Helping District IT Leaders Meet New Challenges of Online Testing

As schools move from paper-based tests to online assessments delivered via the cloud, a host of challenges arise in ensuring that the student testing environment is secure, scalable and easy to manage while also staying flexible enough to support the daily learning needs of students. Additionally, districts that may have accumulated a mix of technologies as they expanded their digital learning programs over the years now have to manage their multi-OS environments and ensure consistent user experience and equal access for all students.

Three students in a cafeteria setting working on Dell laptops

“Online testing offers not only incredible efficiency but real-time access to student performance data as well. However, online testing in a high-stakes environment poses significant process and technological concerns. District IT leaders must ensure a high-quality user experience, security, equal access and prescribed technical standards associated with Common Core and other standardized online assessments,” said Nicole Engelbert, director of research & analysis, Industries, Ovum.

Of utmost concern to IT leaders is security. Their IT infrastructure must lock down access to external applications and content; deny any attempts at replication or duplication of the test materials and testing software source code; and ensure encrypted passage of data between the server and the testing environment.

To solve these challenges, we are announcing Dell’s Next Generation Online Testing Solutions, a suite of offerings designed and validated to work seamlessly with Pearson TestNav online testing software, which is the official online testing delivery system used by dozens of states around the US. Through a customizable combination of off-the-shelf end-points and desktop virtualization technologies, the online testing solutions give districts end-to-end templates that build upon hundreds of thousands of hours of testing and development. To help districts better understand the challenges associated with online testing and how desktop virtualization solutions can help, we issued a white paper that you can download for free.

The Next Generation Online Testing Solutions are qualified through the TestNav Qualified Program™ by Pearson, meeting strict standards for security and user experience. They are designed to simplify the decision-making process for district IT leaders in states that require online assessments running on Pearson TestNav testing software. These solutions will give districts ease of mind knowing that their testing environments meet all required performance and security standards:

  • The Dell Chromebook 11 or Dell Chromebox, coupled with the Chrome Management Console and Pearson’s TestNav application for Chrome, provide an easy to deploy, affordable and secure solution that is tested and validated to run Pearson TestNav 8. Because of its affordability, all-day battery life, high performing Intel processor and security features, the Dell Chromebook 11 has been deployed by school districts nationwide.
  • Dell Wyse Datacenters for Next Generation Online Testing with vWorkspace is a reference architecture for affordable virtual desktop infrastructure featuring the latest version of desktop virtualization software, Wyse vWorkspace 8.5. The solution is ideal for districts with existing Microsoft licenses and provides the ability to deliver applications and virtual desktops to most browser-compatible devices, through the vWorkspace connector for HTML5. This reference architecture is TestNav Qualified™ for running TestNav 7.5 and TestNav 8 on a variety of end-points, including thin clients and Windows laptops.
  • Dell Wyse Datacenters for Next Generation Online Testing with Citrix or VMware reference architecture offers an enterprise-grade infrastructure that also supports high-end graphics to support 3D modeling and other advanced applications in the learning environment. It gives districts the flexibility to integrate virtual desktop environments into existing infrastructure and can power small-scale pilots to large-scale deployments for tens of thousands of users. This reference architecture is TestNav Qualified™ for running TestNav 7.5 and TestNav 8 on a variety of end-points, including thin clients and Windows laptops. You can find the full list of associated Pearson TestNav Qualified requirements here.
  • For districts with Windows-based IT environments, Dell partnered with ThinLaunch, a third party software partner, to ensure secure implementation for thick clients  of Pearson’s TestNav testing environment, when delivered via virtual desktop. Windows-based end points running TestNav require the installation of Thin Desktop to ensure secure and dedicated access to the testing environment.

These recommended configurations take the guesswork out of implementing online testing, whether districts are maximizing legacy hardware or deploying new devices, and provide a flexible, scalable and easily managed IT infrastructure that can support testing and student learning throughout the school year. Schools can adopt a validated VDI strategy that is simple to deploy and manage, and ultimately focus their resources on educating students rather than troubleshooting IT issues.

Only Dell offers education customers a complete end-to-end desktop virtualization portfolio from end points to storage, servers and IT support. As a trusted advisor to thousands of schools around the country, Dell understands that every district has different needs and objectives when investing in technology. We are excited by the potential of technology to personalize learning and assessment and are committed to creating IT solutions specifically designed to meet all of the demands districts face throughout the school year. Our suite of solutions offers schools the versatility they need to create a dynamic, student-centric learning environment while maximizing IT resources and empowering student learning.

About the Author: Erica Hilgeman

Erica Hilgeman serves as the Marketing Manager for Field Marketing in Dell’s Cloud Client-Computing group, and specializes in solutions for Government and Education. In this role, Erica works with salespeople and customers across the US, to define and enable Dell’s virtualization solutions. Erica joined Dell in November, 2000, after a number of years spent in Marketing at other technology firms, including Canon and, via an agency, IBM. She has spent her 12-year career at Dell in Marketing roles close to our customer base, focusing initially on Medium Business and Dell’s growing Channel Program. The past 7 years have brought Erica to Dell’s Public business, as a Desktop & Notebook Brand Manager for Education and Government. Erica’s current focus on Desktop Virtualization came out of numerous interactions with customers expressing interest in this technology. Erica has a Bachelors Degree in International Relations from Stanford University, and lives in Austin with her husband and son.