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Author Topic: Scantron alternatives: I need cheaper/creative solutions.  (Read 15117 times)
superboyac
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« on: August 28, 2010, 12:50:22 PM »

Hi everyone, I'm looking for a cheaper alternative to Scantron products.  Here is what I'm looking for:

1) A machine that can quickly scan a bunch of multiple choice exams on a form like the scantrons that we are all used to.  But I don't want a scantron machine because they are too expensive.  There must be cheaper solutions out there and I've already come across.  Apperson GradeMaster seems to be a pretty good alternative that I've found from my initial Google search.

2) Ideally, I want the machine to be able to read a form that can be printed from a normal printer.  I don't want to worry about buying official scantron forms or proprietary forms.

3) Software.  Whether the software is tied to the machine or not, I'd like to use some kind of software to process the tests.  Meaning, I want more than just the machine marking correct/incorrect answers on the test.  I want a software to process the scans and have the data available on my computer to use with excel, etc.

One of the creative solutions I've just been thinking about is using the software Vuescan (or something similar) to process the scans and do something with it.  So that would mean I just need an ordinary scanner. But I need a little more than that.  I need a normal scanner that can zip through a pile of papers.  Or even if it doesn't fly through them, I don't want something I need to open the lid, place the paper, close the lid, scan, open the lid, remove the paper, etc.  I'd like a slot-feeding thing or something like that.

Any ideas?
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2010, 12:55:34 PM »

Quote
One of the creative solutions I've just been thinking about is using the software Vuescan (or something similar) to process the scans and do something with it.


sounds like a horrible idea.

surely this is a case where you should find some software that is designed to help you create and print multiple choice forms and facilitate their scanning and data processing.  this is something that is done all the time for surveys, etc.  find a good piece of software or software+hardware combo made for this.
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superboyac
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2010, 06:08:01 PM »

Quote
One of the creative solutions I've just been thinking about is using the software Vuescan (or something similar) to process the scans and do something with it.


sounds like a horrible idea.

surely this is a case where you should find some software that is designed to help you create and print multiple choice forms and facilitate their scanning and data processing.  this is something that is done all the time for surveys, etc.  find a good piece of software or software+hardware combo made for this.
Haha.  I agree 100%.  I just threw it out there to kick start the discussion.

Yes, please send me the alternatives that are out there for test systems, or survey systems.  Knowing me, I'm going to be more attracted to solutions where I can buy the machine independently from the software.  I also love the idea of being able to print the testing forms instead of having to buy pre-printed forms.  So flexibility and independence are the two key things I'm looking at.  As with most business products, there's always some kind of gimmick built into things to make you keep relying on the same company.  In this case, scantron has really cornered the customers by forcing them to use THEIR forms to use the machine.  The money is really in the forms, not the machines.  I think most of the alternatives follow the same scheme.  But I've come across one or two that allow you to print your own form from a standard form that they provide you (for $600), but it's still better than always needing scantron's forms.
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cmpm
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2010, 05:51:31 AM »

http://www.inspiroscan.com/default.aspx

may be an alternative

seems to be more work then Scantron initially.
but with training and practice it may be what you want
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xtabber
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2010, 10:33:32 AM »

Gravic has several lines of OMR software that might suit your needs.

Remark Office (http://www.gravic.com/remark/officeomr/) allows you to print your own forms and scan them from just about any scanner.

Remark Classic  (http://www.gravic.com/remark/classicomr/) is designed to work with OMR scanners such as Scantron's.

I can't give you any information about accuracy or reliability.
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Shades
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2010, 05:14:49 PM »

Maybe this piece of freeware (but not open source) will help you out: HotPotatoes.

As it creates web-based tests, the processing of them should be relatively easy.
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superboyac
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2010, 10:43:20 PM »

Last 3 posters:
Thanks for the alternatives.  They look very promising and I'm currently researching them.  I appreciate it.
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dbrosius
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2010, 08:41:09 AM »

I use Remark Office at my University for course evaluations, exams, surveys, etc.  Been using it nearly ten years and I'm pretty happy with the results.

It takes a bit of work getting the initial form designed, but after that scanning and reporting are very straightforward.

You design a form (I usually just use MS Word), scan the form to an image file (jpg, tiff) and then 'train' Remark from the image to recognize response regions on the form.  As long as the response areas on the form are unchanged (nothing added or moved) you can make changes to other parts of the form and use the same scanning template.

Scanning can be done with any optical scanner (from a cheap-o desktop type to a mode costly production model). Remark will scan duplexed forms if the scanner supports them.

For example, for course evaluations, the main part of the form is reserved for questions with bullet lists for responses.  The headings on the form can be changed (course title, semester, instructor, etc.) without having to re-train Remark to recognize the responses.  To allow us to identify different forms, we have a field in the header which contains an ID number encoded as a bar code.  Remark interprets the bar code during scanning and includes the ID in the output file.

The reporting utilities are pretty good, but you can also export the raw data if you need to generate something fancy.

Remark is NOT inexpensive (currently it is $995.00), but it is very flexible.
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superboyac
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 08:53:27 AM »

I use Remark Office at my University for course evaluations, exams, surveys, etc.  Been using it nearly ten years and I'm pretty happy with the results.

It takes a bit of work getting the initial form designed, but after that scanning and reporting are very straightforward.

You design a form (I usually just use MS Word), scan the form to an image file (jpg, tiff) and then 'train' Remark from the image to recognize response regions on the form.  As long as the response areas on the form are unchanged (nothing added or moved) you can make changes to other parts of the form and use the same scanning template.

Scanning can be done with any optical scanner (from a cheap-o desktop type to a mode costly production model). Remark will scan duplexed forms if the scanner supports them.

For example, for course evaluations, the main part of the form is reserved for questions with bullet lists for responses.  The headings on the form can be changed (course title, semester, instructor, etc.) without having to re-train Remark to recognize the responses.  To allow us to identify different forms, we have a field in the header which contains an ID number encoded as a bar code.  Remark interprets the bar code during scanning and includes the ID in the output file.

The reporting utilities are pretty good, but you can also export the raw data if you need to generate something fancy.

Remark is NOT inexpensive (currently it is $995.00), but it is very flexible.
Awesome!  Thank you.  I'm going to look into that.  A similar one to that that I've run across recently is ABBYY FormReader.  I don't know how much it costs, but I know their OCR software is well respected.
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andhrizz
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2010, 06:48:07 AM »

Check this suit of form filling and pdf ( form creator) freeware. Color Pilot Website 
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« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 06:50:37 AM by andhrizz » Logged
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