Practicing What I Preach

I was summoned the other day to a meeting about assessing the educational outcomes for an economics education course for high school students.  My first thought was, “why in the world would they have an MIS guy in a meeting about the assessment of economics education?”  However, since the request to attend the meeting came from my boss, I was really in no position to turn it down.

A few minutes after arriving at the meeting, I found out why I was there.  The meeting wasn’t just about assessment, it was about creating a information system in the form of an online test for assessment.  After learning this, it’s no surprise that my interest level was increased significantly.

So the people that are interested in this system want to have students take a pre-test on economics in the beginning of the semester and then a post-test at the end.  This means that there would be four times (two tests * two semesters per year) per year that the system would be heavily utilized and then a long lull in between.  After hearing this I was really interested.  I thought to myself, “So we need to design a system that can support periodic spikes in usage, that needs to be able to accommodate several thousand users, and has to store data that is accessible to multiple parties?”   This thing is just screaming for the cloud!!

So this blog is the first in a series that will chronicle the development of our cloud based assessment system.  As a person that has done some research in this area, it will be nice to actually dive into the practical side of the equation and put something out on the cloud. Sure, I assisted my Imagine Cup team last year with their cloud app, but I couldn’t actually get my hands dirty (so to say) and put something up there myself.  So, I hope that you will be entertained and maybe learn a thing or two from my experiences “practicing what I preach.”


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