Client Intro

The University of Ottawa (uOttawa) is the largest bilingual (English and French) university in North America, supporting over 40,000 registered students. In addition, the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) at uOttawa represents the standard bearer for official languages and bilingualism in Canada by strengthening and promoting education and research in the fields of teaching, assessment, and language policy design.

The Challenge

In support of the growing demands for services within the OLBI, uOttawa required the procurement of an Online Proficiency Testing System. This system would act as a user-friendly, fully bilingual platform comprised of flexible web-based interfaces that would support the ability to create, deliver, execute, and evaluate language proficiency tests. In addition, the proposed system would support administrative functionalities such as: the ability to store test results, item responses, writing  samples, and speaking samples.

The proposed system also needed to support thousands of students and employment candidates on an annual basis through both the University of Ottawa and the OLBI. The Online Language Proficiency Testing System needed to successfully accommodate a large volume of test-takers, while also supporting a number of unique test types and formats, including but not limited to: listening, reading, and cloze passage tests, grammar and writing tasks, and speaking tests. In addition, the system needed to facilitate real-time data processing and system integration with comprehensive reporting and data analysis functionality.

The University of Ottawa and the OLBI also required seamlessly integration of the final solution with the organization’s PeopleSoft-based Student Information System (SIS), as well as integration with Njoyn to support the language testing of employee candidates.  The final solution also required integration with Shibboleth, the university’s Single Sign On framework.

The Solution

Wired Solutions utilized XpressLab, our proprietary web-based language proficiency testing platform, as the core engine used to power the uOttawa Online Proficiency Testing System.  The core functionality and features of XpressLab successfully supported the test authoring, delivery, scoring, and reporting functionality required by the uOttawa and OLBI use cases.

Through customization of the platforms authentication and roles-based security framework, we were able to successfully integrate with the university’s existing Peoplesoft-based Student Information System (SIS). Additional integration with Njoyn successfully supported the needs and workflows of employee candidates and HR professionals. Integration with Shibboleth, the university’s Single Sign On (SSO) framework, allowed staff and admin users to login to Online Proficiency Testing System using their existing uOttawa (uoZone) login credentials. This ensured a streamlined transition into using the system across uOttawa and OLBI staff.

With XpressLab powering the final Online Proficiency Testing System, uOttawa and the OLBI are now able to create, deliver, and evaluate all of the organization’s English and French language proficiency and language placement tests directly through our system. Practice tests are also created and delivered to test-takers through the final solution, as well as the ability to generate custom reports.

Supporting Technologies

  • C#
  • AngularJS
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014

The following out-of-box XpressLab features fully supported uOttawa use cases, and power the final Online Proficiency Testing System:

  • Click and drag audio recording functionality allows admin users to easily add audio question prompts and testing stimuli directly within test questions, while also allowing test-takers to record oral responses.
  • Built-in activity templates designed by pedagogy specialists target and evaluate listening comprehension, speaking skills, and comprehension skills using pre-recorded and listener-based activities and evaluations.
  • Assessment activities built into XpressLab include oral modalities that support listening comprehension and speaking. The built-in assessment platform specifically evaluates fluency and pronunciation, reading, and writing skills by supporting a wide range of built-in test types such as: listening passage tests, reading passage tests, cloze passage tests, grammar, writing, and speaking tests.
  • XpressLab makes it easy to create interactive language tests through the addition of multimedia elements such as: audio, video clips, images, and more.
  • Built-in audio recording tools allow admin users to record audio clips from their local computer, or import pre-recorded audio files to support a verbal passage for listening tests, cloze passages, grammar, writing, and speaking tests.
  • Timed test activities are built into XpressLab and XpressLab’s test authoring platform. When creating a test, administrators can set any task or test as a Timed Test. Administrators can create, modify, and/or delete timed test question types/tasks within a test at any given time via the XpressLab Test Planner. Each timed question in the platform has its own configurable question Prep Time and Response Time.
  • The Student/Test-Taker Dashboard allows test-takers to obtain a copy of their test results, once test results are released by administrative users.
  • Fully integrated grading and reporting system, with a built-in scoring engine that automatically processes data and provides a score for test items such as: multiple choice, true/false, and fill in the blank. The system also supports manual review flows for items such as essay response items, and audio response items.
  • The system’s built-in reporting module includes Course Reports that display each activity/module grade, as well as a detailed activity log displaying all actions performed by a student, including system login, test views, tests saved, test submissions, etc.

Additional customization of the platform included:

  • The integration of XpressLab with the uOttawa’s Peoplesoft-based Student Information System (SIS), as well as Njoyn integration to support employee candidates and HR workflows.
  • The development of an intuitive report generation interface that extends the platform’s built-in reporting module. This updated Reporting engine allows admin users to self-create reports by selecting from report filters and data criteria, and then exporting a fully customized bilingual report in web, PDF, and Excel formats.
  • The release of the streamlined Test Planner interface that supports the ability to create and manage Test Sections and Testlets.
  • Support for multi-reviewer/scorer workflows.
  • The release of the Rubric Management interface, which allows admin users to develop rubrics in a free-form, user-friendly interface. Rubrics can then be attached to any test via the Test Settings.
  • The release of the Scoring Matrix interface and Scoring Matrix logic which provides an assessment mapping tool that illustrates a test-taker’s overall score within a specific test purpose. The Scoring Matrix  maps the overall performance of a test-taker by defining the full range of possible performance levels that can be achieved within each Section of a test; and more.