Make the Grade with Testing Software

By Abernathy, Donna J. | Training & Development, September 1998 | Go to article overview

Make the Grade with Testing Software


Abernathy, Donna J., Training & Development


Here's a roundup of software that can help you work smarter. It may be time to dump the No. 2 pencils and plug in to testing.

Computers are great tools for testing, and the increased availability and security of the Internet has made the argument even stronger. If you've never used testing software, there is a learning curve for test makers and takers. But once you learn the how-tos, it can help make your work life simpler. And smarter.

Testing software helps you create skill and knowledge tests, deliver them to learners, and store test results for analysis. Some software has built-in, subject-matter tests that let you skip much of the creation process. You can deliver tests via CD-ROM, disk, email, Internet, and network. Of course, you can also print out computer-generated tests and administer them the old-fashioned way - by paper and pencil. (It's nice to have options!)

Most testing software includes password protection, a random-question feature, and built-in reports. Some have multimedia options that let you add pictures, video, and audio to tests. If you have a multilingual workforce, you may want to consider multilingual software. An important consideration when selecting software is whether it is Year-2000 compliant. That basically means the software can handle dates after December 31, 1999 - not that far away.

You can use course-authoring software (such as ToolBook II) to construct tests, but this roundup is a look at software that's exclusively for creating, distributing, and analyzing tests.

To help you sort through some options and locate a product that fits your organization's needs, Training & Development surveyed several testing-software providers. This Software Roundup reviews product features, workstation specifications, software compatibility, and prices. Contact information is provided.

RELATED ARTICLE: What To Look For

Here are some guidelines for selecting test-authoring software. Before you begin evaluating any software, ask some questions to determine what your organization needs.

Ease of use

* Does the software require external training or have a high learning curve?

* Who will be authoring tests - programmers, instructors, someone else?

Growth

Can the system grow as your testing needs grow? Consider pricing, modularity, and support.

Pricing.

What's involved past the initial cost of the software?

License upgrade.

Can you economically start small and add more users as needed? Updates.

Does the vendor offer free software updates (new releases within a major version, usually version.x, such as 3.1)?

Version upgrades.

When new versions are released (4.0, 5.0), are upgrades offered to current customers at a reduced price? Modularity.

Can you buy the modules you need now and add the others later? …

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