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Purdue software makes Internet more teacher-friendly

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new educational software program developed at Purdue University is making it easier than ever for teachers to put the power of the Internet to work in their classrooms.

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Test Pilot is a new application that allows teachers to design surveys, tests and tutorials that students can take on any computer that is connected to the Internet.

"It really opens up the use of computers for instruction," says Test Pilot author Malcolm Duncan, the associate director of Purdue's BioMedia Center of Instructional Computing. "The program not only generates the test or tutorial, it also grades it so students can get immediate feedback as to how they did. And Test Pilot's combination of simplicity and affordability make it unique among the educational software currently available."

On-line instruction is not new, but the teachers using it have had to be able to create a Web page and then write a program to handle the data, or pay an experienced webmaster to do it for them. Test Pilot Test runs on both Macintosh and PC systems and may require a webmaster for a one-time installation on a school's Web server, but after that even the most computer-phobic teacher can begin creating tests.

"Once the data base portion of the program is installed, instructors use simple pull-down menus and forms to write questions and set the format," Duncan explains. "The software also allows for the import of graphics and video and audio snippets, so it can be used for virtually any discipline or subject."

Duncan says the most common use so far is for the creation of tutorials, which give teachers a way to track how well students are grasping material before actually testing them on it. And because the tutorial is on the Web, students can take it from their homes, or a library -- virtually anyplace that has a computer with Internet access.

More than 350 universities and companies from all over the world were involved in the testing of the software, and now there is a growing demand from corporations interested in using it for industrial, managerial and clerical training. Duncan says the program also could be used for polling over the Internet.

Test Pilot costs $120 for educational institutions and $495 for businesses. Some Web servers may require a server extension to run the program, which costs an additional $50 or $195, depending on the type of customer. A demonstration of the software can be found at .

CONTACT: Duncan, (765) 494-6610; e-mail,; Web,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Program author Malcolm Duncan demonstrates Test Pilot on the computers in Purdue's BioMedia Center for Instructional Computing. The software allows teachers to design tests and tutorials that students can take on any computer that is connected to the Internet. (Purdue News Service photo by David Umberger)
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Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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