Qyouti: MCQ testing with QTI and scanners

Developed in response to frustration at existing high stakes MCQ testing options, Qyouti combines IMS QTI and scanning technology to provide robust, inexpensive and flexible assessment and is now available for free download from the tool’s SourceForge site.

Jon Maber, who developed the tool for Leeds Metropolitan University, describes how the tool works:

Qyouti is software which takes an IMS QTI file containing questions, a class list and prints the questions on an ordinary colour laser printer with areas for the student responses to be made in pencil or pen. I.e. the responses are marked as crosses or ticks (or just about any other kind of mark) in boxes that are right next to the options in the question paper. Every page is bar-coded with the candidate’s name and ID so it is impossible to give the marks to the wrong person. At the end of the exam the papers are scanned with an ordinary desktop scanner.  Then Qyouti processes the scanned images and produces a list of candidates with their marks [...]  Each individual script has metrics encoded on it using square barcodes and so there is potential for customising font and layout for candidates with visual impairment or dyslexia.  A proper statistical analysis is done on the question items too.

Jon is keen to find volunteers to test and help contribute to the further development of the tool, and is offering free staff training in the use of MCQs in return for significant contributions.  He can be contacted through his homepage.

Gotta catch ‘em all

I might tell myself that I hate gaming achievement systems and see them as a cynical way of artificially extending the lifetime of content while simultaneously making one loathe it, but I’m still a sucker for a challenge, even if it involves learning how to use MS Word…

Ribbon Hero (yes, I know) is a Microsoft concept test designed to help players learn more about features of Word and improve their efficiency in using them.  Rather than being presented with a cringingly patronising video tutorial, a terse set of text instructions or that paperclip, the player is given a brief task to complete, with hints available if they get stuck.  Successfully completed challenges award a varying number of achievement points depending on whether it’s finished with or without hints, within a certain timescale or with the minimum number of steps.  And it’s startlingly effective.  I learned more about the features of Word in the half hour I spent achievement hunting than I’ve done in the more than dozen years I’ve been using it before today.  By incentivising ‘working it out for yourself’, Ribbon Hero also makes the player think far more about the processes and patterns of how Word works, genuinely improving their efficiency with other tasks outside those offered by the game itself.  I was surprised at just how effective this approach was, and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see similar game-based training systems used in other products.

Spotted via the June 2010 issue of PC Gamer.

2010 ALT Awards open for entries

The annual ALT awards recognise good and innovative practice and achievement in learning technology.  Entries for this year’s awards open this month in three categories: learning technology practitioners, learning and teaching resources and effective use of video.

  • Practitioners who feel they are ‘outstanding in the use of technology to support learning’ may enter the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award by Thursday 10 June.  The award is split in two streams depending on the status of the nominee.
  • The Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition which recognises ‘exciting, innovative learning and teaching resources’ will again be presented at ALT-C.
  • Information on the ALT/Epiguem Award for the Most Effective Use of Video will be available on the site shortly.

Awards will be presented at the ALT-C Gala Dinner in Nottingham.  Good luck to all who enter!

Elluminate Live good practice guide

JISC have recently released an extremely thorough guide to using Elluminate Live for events, collaborative working and to support teaching and learning.  It provides a huge amount of information that will be of benefit for everyone from complete novices to expert users, and is available either as a Word document or as mindmaps.  We didn’t have access to this while doing our own research into an online conferencing tool for CETIS use, but it might well have helped solve some of the issues we ran into with the system.  Given current financial and environmental considerations, not to mention volcanoes and pandemics, online alternatives to traditional face-to-face meetings are highly desirable and this guide should provide good support for this as well as more innovative approaches to education.

Whatever happened to the future?

I enjoyed this presentation by Francesco Dorazio of Makers of Universes.  Originally delievered at MetaMeets 09 in Amsterdam, Everything You Know About Virtual Worlds Is WRONG looks at some of the predictions made about virtual worlds and how they’ve actually transpired in reality.

Dorazio also talks about virtual world interoperability (38-9) and introduces the concept of outeroperability (52-3): a gateway service or ‘hub’ that enables visibility of avatars across worlds without supporting portability between worlds which seems to be a version of existing or forthcoming services such as Xfire or RealID (and surely the latter is sinister enough to be going on with).

Thanks to Don Brutzman on the X3D-Public list for highlighting this.

CAA 2010 submission deadline extended

The deadline for submitting proposals for papers and posters to the 2010 International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference has been extended to Friday 14 May 2010.

This year’s conference will be held on 20 and 21 June at the DeVere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton, and is jointly organised by the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, and the Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, and as always promises to be a lively and valuable event.