The Open Assessment Platform in Action

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Posted by Howard Eisenberg

I was impressed, during the recent Questionmark European Users Conference, to meet so many people who have been using Questionmark’s Open Assessment Platform to create solutions that address their organizations’ particular needs. These customers have used various elements of this platform, which utilizes  standard technologies, to address their specific challenges. These solutions make use of the readily available APIs (Application Program Interfaces), Questionmark Perception version 5 templates and other resources that are available through the Open Assessment Platform.

Some examples:

By incorporating the functionality of JQuery (a cross-browser open source JavaScript library) into Questionmark Perception version 5, the University of Leuven in Belgium has been able to set up client-side form validation. Their case study presenter demonstrated how to  differentiate between required and optional questions in a survey. Participants could be required, say, to answer the first question and third questions but not the second—and they wouldn’t be able to submit the survey until they answer the required questions. They also showed how a participant could be required to provide the date in a specific, pre-determined format.  And they demonstrated an  essay question that includes a paragraph containing misspelled words, which students identify by clicking on them. Customizations like these make creative use of the templates in Perception version 5 and demonstrate that it’s an extensible platform with which users can create their own tailor-made solutions.

A staff member from Rotterdam University demonstrated a technique for creating random numeric questions using Microsoft Excel and QML (Question Markup Language). This solution makes it possible to base questions on randomly generated values and other well-chosen variables, allowing for limits on lower and upper boundaries. Formulas in Excel make it possible to generate the numbers that appear in word problems  generated using  QML, which in turn can be used to create various iterations and clones of typical math question types.  QML— because it is complete, well structured and well documented – is proving its worth as a tool for generating large numbers of questions and even for providing “smart” feedback: Common mistakes can be diagnosed by establishing certain conditions within a question. For example, If the input is supposed to  be a number rounded to the nearest tenth and the correct answer is 55.5, it can be assumed that a person who put down 55.4 as their answer has probably made a rounding error.

Random conversations revealed other innovations such as automating the creation of participants, their enrollment  in appropriate groups and the scheduling of their assessments — all made possible through the use of QMWISe (Questionmark Web Integration Services environment).

It feels to me as if we have reached a threshold where the Open Assessment Platform is really being embraced and put to imaginative use. The stories I heard at the conference were certainly eye openers for me; I think that innovations like these will inspire other Questionmark users to come up with equally innovative solutions. So I am looking forward to hearing more great case studies at the 2011 Users Conference in Los Angeles! (The call for proposals is now open, so if you are a Perception user now is the time to think about how you would like to participate in the 2011 conference program.)

Learn to Customise Questionmark’s Participant Interface — in London!

Mel Lynch headshotPosted by Mel Lynch

Ever wondered how to customise the participant interface so that it conforms to your organisation’s style guides while also meeting your users’ requirement?  Then you’ll be happy to know that our training course on ‘Customising the Participant Interface in Questionmark Perception Version 5’ soon will be held for the first time ever in the UK (and Europe for that matter!).

The two-day course, which is set it to follow the 2010 European Users Conference, will be held in London on October 12th and 13th.

Participants will look under the hood of Perception’s participant-facing software, which includes login and assessment list screens as well as assessment delivery and feedback screens. Learn about tools, techniques and best practices for customising the interface templates. Then apply what you are learning through hands-on exercises that are based on the needs of real-world Perception users.

If you’re registered for the 2010 European Users Conference – then you’ll be even happier to know that all delegates are able to register for the course at a very special discount.

Click here
for further course details or to sign up.

An example of a translated assessment

john_smallPosted by John Kleeman

In an earlier blog entry on Translatability in Questionmark Perception Version 5, I explained how Questionmark Perception version 5 allows you to translate questions and assessments. You can either translate interactively within the Questionmark software or else export to XLIFF XML to allow translating with an external translation package.

I thought you might like to see an example of a translated assessment, so here is one. As you can see, a translated assessment can fit within a frame just like any other assessment. The participant chooses a language and can then see the questions, answers and feedback all in that language.

Contact us if you’re interested in using our software to produce translated assessments.

