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'QTI Ready' almost ready

Adding to the growing pile of IMS QTI compliant software is a new server side plug-in: QTI Ready. Following the emerging trend of supplying applications that are meant to do only one thing, and do it well, QTI Ready allows you to edit and play QTI based quizzes and tests on any J2EE aware webserver. Your existing VLE should be able to take care of the rest.

Though there are more standalone QTI authoring tools and players, there's not that many that are meant to simply plug in to an existing VLE. Provided that that VLE is J2EE based, because QTI Ready comes as a .war packaged servlet- a package you need to dump into the filesystem of a J2EE based webserver to run.

SABA, for example, has already certified QTI Ready for use on its VLE.

Even if your VLE is not J2EE based, it is fairly straightforward to install the open source Tomcat server on a machine somewhere, and run QTI Ready from there.

The VLE can communicate with the QTI Ready authoring tool and player via the AICC HTTP based API (HACP). HACP is an older specification about sending commands from learning content to a VLE via encoding in URIs, which is considered to be pretty unsafe these days. The URIs can be fairly easily grabbed and tampered with on the way. On the plus side, it does not have the cross-domain scripting problems associated with AICC's newer sibling, SCORM.

For those security reasons, the HACP communication between a VLE and the QTI Ready player is limited to selecting and starting a particular test, and signalling when the test is done. The actual score calculation is done on the server side, from a web form. This makes it less easy for the test results to be tampered with on a user's browser, but, since forms are even easier to grab than URIs, following QTI Ready's advice to use it over a secure https connection seems wise.

Unless you just want something that just runs a few formative questions after a tutorial- if the students think its worthwhile to hack that, they deserve the fruits of their crime.

One other notable characteristic of QTI Ready is that it makes relatively few assumptions about a user's machine; playing and authoring tests happens on the server, and the result is rendered as html. So no plug-ins are needed, and no major restrictions on hardware or operating system beyond the ability to run a decent browser.

The QTI source that QTI Ready spits out appears to play relatively nicely with other IMS QTI compliant tools. It needs to be born in mind, however, that it makes liberal use of the 'section' and 'assessment' elements, which aren't supported by everyone.

QTI Ready will be available from September 1st, with a price between $1000.- and $2000.-

More information about QTI Ready is available from the XDLSoft website.

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