increase productivity when using voice recognition technology. I have also trained many quadriplegics and have seen the huge impact technology could have on the quality of their lives, in some cases opening up work opportunities. Technology can open up a lot of possibilities and help make people be more productive both inside and outside the workplace.

Q: What are the key things people involved with assessment need to know about accessibility?

A: It calls for being creative and thinking differently about things. When I teach classes on accessibility I explain some rules: things like 508 compliance and the various standards people need to meet. But people get frustrated because they don’t know how to meet those requirements using what they have. Section 508 compliance really is just the basic standard. It’s more about making sure  the person can access that information rather than whether is it really usable. I try to focus on helping people make information and technology usable as well as accessible. There are no written rules out there for doing that, so creativity is key. I recommend that when organizations are designing assessments or learning materials, they have people who use the technology on the design team from the very beginning. They know their technology. They know how things work. And they can suggest alternative ways of achieving something. That might mean taking a hot spot question, which would require the use of a mouse, and making text links for the hot spot areas so that someone who’s unable to use a mouse can answer the same question using a keyboard.

Q: What do you hope people will take away from your presentation?

A: An understanding of how important it is to make sure that people who use assistive technology are part of their design team. A realization that quite often people who use assistive technology are sometimes novice users and need clear direction and instructions in using it for a particular application—for example a  particular assessment that you have adapted for their use. People with disabilities like to use interactive tools and want as rich a learning and assessment experience as everyone else.  And of course,  enthusiasm for finding creative ways to make assessments more enjoyable, usable and effective for everyone. John will be showing how Questionmark Perception addresses accessibility and usability issues. He’ll be covering what you have to do to make your assessments in Perception accessible, so that will be a major takeaway, too!

Q: What are you looking forward to at the Questionmark Users Conference?

A: I’m excited to meet people who want to make high quality learning and assessment available to everyone. That’s exciting to me, because I’ve spent many years fighting that battle! I also have to admit I’m looking forward to the cruise on Tuesday night!

Join Cheryl, John and our many other presenters for three days of learning and networking. Check out the conference program and register today!

Conference Close-up: Assessments That Measure Knowledge, Skill & Ability

Posted by Joan Phaup

I’ve been having a great time talking to presenters at the Questionmark 2010 Users Conference – customers, our keynote speaker and Questionmark staff. I wanted to find out from Howard Eisenberg about the Best Practices presentation he will deliver at the conference on Effectively Measuring Knowledge, Skill and Ability with Well-crafted Assessments

Q: Could you explain your role at Questionmark?

A: I manage Training and Consulting, so I work with our customers to get the most of their assessments and their use of Questionmark Perception. For some that might mean training on how to use the software effectively. For others it might mean providing solutions that allow them to use the software within the context of their current business processes, such as synchronizing the data between the organization’s central user directory and Perception. In some cases we might need to create reports to supplement those that come with the product or do some other custom development. Sometimes we go on site, install the Perception software and set it up within the customers’ LMS and do any troubleshooting right on the spot. Whatever we do, our goal is to ensure customers’ speed to success, getting them operational faster.

Q: What will you be talking about during your Best Practice session in Miami?

A:  Over the years I’ve given presentations on Creating Assessments That Get Results, where I cover the dos and don’ts of writing test items. A question that always comes up during those talks is how to write test content that goes beyond testing information recall…content that tests a person’s ability to perform a task. There are limitations to using software like Perception to do that: certain things simply require that a person perform a task and have someone observe them, so that all the scoring and evaluation is done by an observer or rater. But there are a lot of possibilities for creating computer-scored items that can measure skill and ability rather than just recall of information. This session is designed to give people tools to take their tests to that level. First we need a framework for categorizing knowledge, skills and abilities: what makes a skill a skill and an ability an ability. We’ll help people classify their learning objectives along those lines and look at specific types of questions that can be used to measure skill and ability. The questions that provide this kind of measurement expand upon the question types that are supported in Questionmark Perception—selected response types as well as constructed responses.   We’ll use several real-world examples to illustrate how questions of this nature go beyond recall of knowledge and go to skill and ability.

Q: What are you looking forward to at the conference?

A: I am really looking forward to meeting customers and in some cases reconnecting with customers I’ve gotten to know over the years. That’s really a highlight for me…reconnecting with our great customers. I am consistently amazed and impressed about how passionate our customers are about what they do with our software and how smart they are in using it. Every year, after talking with a customer or sitting in on a case study, I come away thinking, Wow! That was really clever! So I’m looking forward to hearing those kinds of stories again this year.

The conference program is nearly finalized and includes case studies, tech training and best practice sessions for every experience level.  Check it out and plan to join us March 14 – 17 in Miami!

