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‘Perception Software Suite version 2’ from Question Mark Computing


The Perception Software Suite
Available from Question Mark Computing Ltd
5th Floor, Hill House
Highgate Hill
London N19 5NA

Tel: (+44) 0171 263 7575

Perception V2 from Question Mark Computing enables users to create tests, surveys, questionnaires, and assessments for use via the web or an Intranet. Perception contains both Windows and web-based software ˆto install the web-based components you will need an ISAPI webserver with the Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP) facility installed.

The 'Getting Started' guide that is included with the software is very clear and logically presented so installation was quick and simple. The Windows modules allow you to create questions organise them within topics and subtopics and create sessions around those items. A webserver is not required to use these items. Once installed, you are presented with two icons, Question Manager and Session Manager. Question Manager enables you to create questions and organise them into hierarchical item banks (rather like creating chapters for a manual in Word). Session Manager then allows you to construct tests and surveys based around these questions.

To test the software, I constructed a 'mock' test for a software certification exam. As many of our trainers and consultants spend a good deal of their time working away from the office it makes real sense for them to be able to undertake this sort of preparation over the Internet. The fastest way to get started is to use the Question Wizard to guide you through the process. Although Perception is capable of creating any type of question, the Wizard gives a choice of 9 formats from which to choose. This should be sufficient for all but the most serious tester! By varying the format you can create an interesting and varied test. I found the Hotspot format particularly useful as this allows the participant to place a marker on an image (in this case a jpeg of an icon) to indicate the answer. Scoring and feedback are all easily configured on a question-by-question basis.

Session Manager is used to actually create the test or survey itself. This allows you to grab a number of different questions from various topics and order them according to choice or at random. It is then possible to set time limits or provide unique feedback messages according to score at the end of a session. Once again, the Wizard will guide you through the process. Once the session is published on your Web Server you can create user accounts and schedules to allow participants to take a session. The Perception Server is accessed via the participant's web browser and security levels can be set as required. Once the participants have sat the test you can analyse the results in great detail using the Enterprise Reporter module included in the suite. The standard reports provided should cater for the needs of most users.

Perception V2 also includes a tool called PIP (Perception Integration Protocol). This allows users to import and export candidate and results data directly between Perception server and other AICC compliant training management applications such as Personal Registrar or Manager's Edge.

As someone who hates reading the manual, I was impressed with the 'Getting Started' guide which really does stick to the basics and allow you to get up and running fast. Without this and the Wizards I would have found the software a lot more daunting. With prices starting from £3,500 this would be a major investment for a smaller company. However, I would certainly recommend Perception to anyone with a requirement for a powerful suite of surveying/testing tools.

Reviewed by Claire Robinson, Training and Consultancy Director, Prior Analytics Ltd.


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