Breakthrough at ATP: Is Open Source for You?

Updated: May 30, 2019

By: Monique Muldrow


If you’re not at the Association of Test Publishers Innovations in Testing 2015 conference going on now, well, we are. And we have something to say.


Breakthrough Technologies’ Doug Wilson and Kate O’Conner are presenting the conference program, The Power of Community: Leveraging Open-source Solutions for Item Banking and Test Management. The program’s goal: to provide insight into the meaning of open source, its value in the education, employment and certification markets, and how open-source software is currently being used for assessment and certification.



ATP is without question THE conference for the assessment industry. This year’s gathering March 1 – 4 in Palm Springs, California, brings together assessment industry professionals from clinical, occupational, certification, licensure and educational practice areas. The event is an opportunity for industry professionals to learn from each other, network with colleagues and discover the latest innovations in the testing industry.


During their presentation, Doug, who is Breakthrough’s managing partner, and Kate, our business development manager for assessment and education, are offering their wealth of personal experience and hands-on knowledge of open-source solutions across the industry. Joining them will be Peggy Welch from the University of Alberta, which is piloting the TAO open-source assessment platform.


To share all that content in a single blog isn’t possible. (Plus that would be cheating!) But some of the “intelligence” Doug, Kate and Peggy will share includes a deep dive into examining open source as:


- Software that’s available to use, generally without a license cost

- Software whose source code is accessible to users of the software

- Software that is maintained not just by a company, but by an ecosystem

- Whether open source is free

- If a lot of organizations are using open-source software

- Whether open source is “good” and all other software “evil”



Also revealed are a variety of open-source products and their capabilities, with a particular focus on TAO for item authoring, test building and delivery.


A question of great interest to attendees – and maybe to you, too! – is how can open source enable low-cost innovation in an organization? In his presentation, Doug shows how open source accomplishes this:


- by solving problems that in the past were addressed through custom development or licensed solutions

- by introducing choice and freedom into the paradigm of software ownership

- by allowing you to focus custom development on those areas that hold the most value for your organization.



And as part of an examination of real-world uses of open-source software for assessment and certification, Kate and Doug offer, among other examples, an in-depth reveal of the National Center and State Collaborative summative assessment program – a Breakthrough-involved project that met an aggressive timeline of 57 working days from kickoff to the system being ready for user acceptance testing.


Does open source hold the solution to your organization’s challenges? Doug and Kate can give you guidance. Feel free to contact them with your questions, or even to discuss details of their ATP presentation.

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