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Evaluating Digital Tools

The McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University just started a pilot with DigiExam this school year. John Carpenter, MSB’s Chief Technology Officer, was nice enough to explain his process for evaluating tools during a webinar with DigiExam back in March. Read on to learn about his evaluation process and why MSB chose to pilot with DigiExam.

John Carpenter has been the Chief Technology Officer at the McDonough School of Business for the past 23 years.  Prior to that role, he held  IT and technical positions in the US Navy, so it’s safe to say he has a great deal of experience evaluating software. Currently, he’s excited about what lays ahead for the McDonough School of Business as they are planning to expand both their undergraduate and graduate programs. In order to make that expansion a success, many new tools and technologies will be needed. It was decided last winter that one of those tools will be DigiExam. While MSB does not currently have any active users, as they are still in the pilot phase, they are very much looking forward to officially getting started in the near future. John was kind enough to take the time to explain his evaluation process, and more specifically, why he felt DigiExam would be a good fit for MSB.

DigiExam: As you were evaluating digital tools, what were the benefits you saw with DigiExam?

John: We were really looking for the traditional things you look for in any software. Everything is about ease of use – ease of use for the professors, ease of use for the teaching assistants, and ease of use for the students.  There’s an added component for the students in that students want to see the latest and greatest stuff.  They don’t want to do things the way their parents were doing them twenty to thirty years ago.  We were looking for a modern product with modern security and one that offered flexibility in terms of its operability and test-taking options.

DigiExam had a lot of advantages. First there was the look and feel.  It was something that students were able to quickly warm up to.  Although we don’t have any active users, extensive testing was completed, and everyone said they would much prefer DigiExam over the products we were using previously.  The staff was also happy to see that it was cloud-based.  The previous program was not, which created some problems.

DigiExam: Why did you decide to pilot DigiExam?

John: Not only did we look at DigiExam from a technical and product standpoint, but we evaluated DigiExam as a company as well. Test-taking is  one of those things that simply can’t break. You’re sending a student down there that is already paranoid and hyper about taking a test, so if there are issues using the product that we’ve picked for them, that creates all kinds of problems beyond just the technical.

We needed a product that couldn’t break, but we also needed a company that was going to commit to us, and we think we found that in DigiExam. I’ll be frank, some of the criteria we used in our evaluations went beyond the technical. It wasn’t just the question of whether it could do test-taking ‘the best,’ although we were happy with the way it worked out there as well. But, we also needed someone that was going to stand by us and be completely transparent with us regarding problems, issues, upgrade paths or modifications; anything like that. We wanted someone from a corporate environment who we could trust and that was probably as much as a decision making point as the technology itself.

DigiExam: How do you see DigiExam being used in the environment with the faculty at your school?

John: There’s two areas where we’re going to be pushing out the test-taking technology.  First, will be the traditional way – in the classroom. We want to do be able to take tests in a convenient manner with all the automatic features, like automatic grading and that kind of stuff, in a physical classroom.

The second area will be outside of the classroom. So much of education is now outside of the classroom and happening online that we also need options that can allow someone to take a test pretty much unsupervised in many different environments, so flexibility is needed in that regard, too.  MSB is trying to expand our role and become a factor in the online learning environment so we can provide some Georgetown education to those who can’t physically be in the building.

The DigiExam team is incredibly be excited to help MSB get started with the platform and to work with them to improve their digital assessment experience.