Brian D. Bontempo, PhD.
Brian D. Bontempo, PhD.

Brian D. Bontempo, PhD.

Greetings!  It’s that wonderful time of the year, when testing professionals from around the world come together to commune, celebrate warm weather and engage in show and tell.  What am I talking about?  The annual Innovations in Testing Conference sponsored by the Association of Test Publishers.  Newbies to testing are encouraged to attend as are seasoned veterans.  I have been going to the ATP conference since it’s second year, and I find it to be the highlight of the year.

I do recommend every session in the program, even the ones on Marketing (which blew me away a few years back)!  Nonetheless, I took a few moments to take a deeper look at the conference program.  Here are some of my session recommendations.

1.) Putting the Social Back in Networking (No link available) – Tuesday Feb 9, 2010 at 3:45 PM – This should be a fantastic opportunity to play face-to-face social networking by mimicking the online tools that many of us use today.  I believe in the power of community and I would like to see more activity on the part of my fellow testing community members to tweet, facebook, and link-in.  This session will provide the inspirations for those who are nervous.

2.) The keynote address – I have read a little online about Scott Berkun and this guy has some great things to say about innovation.  Since the word innovation is in the title of the conference, I have high hopes for this session.

3.) Evaluating and Charting a Path for Innovation – This is a session in which I am presenting so consider yourself invited.  This session will provide participants with the time to think about and discuss their own innovation projects.  For anyone contemplating or undertaking enterprise level innovation, this session should provide the inspiration and space to formulate or organize your thoughts and action plan.

4.) Assessing the Hard Stuff with Innovative Items – There are a few new innovative item bank and item type providers out there right now.  This is a presentation by one of those groups, Atvantus.  Although it has been about a year since I extensively toured the item banks that are available, this group seems to be producing more advanced item types than many of the other groups.  If you’re into innovative items, this would be a good opportunity to see what they have to say.

5.) Automating the Item Review Process – The session covers entirely new ground about a topic that I am thinking more and more about each day.  The ground is natural language processing and the topic is item enemies.  Kirk’s a bright guy.  If you can keep up with him, I’m sure you’ll get a lot from this session.

I am also pretty excited by how much technological innovation is finally coming to testing.  It’s not really a surprise that it has taken over twenty years for it to get here.  Twenty years ago, the bucks were in consumer and business technology.  With the slow down in the economy, the testing industry has shined as a growing industry.  No wonder the technology providers are descending on our community.  Although I am very excited about this influx of talented people and the services they provide, I must caution all to not be over zealous about cool technology that may have little psychometric rigor with which to back it up.  A good test or item should have both face validity and psychometric soundness.  The ATP conference should provide a great forum for people interested in testing to learn more about these new technologies and the ways in which the technologies should be implemented to improve your assessment program.  Enjoy!