Swiss Computing Certificate Switches to Online Testing

Background

The Swiss Computing Certificate (SIZ) established in 1991, examines professional information and communication technology (ICT) skills in three languages. Preparatory training courses are offered by around 200 partner colleges. Three large Swiss economic associations support this certification, which aims to promote computing skills within professional training: the Swiss trade and crafts association (SGV), the Swiss workers’ association (SAV) and the Swiss economic association for information, communication and organizational technology (SWICO). With around 150,000 diplomas and more than half a million module examinations, the SIZ diploma has become established among employers as a recognized certificate of qualification.

Automating Exams

Until recently, certification exams were administered on paper. SIZ selected the Questionmark assessment management system in 2006 as part of a comprehensive update of the certification process. About 500 internal and external training and assessment specialists were trained to use Questionmark, and the electronic examination was successfully introduced in 2007. The project  included developiong ancillary systems ranging from candidate administration to the distribution of grades and diplomas. The online administration of assessments has made it easy to access information. Colleges and candidates can now monitor everything from registration to the publication of grades, and administrators can adapt the system to their individual requirements.

Security measures

SIZ managers have developed a system of personal, organizational, software and hardware security that discourages cheating and protects sensitive data but at the same time makes it easy to obtain exam results. Individual colleges administer a differentiated access authorization system that determines who is able to consult, amend and delete particular data.

Web portals

Although the electronic examination is the core business of SIZ, a range of additional services are also provided for associated partner colleges and examination candidates. These include a training and examination platform that provides several thousand ICT questions via Web portals. Candidates can now prepare for examinations on the Internet from any location and complete self tests as a classification aid. The partner colleges can use an examination platform to monitor the quality of the training and the ongoing progress of their candidates. Colleges can see the test results and analyses as soon as assessments have been completed.

Benefits

  • Intuitive: easy to start authoring questions and assessments in minutes.
  • Rapid authoring and editing of multi-block assessments with easy item selection functions.
  • Familiar tools for formatting or adding images, links and more.
  • Ideal for harvesting questions from globally dispersed SMEs
  • Multilingual, user-configurable authoring environment with 16 languages to choose from
  • Collaborative authoring environment that enables sharing content with others for review or editing
  • Browser-based with no software or hardware to install or maintain
  • Free to Questionmark  customers

Future Plans

Computerized testing now constitutes the core business of the SIZ, but the organization wants to do more than simply adapting the previous paper-based examination system to provide additional services such as the training and examination platforms for candidates and colleges. There are now plans to develop ICT skills analyses on the basis of adaptive test methods for employers and staff representatives. The aim of the SIZ is to provide tools and guidance for candidates, colleges and the employment world (employers, staff representatives, professional consultants) which are accepted as a standard and benchmark for professional ICT skills.