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pixel.gif (807 bytes) Some do-it-yourself solutions
F YOU FIND THE IDEA of a large-scale, enterprise-wide solution daunting or out-of-reach then there's a lot you can do yourself at minimal cost. One of the by-products of web technology has been a proliferation of easy-to-use, low-cost tools with powerful capabilities. For example, let's say you wanted to survey a section of your target population to obtain self-ratings against a list of competencies. Using a tool like Microsoft FrontPage, which costs around 100, you can not only lay out the survey form in less than an hour, you can also save the results in a format that is readable by pretty-well any spreadsheet or database. What have you gained in the process?
  • the form is immediately accessible to your target population through their web browsers - you do not have to deliver paper-based forms in the mail
  • you can edit the form at any time, without having to post updates to each recipient individually
  • data is automatically saved in a format that you can manipulate - there is no need for the forms to be mailed back to you and entered manually into a software package

A simple web form like this can be created in minutes

If you wanted to go further and create a 360 questionnaire, bringing together ratings from supervisors, peers and subordinates, then you'd have to work harder to bring the results together in some meaningful form within your spreadsheet or database, but the web design work would be no more difficult.

If your organisation does not use a package like FrontPage, then you would need some help from the IT department to write a short script that saves the form results in the required format. However, this is a relatively simple job for an expert.

It is also possible to create your own assessments, containing a variety of question formats. Several dedicated assessment packages are available, of which the best-known is probably Question Mark. This software makes it easy for you to assemble banks of questions for access over your intranet or the Web and then process the results in a variety of report formats. New developments of Question Mark include a protocol that allows results to be communicated to training administration packages such as Registrar, Manager's Edge or Pathware, and a secure browser for more formal testing applications.

An extract from a sample Question Mark test on Word 97

If you don't want to use a dedicated assessment package, perhaps because you have special requirements for the layout of questions or the processing of results, then you can use a web-based training authoring tool. Perhaps the two most powerful and easy-to-use systems available at present are Macromedia Dreamweaver Attain and Asymetrix Toolbook. Both can be used to produce interactive lessons as well as assessments and can save results to the vendors' own training management systems (Pathware and Librarian respectively).

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