Assessment Accessibility: A View from the Inside

Screen shot of assessment showing text sizing and contrast controls

Posted by Joan Phaup

Alan McCabe, a developer in charge of building Questionmark software, brings to his work a strong interest in making assessments accessible.

As someone who is partially sighted, Alan speaks from personal experience in this brief podcast about the accessibility tools we have provided in Questionmark Perception version 5 to accommodate the needs of participants with a variety of disabilities.

You can learn more about accessibility measures within Questionmark Perception by reading John Kleeman’s previous post on this subject and by taking a sample assessment on our try-it-out page. Look for the buttons at the top right of the screen, which allow you to change font size and change contrast.

German Symposium Announced for April 29, 2010

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Posted By Sarah Elkins

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a one-day symposium in Berlin, Germany this April, which will provide the opportunity for our German Users to gather and learn about the latest developments from Questionmark and best practices in online assessment management. This year’s event will highlight the new features available in Questionmark Perception version 5, as well as providing technical training and case studies from experienced Questionmark Users. Questionmark Symposia are also a great opportunity to network and learn from other users and speak directly with Questionmark senior management. If you’d like to attend, make sure you sign up today and take advantage of the early-bird discounts!

http://www.questionmark.com/deu/seminars/symposium.aspx 2009 German Symposium

The symposium is one of many Questionmark user events that take place around the world each year. As I write, many Questionmark Users are preparing to gather in Miami, Florida, for the three-day Questionmark Users  Conference. Online registration for the conference, which includes case studies, technical training, sessions on best practices, peer discussions and many other learning activities, ends on March 9th.

Translatability in Questionmark Perception Version 5

john_smallPosted by John Kleeman

Making assessments and questions translatable was a key goal for Questionmark Perception version 5.

There always has been a need to translate assessments, particularly in countries like Switzerland and Canada, which have have different languages within their borders. But the Internet has made the world much more connected, and so many organizations have employees and stakeholders in different countries or speaking different languages. Some typical translation needs that fed into version 5 were:

  • A bank that operates in many parts of the world and wants to deliver course evaluation surveys (level 1s) to participants in training in many languages. It’s crucial for them that they can schedule the assessment and allow their participants to choose the language in which the assessment is taken
  • A telephone company that trains employees in Europe and wants to give similar questions to all employees. They want to author the questions once and then translate them for use by training teams in each country.
  • A university that creates and delivers questions in English but is expanding internationally, is in partnership with universities overseas and wants to translate some of its material into other languages
  • A software company that deliver certifications to consultants and partners worldwide in around 20 languages and needs assessments and questions translated so that the certifications can be given fairly to anyone who speaks the languages they support.
  • A manufacturing support company that authors questions in English and then translates them into 8 European and Asian languages for delivery to their partners and employees worldwide.

Some customers use external translators and want Questionmark to export XML that translators can use in specialist tools, whilst other customers have internal expertise and want to translate in house and need screens within Questionmark Perception to make the translations themselves. For all customers, it’s not just the initial translation that they need help with but the management of the process. When questions change, if you have them translated into a dozen language, it’s a nightmare to keep track manually of what needs updated, and Questionmark software needs to flag when a question has changed and remind you to update the translation.

The basic concept of Questionmark’s translation management system is that you create a question in a base language and then translate it into as many target languages as you want. And then you do the same with an assessment.

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Questions and assessments are linked so that you can report across language.

And to do the translation, you can translate in Perception by typing in the text in a simple user interface shown below.

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Translating within Questionmark Perception works well if you have an in-house translator, but if you are working with external translators, it’s usually best to export to XML and send them the text to translate – and they will return it to you to import into Perception. Text is exported in an industry standard XML called XLIFF that standard software packages used by translators can process.

Whether you translate interactively or by export to XML, Questionmark keeps track of when questions change in the base language and prompts you to update translations to keep translated questions up to date. So we help you not just manage the initial translation process, but also the ongoing process of translations as questions and assessments change and evolve.

We’re very excited about how easy it is to translate questions in Perception version 5, and we look forward to your feedback as you use it to create quizzes, tests, exams and surveys that can be used in many languages.