Security, Reporting and Online Testing in Academia: A Q&A with Don Kassner

Julie ProfileI recently spoke with Don Kassner, who has joined Questionmark as vice president of academic markets. I wanted to take a moment to welcome Don and to ask him a few questions about his extensive background, his new job role and his hopes for the future. Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Don Kassner, VP of academic markets, Questionmark

You have had an extensive career. What is your background, and how has it influenced the insight you have on the learning and assessment world?

At heart, I am an entrepreneur.  I started my first business when I was 8 years old and have been starting and building things ever since. In the last 15 years or so I have focused on technology, training and education. During that time, I have served as the CFO for an auto dealership training company and as president of a small university in addition to founding and building the largest online proctoring company. I have also served on the faculty of San Jose State University (economics) and have been an active member of multiple onsite accreditation evaluation teams.

Now that you are part of the Questionmark team, can you share a little about your new role and the goals you have for this position?

I am excited to reach out to the academic markets and address ongoing concerns around testing.

Colleges and universities want to deliver tests and exams that are consistent, fair, reliable and defensible. They want to deliver and monitor course evaluations, identify knowledge gaps and place students in appropriate courses, and be able to analyze questions to determine which ones are valid and fair. They want to do this while increasing student satisfaction and reducing cheating.

With Questionmark’s extensive security, reporting and analytics tools, that’s all possible.  My focus is to leverage my insight and experience and put this secure and easy-to-use tool in the right hands.

Can you share some of the important topics surrounding the academic markets that are on your radar?

In academia, there are real issues related to online testing. These are the top two:

  • Is the student doing the work? – With technology comes flexibility and as the stakes become higher, students will naturally look for ways to enhance their scores.
  • Are the exam results fair?  Did all the students face the same conditions with the same opportunities and were the exam rules followed?

Questionmark OnDemand, especially its analytics and reporting tools, can provide reports that can uncover the meaning hidden within assessment results, such as an item or assessment’s reliability and defensibility. In regards to security, Questionmark Secure’s lock-down browser plays a huge role in helping organizations provide a secure environment in which to deliver high stakes assessments. This can significantly help reduce the risk of cheating when deployed along with other defenses to combat impersonation and content theft.

We’re very excited to have you on board! What are your plans for keeping in touch with us on The Questionmark Blog?

Once a teacher, always a teacher! I look forward to turning back the clock to my university days and speaking on the hot-button topics that surround academic testing. My experience in education and entrepreneurship will help me as I share my thoughts on current market trends and the future of assessment and testing.

Thank you Don for taking the time to speak to us today!

You can follow Don on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn

Prevent Cheating with Randomised Assessments

Chloe MendoncaPosted by Chloe Mendonca

It’s always interesting to talk with customers and discover how they use assessments to meet their business needs. My recent conversation with Onno Tomson, – Senior Advisor at ECABO (soon to be known as eX:plain), gave me some background into the world of metadata and its effectiveness in the prevention of cheating.


Onno Tomson, – Senior Advisor at ECABO

Onno will present a session at the Questionmark 2013 Users Conference in Barcelona from 10-12 November. I was interested to know more about his presentation, “Advanced Item Banking and Psychometric Analyses with Randomly Generated Assessments.”

Could you tell me about your organization and how you currently use Questionmark assessments?

eX:plain is a knowledge centre for vocational education and professional development. We develop and hold examinations and supply the appropriate content in training for a variety of professions. Questionmark is one of our main applications. We use it for the construction and delivery of our exams, both online and on paper. We average about 200, 000 exams per year.

Why do you use randomly generated questions in your assessments, and could you tell me how this works?

The randomization of questions in our exams is an essential way to prevent cheating. We have a large number of questions included in each bank which means that each individual taking the test will receive a completely different set of questions making it impossible for them to copy one another’s answers.

What problems can arise when drawing questions from large item banks to create your exams?

First, there is the challenge of keeping a good overview of the content.

Second we need to work with large amounts of metadata to make sure the right question pops up at the right spot in the right exam and for management and maintenance purposes.

Selecting questions on multiple metadata values can have the risk of negatively impacting performance. At the conference I will share my experiences and solutions to these important issues.

What do you hope people will take away from your breakout session?

A broader insight into how Questionmark deals with metadata, how it affects your grip on content and how it can affect performance.

What do you hope to take away from the conference?

I’m looking forward to getting some updates on the development of Questionmark and my network and helping to influence the future product features by speaking with the Questionmark management team.