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Open Source for Online Testing?

Most educators seem to have an open mind about using open-source software for teaching and learning. But they might have to study up a bit more before they can use it for online testing.

That is the conclusion of a study released today(PDF) by technology research firm Grunwald Associates that fuses 81 interviews with testing, technology, and education theory experts to gauge opinions about Web-based assessment, and particularly assessment that uses open-source software.

In its discussion of open-source attitudes, one of the report's conclusions is that "educational leaders do not yet have a strong enough knowledge base about open source for them to make a truly informed decision about an open-source platform for Internet-based testing."

That lack of knowledge and understanding includes overly optimistic assumptions about the potential cost-savings of using open-source tools as well as exaggerated safety concerns that open-source software could, theoretically, be altered by just about anybody.

Still, educators are generally interested in the concept if it meets cost, security, support, and quality demands, the report says, likely because so many educators and students are already experienced in administering or taking computerized assessments. Educators in 23 of the 27 states participating in the study said they already participate or will be participating in online testing.

What is happening in your district or state? Are you moving toward more online testing? And are open-source technologies being considering as part of that move?

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