Open Platform, Security and Eating Out: looking forward to New Orleans

Posted by Steve Lay

Just a few days to go until the Questionmark Users Conference.  As usual I’ve been perusing the conference programme on the lookout for sessions of particular interest to people integrating with Questionmark technologies.

One that stood out to me was Using Innovative Technologies to Aid High-Volume Testing in Multiple Environments. The team from Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education will be talking about their application which was developed in partnership with Questionmark’s Solution Services team.  If you want to get an idea of what can be achieved using our application programming interfaces (APIs), you might want to check out this session.

For people who want to get a bit more technical, I’ll be giving a session on Using Web Services to Integrate with Questionmark Perception. In that session I’ll dive a bit deeper into our web service APIs – called QMWISe – and update you on our progress towards the next generation of APIs using REST and OData – but that’s enough acronyms for one blog post!

A significant theme of the conference next week is security.  To an integration specialist, security often means protocols for authentication, authorisation and cryptographic algorithms.  But this traditional concept of security is just one part of a more complex picture.  I’m currently reading “Liars and Outliers” by Bruce Schneier, which provides an accessible survey of the wider social context from the perspective of an author traditionally associated with computer security.  I touched on some of these issues in a blog post a few months ago about a session at our European conference last Autumn.

On this theme, Richard Pierce, from  Shenandoah University will be talking about proctored versus non-proctored testing, grappling directly with the effects of the assessment setting on cheating.  You might also like to attend the panel discussion on Managing Assessment Security as the Stakes are Getting Higher.  It seems unfair to pick out just one or two sessions: as you’d expect, there are plenty more for people interested in a theme that affects every part of an assessment programme.

As usual, the product owners will be available in their own track so why not come and see us to talk about our product road maps in the Future Solutions strand?  Oh, and before I go, did I mention that I’ll also be talking about how to deploy the brand new Perception 5.4 OnPremise?

I look forward to meeting everyone, and even if you can’t make it in person don’t forget to keep up with the conference hash tag (#qm12).  Finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the conference programme, in Richard Pierce’s words:  “Where are we eating tonight? It is New Orleans, for goodness’ sake!”

See you next week!

Conference Close-up: To proctor or not to proctor?

Joan PhaupPosted by Joan Phaup

Now that we have the program in place for the Questionmark 2012 Users Conference, I’m eager to connect with people who will be leading the various breakout sessions.

Dr. Richard Pierce from Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy will be leading a discussion called  Proctored versus non-proctored: How does assessment setting affect student achievement on web-based assessments?

Richard Pierce

I got together with Richard the other day and asked him for some background on the subject.

Why do you think this topic is important?

Increases in online assessment will accompany the growth in education offerings in the future. It’s critical to ensure accountability as an educational provider. Researching the impact of various assessment models –proctored or non-proctored — provides some evidence about policies that have organically evolved over the years, which may inform future decisions regarding assessment.

Tell me about your efforts at the School of Pharmacy to study the effects on student achievement of proctored and non-proctored web-based assessments.

Our programs come in two varieties and require different assessment proctoring strategies. Our traditional students attend face-to-face and synchronous teleconferenced lectures, and assessments in those settings are proctored.  Our non-traditional students receive their instruction asynchronously and take non-proctored tests. We ask ourselves a lot of questions about these options.

For instance, are our efforts to dissuade academic misbehavior working? Is there any academic credibility to people taking non-proctored tests at home? Inquiring minds, such as curriculum committee members, accrediting bodies and instructional designers, want to use evidence-based practices to examine these questions. So we examined the efficacy and impact of online testing technologies and protocols to determine if the assessment setting — proctored in face-to-face situations or non-proctored in an online distance education setting — impacted student achievement.

What would you like to happen during (and after) this breakout session?

I would like to briefly discuss our small study and discuss where it might lead us. The School of Pharmacy hopes to integrate assessment for learning into what is now a primarily lecture-based model in order to facilitate more active classroom processes — while keeping our eye on student outcomes.  I would like to see Questionmark Perception become a reporting engine to connect various levels of analysis such as course outcomes, program outcomes, the assessment matrix, and curriculum planning.

What are you looking forward to at the conference?

My primary goal is to improve student performance through evidence-based, or data-driven, processes.  I am interested in learning more about coordinating instruction, objectives and  assessment, as well as ways to improve test construction and item performance.

I’d also like to learn how to increase faculty use of online assessment by demonstrating how Questionmark’s reporting features can improve student performance and reduce faculty work. I need to be become better versed in the language of item analysis, so I expect to learn more about that, too.

If you would like to attend the conference, check here for more information about the program and register by January 27 to save $100.