- Open solution, eliminates vendor lock-in
- From entry-level to high-end
- From monitoring to formative to summative
- Low-stakes solution for schools, at home, and mobile
- High-stakes for certifications, proctored exams, etc.
- Path for growth
- Flexible pricing models
- Reduced acquisition / licensing cost leads to better TCO (total cost of ownership)
Content is not covered by GPL-2, only changes to the code of the application itself. The items and tests you create using TAO are your property, custom interactions are considered content too and any data collected (e.g. candidate responses) and tools used to (externally) process this data are not covered by GPL-2 by default either. There is no requirement to release anything, unless you choose to of course.
You can best compare it to MySQL; any data stored in this GPL-2 database is yours, any stored procedure you write to extend functionality is yours. Modify the code however and if you choose to release it it has to be under GPL-2 as well.
Here’s a link to the general GPLv2 FAQ: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0-faq.en.html
- Use in-house software development resources
- Subcontract the customization effort to a third party chosen by the customer
- Work with a TAO Authorized Partner
- Work directly with OAT.
In case the customer doesn’t have these skills in-house, or has them available but they are allocated to other projects, the customer can outsource the effort to a partner of their choice. In order to guarantee the best possible service, OAT strongly recommends that users work with a TAO Authorized Partner, or with OAT directly.
This is where OAT comes in. By publishing TAO under GPL-2, the most commonly used Open Source license, customers win in two significant ways:
- By controlling the source code they gain speed and agility, which are the keys to innovation.
- And equally important, they pay only for what they really need: after the customization is done, they are free to use TAO as they see fit. No license fees, no test-delivery fees ever.
Among the Open Source providers, there are several options available besides TAO such as QTIWorks from the University of Edinburgh, or Concerto from the Cambridge University. However, they tend to be marked by two shortcomings: first, they lack the functional depth of TAO and second, it is difficult to find companies providing the services required to ensure smooth production deployments. For a client who disposes of the necessary IT skills in-house, this should not be an issue though.
- Through professional services in the context of direct client engagements: these include consulting, platform customization, development of new features, cloud-based hosting, technical support and maintenance.
- Through a revenue sharing program with TAO Authorized Partners: any time an authorized partner delivers TAO-based services to a client, they share a portion of this revenue with OAT.
- Software development
OAT develops and publishes TAO, an industrial-strength, standards-compliant, Open Source assessment and survey platform. The TAO software is typically updated twice a year in Spring and in Fall, with under-the-hood improvements, user interface enhancements and/or new features being packed into each major release.
OAT makes all this Intellectual Property available free of charge via the GNU GPL 2 license.
- Professional services
OAT has accumulated years of experience in designing and deploying multi-lingual assessment solutions and surveys for international delivery. We make this expertise available to our clients in the form of CBT migration workshops and product trainings. We also assist our clients with their requirements analysis, and provide development services to tailor TAO to the client’s needs – be it through customization of the existing system or developing new, client-specific functionality.
- Support & maintenance
Support for the TAO platform is available through the TAO Hub at https://hub.taocloud.org/. The hub provides a convenient way for users to interact with TAO’s Open Source community. However, clients with commercial deployments often require predictable response times, and for these we offer dedicated support & maintenance agreements to ensure a reliable and positive test experience.
- Hosted test delivery
To clients who do not want to use their own servers for content development or test delivery, we offer hosting services on the OAT cloud. By working with leading providers such as Amazon and Linode, we are able to provide a highly scalable, robust environment for both online content development and test delivery.
Whether deploying proprietary or Open Source software, customers should always secure their environment through both organizational and IT administrative means to prevent unauthorized access to test content, student grades, etc. In addition, customers should implement anti-cheating measures during test delivery. Again, there is no distinction here between proprietary or Open Source software.
On a functional level, TAO does encrypt data via HTTPS, provide User Identification via encrypted passwords, Back-office identification based on assigned roles and access rights.