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    Angry Pearson Online Platform

    We have a RM CC4 network and I first installed this software in June for a PE BTEC exam. As I was unfamiliar with the whole process It took me about 26 hours to complete the many steps involved and reading paperwork/sending emails.
    I was horrified that, after so much work in the summer, I had to go through the whole process again when Pearson announced that they were upgrading the software for the December 2013 exam.
    What was infuriating was the fact that a requirement for using their new software was to install Microsoft Visual C ++ 2012. RM advised us that as part of our system we have v2008 and if we upgrade to the latest version other pre installed software would not work as it depends on the 2008 version. After several emails I received the news that we would be ok with the 2008 version. This delayed our installation – they had set a deadline to do the upgrade so time was very tight.
    Their expectation is that you install the Testplayer software locally on each machine and therefore when an upgrade happens you only have to run the upgrade on each machine. Obviously on any network this is not the way things are done when involving installs on multiple computers. I have had to do a complete re install, building a new package and re installing the Admin and Invigilator dashboards completely in case they don’t communicate with each other with different builds. Fortunately the actual process for this has only taken two days. On their website they say to allow at least one hour for the installation.
    However, it did all install ok on our RM CC4 network and the machines where the Testplayer was installed successfully connected to the Invigilator computer – and the Invigilator dashboard to the Admin dashboard – and everything connected to the Exam Centre Service on the server automatically.
    The actual software for the POP installation involves 4 separate components –
    1. Exam Centre Service – download their msi and install the program on server – C:\Program Files\Pearson\ExamCentreService\ . The application will need to store data which needs to be accessible to the student users so changed the ‘DataStore’ path to the General Shared area in a pre prepared folder named ESM_Test_Centre. I also entered details of our proxy server in the set up. After this setup it gives you instructions to find the downloaded MSIs for the for the other consoles.
    2. Administrator Dashboard – follow their instructions to install this locally on the exams officer’s computer locally. The AD needs to be left open, and the administrator logged on the exams officer’ computer to install the next component.
    3. Invigilator Dashboard – this needs to be installed on one computer in each exam room. Again the ID needs to be open and logged on as the Invigilator during the next step.
    4. Test Player –Using the MSI provided with the installation of the ExamCentreService the package built ok using App Wizard. Test users are provided for the test process and final candidate users are provided the day before the exam. Needed to make a shortcut available to the candidate users.
    We have just completed the demo test – on each computer which will be used for the exam - and have had confirmation that the tests were uploaded ok. For each of these demo tests in June and the one for December we fortunately did not have too many candidates, but next year we will have around 40. They really need to understand their ‘target market’ and that poor school technicians do have other work to do!
    I am now waiting in trepidation for the actual exam to see whether it will all work ok without the Microsoft Visual version that their new is meant to be dependent on……

  2. Thanks to mpatkts from:

    mjk (11th November 2013)

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    mjk
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    I have had nothing but problems with this software, when I first installed it before the upgrade was released it didn't work at all, it did work briefly when I upgraded it but have tried a dummy test this morning and now the exam students can't log-in because the test player can't connect to the invigilator dashboard. I have found that closing and re-opening the invigilator dashboard causes the invigilator account to be locked and you have to then enable it again in the admin dashboard! You have to set-up the connection to the invigilator dashboard when each user logs-in, this should be set per computer and not per user as you can't pre-configure all the machines beforehand. Also, if you have ffdshow installed it stops the video playback in the tests working so we've had to remove this from all the test machines. (You can white-list it in the ffdshow settings but this is a user specific setting which is a hassle because the students use a custom mandatory profile)
    Last edited by mjk; 11th November 2013 at 01:05 PM.

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    I always create specific user log ons for exams, then any settings required will only be available for the duration of the exam. These users could even have privileged status temporarily on computers if necessary. I think I was lucky that this all worked, but during the installation of Testplayer I had the Admin and invigilator dashboards open and signed into when I assigned the Testplayer from the RM Management console. The exams officer's log in has privileged user settings anyway so she uses her usual log on. I created a new log on for the invigilator, as this could be anyone, which has usual teacher settings, think I added invigilator to privileged on the local machine as well. I had to go onto each computer and 'discover' the invigilator dashboard, which will be a nightmare next summer as we have over 40 students doing BTEC online.
    I usually create user log in slips for online exams and for this one they also get one which is generated on the invigilator dashboard.
    Don't know if this is much help as I'm not a 'techie' and very lucky that, although it took hours first time round, it worked. I have written some pretty scathing emails to Pearson though. Their developers just have no idea what it is like to run a school network, they don't realise that we have other tasks to do!

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    We have been using this software since 2008, and I have had nothing but problems and compatibility issues with it. Trying to contact their support desk is a nightmare and i am often left on hold for several minutes. I find that the level of technical know-how varies from operator to operator and I am often referred to their 2nd line support. I always dread it when updates are applied, as this will always mean a phone call to get things right! Would I recommend this software?... NO

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    davipton (22nd November 2013)

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    After testing with our upstream we discovered that not only port 443 is used but for some unknown reason UDP port 137 is also used. I have asked for clarification why this is needed so I can get the port open. If you are having issues with the admin dashboard not working it may be worth checking your event viewer as my errors show it is getting an invalid user and cs line faults from their end. This information has been forwarded to them but as of yet an acceptable response has not been received .



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