El Paso Independent School District Captivates Learning With Questionmark
The El Paso Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, serves 63,000 students on 92 campuses. About 4500 teachers work for the district, the seventh largest in the state.
The district has set goals for expanding the use of technology and integrating it into instruction. For that reason, a department of 10 technical site coordinators is responsible for training teachers in how to use technology more effectively and integrate it into the curriculum. Christopher Sherman, who manages those coordinators, uses Questionmark to create online training modules to enable teachers to take technology courses anytime and anywhere.
Sherman creates the learning modules in Adobe Captivate. He creates virtual learning environments (VLEs) in which teachers learn how to perform technical tasks, use the administrative systems and tools like the gradebook, and gain other necessary skills for using technology in their own teaching. Sherman uses Flash movies, screen captures, and other Captivate features to create extremely realistic learning environments. "It's so realistic that sometimes teachers think they've actually created something in the gradebook and forget that they're in a simulation of the gradebook," Sherman says.
Sherman creates learning modules to support various district initiatives. For example, for a recent laptop distribution to about 3,400 elementary and middle-school teachers, Sherman first created a virtual environment where teachers could learn about the features, appropriate use policy, and proper care of the laptops.
Sherman began using Captivate about four years ago, and he chose it because it integrates easily with Questionmark. He creates most of his test questions in Captivate, because the majority of his questions are interactive. Sherman saves these interactive questions as qml files, which are then easily loaded into Questionmark.
Teachers must correctly identify items by clicking on them, or perform various functions, such as downloading a class list to their gradebook. When they take the right step, the program advances to the next screen just as it would in actual use; if they take the wrong step, they get red flags with the correct information.
After teachers have been trained, they must pass an assessment, and in many circumstances, the assessments are mandatory. For example, teachers did not receive their laptops until they had passed their assessment.
Sherman uses the reporting function in Questionmark to help teachers earn continuing professional education (CPE) credit. A link in some assessments allows teachers to apply for CPE credit if they pass, and this information is forwarded to another database that tracks professional education credits that teachers earn.
Sherman now has about 60 assessments for various training programs, and he creates new ones as the need arises.
For example, he created a tutorial to train principals and other district employees who order supplies from the warehouse, and then created an assessment which they had to pass in order to be certified to order supplies.
Sherman says that the combination of Captivate and Questionmark makes it easy to create good training and assessments that show whether people have mastered the necessary skills: "It's very simple to load my test items into Questionmark, and the two programs work together really well so that the assessments we deliver are very realistic and valuable as teaching tools.