Thinking of Using Question and Test Interoperability?

Before committing to Question & Test Interoperability (QTI) you may want to triple check all of the systems that will be used for importing and exporting assessment data and their QTI compatibility. First of all, there are four different versions of QTI that are currently in use, Versions 1.2, 1.2.1, 2.0, and 2.1. Which one does your system or systems use? If you have a system that uses 2.1 and another system that uses 2.0, then there will need to be some sort of transformation process to get the content out of the system that is using QTI 2.1 and into the system that is using QTI 2.0, or vice versa. To top that, if all of the systems are using the same version of QTI, that doesn’t mean that the import/export processes will go smoothly. Previously on a project that I participated on all systems were using QTI 2.1. But by no means did the content import and export process go smoothly. We had to jump through so many hoops over a 2 year process just to get QTI 2.1 formatted packages of assessment items to import into a system that was using the exact same QTI version format. Don’t get me wrong, now that we fixed all the issues the import and exporting process works great. But to get to this point, the development process was very resource intensive and this portion of the project was way over what was originally budgeted.

In my experience with QTI, what I have found is that developers seem to interpret IMS Global’s standard for QTI a little differently than the next person. Who knows why this happens. It may be the developer may need to customize their QTI packages to meet their requirements for exports. Or, maybe they know they need for their system to import QTI packages in version 2.1 and they read the 2.1 specification documentation from IMS Global and implement what they think is correct. Regardless of the reasons it can make the end goal of getting content out of one system and putting it into another very challenging.

So before making the decision of using QTI, make sure you get solid documentation from each system that will be exporting or importing QTI packages. The documentation should provide a clear view on how the system packages up the assessment content into a QTI package. If possible, ask the product supplier for example QTI packages. Review that documentation and sample packages with a solid Software Developer or Technical Consultant who has knowledge around QTI and understands how to read technical specifications and understands XML. Discuss all of the red flags that appear. Trust me you will find them. Then when everything has been discussed and everything is out on the table as far as what issues or obstacles may arise, at that time make a decision to use QTI or go down a different path. Knowledge is power and you will certainly need as much knowledge as possible with using QTI.

For more information regarding QTI, please go to IMS Global’s website: http://www.imsglobal.org/question/