Tools or programs can be divided in two basic groups - those that facilitate the conducting of classical written exams and those that are intended for direct entering of the answers into the computer.
There are three types of possible use of IT in knowledge assessment
- preparation of classical paper tests, analysis of student results and the test itself,
- conducting testing by directly entering the answers into the computer (wireless or network)
- building a system which supports both of the previous.
Conducting classical written exams by using IT is a smaller step, which frees the professor from a lot of work, but the procedure remains virtually unchanged for the students. However, if there is a well developed system, several versions of selected-response tests can be prepared within a couple of minutes, and by using reply forms and optic scanner, several hundred students can get their results in less than an hour! In that process all high standards for test development are complied, while it ruleys out the possibility of human error in evaluation. Part of the test which requires text entry (short answers or an essay), unfortunately cannot be easily processed that way, so an online test is recommended.
Programs intended for direct entry of answers into a computer can be used for individual or network use. Computer can be a laptop and test delivery program can be preinstalled or a test can be brought as a file on a floppy disk, CR-ROM or be sent through e-mail..
A computer can be a part of the local network, and the test distributed from a local server into preinstalled client programs. A test can also be delivered through an Internet browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer, Opera etc.) from an Internet server. For security reasons many online test delivery programs when delivered through the Internet use a "safe browser" which "locks" the user computer in order to stop the user from cheating (opening other programs or browsing the Internet while taking the test). Such a browser is subject to regular server authentication in order to avoid possible cheating by technically better versed students.
There are program packages consisting of more than one program, the combination of which offer possibility to prepare paper tests, laptop tests, computers logged onto the local network and finally tests delivered through the Internet (such as CQuest or QuestionMark Perception packages).