Questionmark Live POP Quiz!

jim_small

Posted by Jim Farrell

As I traveled around the US this past fall going to Questionmark Breakfast Briefings and User Group Meetings, it was great fun to introduce participants to our new browser-based authoring tool for subject matter experts, Questionmark Live.

Since then I’ve continued spreading the word about this easy authoring tool to Questionmark Nation, so I figure it’s high time for a pop quiz on the subject! This is a low-stakes assessment, so you can just have some fun answering the questions. It’s also “open book,” so you are welcome to look for answers here!

Good luck on the quiz. Please share it with your friends and co-workers! You can try out Questionmark Live for yourself at https://live.questionmark.com. Our software support plan customers use it free of charge, but anyone who wants to experiment with it can sample it for free.

If you are using Questionmark and want to see Questionmark Live in action, come to our bring-your-own laptop Questionmark Live  Item Writing Workshop at the Questionmark Users Conference March 14 – 17 in Miami.

Going Green at the Questionmark Users Conference

Joan Phaup

Posted by Joan Phaup

As part of our efforts to make the Questionmark  Users  Conference agreener event than ever, we’re pleased to have selected a hotel that has been widely recognized for its green initiatives.

recycle

The Hilton Miami Downtown has demonstrated its commitment to preserving resources through its participation in the Florida Green Lodging Program. The program, established in 2004 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the intent of recognizing and rewarding environmentally conscientious lodging facilities in the state, is helping Florida’s lodging industry conserve and protect the state’s natural resources.

As a Florida Green Lodging Program designated facility, the hotel has formed a “Green Team” that focuses on ways to reduce impact on  natural resources. The Green Team’s efforts so far have focused on water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and clean air practices. The hotel has now uses low-flow shower heads and toilets, digital programmable thermostats, energy-efficient lighting and recycled paper products. It also utilizes  bulk purchasing and has in-room and vending area recyling bins.  There’s a comprehensive recycling program for bulbs, cardboard, paper, plastic and toner cartridges. Clean air measures include the use of high efficiency air filters and the use of environmentally sound cleaning products.

HiltonMiamiDowntown_lg

We’re also “greening” the conference by reducing the amount of paper we use, decreasing the size of our conference notebooks and  making handouts available online.  In addition, we’ll reduce our use of bottled water, create re-usable signage and provide recycling bins for badge holders, lanyards and, of course, paper!

With the excellent program we have planned for Questionmark users, we expect the conference to inspire participants with new, spring-green shoots for their assessment programs. See you at the conference March 14 – 17! Our $100 earlybird registration ends January 22nd, so register soon!

Early-birds: Register for the Questionmark 2010 Users Conference by Friday!

 

Posted by Joan Phaup

We’re fast approaching the first early-bird deadline for the Questionmark 2010 Users Conference. RLB_3816

If you register by this Friday, December 4th, you will save $200 off the full registration fee.  The conference program is taking shape, so check out some  session titles on the schedule-at-a-glance.

Case study topics include Integrating Perception and SAP, Using Flash and Captivate with Perception, and  Distributing the Workload and Increasing Accessibility with Questionmark Live. You will also see some Best Practice and Tech Traning topics listed. There are more to come, so keep checking the site.

The  Conference offers great opportunities for technical training on Questionmark Perception as  well as instruction on how to write better assessments. Delegates will see the latest Questionmark product developments and will influence what happens next. Meeting other Perception Users and learning from their experiences is another major plus of attending the  Conference. There’s really no better place to RLB_4087immerse yourself in learning how to get the most from your assessments.

If you missed our podcast with keynote speaker Dr. David Metcalf, click here and spend a few minutes listening to our conversation about the future of assessment.

….and remember to register! We look forward to seeing you in Miami March 14 – 17, 2010!

Podcast: Dr. David Metcalf on New Trends in Assessment

 

Posted by Joan Phaup

Talking with Dr. David Metcalf, who will be the keynote speaker at the Questionmark 2010 Users Conference in Miami, is an eye-opening experience!

In his work at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, David is constantly engaged in the future of learning and assessment. As a research faculty member, he is responsible for inspiring innovation in the field of learning and performance. And as an independent researcher, analyst and consultant, he guides business transformations for learning organizations.  A recent conversation with David gave me a taste of what’s in store for us at the conference in his address, Assessments on the Move: Mobility, Mashups and More.DavidMetcalf06

The conference will be about the here-and-now as well as the future, with tech training sessions to bring people up to speed with the latest features and functions of Questionmark Perception. Case studies, best practice presentations and peer discussions will round out the program, along with drop-ins with the Questionmark technicians and focus groups led by our product managers.

Our earlybird registration deadline is looming on December 4th, so it’s a good time to get acquainted with  the conference Web site and start making plans for a trip to Miami next March 14 – 17.

In the meantime, take a few minutes to ponder the future of assessment as you listen to this podcast: