Does computer-based training or testing have a place in your operation? If so, you probably shop for canned training and testing applications and hope you find something that meets your needs. Or you might write your own applications from scratch. Never fear—the folks at combine both approaches by offering several products that let you create custom training, testing, and survey applications just by pointing, clicking and doing a little typing—no programming required.

Tests are as much fun to create as they are to take
I’ve spent a couple of weeks working with LearningWare’s two most popular products: Gameshow Pro 2 and Quiz Factory. And I put the Quiz Factory 2 beta through its paces. If you’ve always wanted to create your own computer-based training materials but didn’t know where to start, go out to and download one of the demos. I’m sure you’ll be as impressed as I was.

Gameshow Pro 2 turns training into fun
What’s the hardest thing about classroom training? Keeping the students awake and interested? Instead of handing out paper-based tests, you can engage your students in a competitive round of computer-based versions of Jeopardy®, Family Feud®, or Tic Tac Toe.

The Gameshow Pro 2 interface is all point, click, and type. So the hardest part of setting up a game is on the front end, when teachers and corporate trainers have to come up with the appropriate categories, questions, and answers to load into the game modules. Granted, some stuffed-shirt executive types might frown on using a game show to teach the company’s database software—but wrapping up a training session with one of these games is bound to make a strong impression on your students.

If there’s a down side to using Gameshow Pro 2, it’s that the games require group interaction. Your students are on teams, they’re writing or discussing answers, and you’re riding herd over the excitement. If you prefer to use training, testing, or survey modules that require input only from the person being tested, trained or surveyed, you may want to try out Quiz Factory.

My favorite: Quiz Factory
As its name suggests, Quiz Factory lets you design your own quizzes or surveys. You can enter up to 200 questions on any topic. The original version of the program offers seven question formats: multiple choice, sequencing, matching, categories, true/false, short answer, and picture questions. (Quiz Factory 2 includes several new formats that give you even more flexibility when you design a quiz.)

You have to love this program as soon as you run through the sample quiz. One of the questions displays a picture of the TV Brady family, and the user is asked to click on Jan! Because many of the question formats let you import your own graphic images, you can include in your quizzes screen shots from your applications or pictures of hardware you expect a user to be able to identify.

For computer trainers, the sequencing format is a great tool. You enter a number of steps, and the user has to click on the steps in the correct order. The program changes the mouse pointer to the next number as the user clicks on an item. You could use this question format to verify that a student knows the correct order for the steps in any process—from turning on a computer to how to enter a record in a database.

Quiz Factory also gives the trainer complete control over when or whether the user gets to see the correct answers and results. You can administer the same test up to three times, and you can change or make random the order in which the questions are presented. The program includes a Quiz Creator module and a Quiz Player module, so you can deploy only the player on user or student machines. In addition, the program keeps a record of all test results and lets you generate reports on that data.

Pricing and platforms
At the time of this writing, Gameshow Pro 2 costs $495 for a single copy, and multiple copy and site licenses are available. Quiz Factory costs $895 to install the Quiz Player on up to 10 mac hines, but you can purchase licenses for more than one Quiz Creator and additional players. Federal government agencies and K-12 schools are eligible for special price adjustments.

The LearningWare products currently are available for Windows 3.x, Windows 9x, and NT. Macintosh versions are in production.

You say you like the concept but you don’t have time to create quizzes yourself? The folks at LearningWare will, for a fee, take your raw materials and create the testing modules for you. For more information, point your browser to the LearningWare home page .