Use my adaptive learning software to create your own educational website.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What does it cost to create a website using the TestOnline software?

We will host your website, including use of the TestOnline software, for:

Basic package
Setup fee $1,000
Monthly fee $50
Disk space allotment Up to 5 GB
Usage allotment Up to 50,000 pages served per month

Add-ons
Additional disk space $1 / month per additional GB
Additional usage $1 / 1,000 additional pages served
Additional training and support $75 / hour

To put this into perspective, our flagship website, HamTestOnline, currently gets about 1,600 unique visitors and 80,000 hits per day.  It uses about 15GB of disk space.  So if your website gets that big, you'd be paying about $2,400 per month for web hosting and the use of the software.  For our website that's roughtly 15% of monthly sales.

 

What does this price include?

The setup fee includes all steps required to get your website up and running (JVM, software, database, DNS entries, etc.), plus up to 10 hours of telephone training for your coursemaster(s).

The monthly fee includes:

  • Normal web hosting support, including regular backups.
     
  • Use of the TestOnline software.
     
  • Periodic upgrades to the TestOnline software.

 

Why are the hosting costs based on pages served?

A TestOnline website demands a lot more processing power than a typical static website because the task performed by our software is much more complex.  Also, this application demands lightning-fast response time.  Customers start complaining, and even leaving the site (!), when response times exceed one second.

A typical hosting company puts hundreds of websites on a single server and serves millions of static pages per day.  During peak periods, response times may be several seconds.  In order to keep our response times consistently fast, we provide a lot more hardware than a typical web host, and the hardware required is directly proportional to the number of transactions
  

Can I make money on my website?

Of course.  You can sell subscriptions to one or more courses.  Or you can ask for donations.  You can sell banner advertising, T-shirts, mugs, and whatever.

 

Do I have to make my website available to the general public?

No.  You can use passwords to restrict access to yourself, or to any group of people you choose.  You can even keep search engines from seeing the content of your site if you wish.

 

Can I name my website xxxTestOnline?

Maybe.  The TestOnline name is trademarked.  We only allow its use for websites that meet certain standards of quality, taste, and look-and-feel.

If, in our opinion, your website does not meet our standards, you may have to name it something else.  However, even if you cannot use the TestOnline name, you can still use the software.

 

Is there any advantage to naming my website xxxTestOnline?

We are trying to establish a reputation for high-quality educational websites.  We're off to a great start, as users of the HamTestOnline website are almost universal in their high praise.  (See feedback.)

All TestOnline websites include prominent links to the other members of the  family.  This will help people find your course, with an implicit suggestion that it is another one of our high-quality websites.

 

Can I use my own domain name?

Yes.  If you choose a domain name ending in testonline.com, we will register it and own it.  We will let you use it free-of-charge for your TestOnline website.

If you choose a different style of name, you will register a domain name yourself, and you will own and control it.  (This will cost you about $10/year.)

You can have an unlimited number of domain names pointing to the same website.  (To see how this works, type "hamexams.com" into the address line of your browser.  It is one of many domain names that point to the HamTestOnline website.)  This allows you to block potential future competitors from getting good competing domain names.

We can also host a sub-domain of your existing domain.  For example, if your company has a website at www.widgets.com, we could host, for example, www.education.widgits.com.  All you have to do is add an entry to the DNS for your domain to point the sub-domain to our server.

 

What would make a good subject area?

Well, first of all, it should be something that you are interested in.  You should already be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the field, or you should be willing to become a very knowledgeable about it.

The TestOnline software is better suited to some kinds of subject areas:

  • It particularly shines when repetition is required in order to memorize facts or answers.  So it would be great for learning foreign-language vocabulary words, state names and capitals, ticker symbols, the periodic chart, any specialized terminology, or almost any kind of information that is appropriately displayed in a table.
     
  • It has been very effective at preparing people for certification exams when the exam questions are drawn from a published question pool.
     
  • The subject must lend itself to true/false, multiple choice, and simple fill-in-the-blank questions.  While it could be used to present thought questions, it would be useless for evaluating the answers.  Likewise, it is unable to evaluate written compositions.
     
  • The subject area should be challenging.  People are not going to pay for a course if reading once through the material is sufficient.
     
  • You are more likely to make money if your students are interested in the subject matter and/or highly motivated to succeed.  So hobbies or professional certifications are good choices. 
     
  • We've had better luck marketing to adults than to teenagers.  Perhaps it's because adults are more likely to have credit cards, making it easier for them to pay us.  Perhaps it's because teenagers are burnt out on learning due to all those years of school.  They would rather spend their money on other things.

 

How hard is it to build a course?

Make no mistake about it — it's a lot of work:

  • Organizing the materials in a logical progression.
     
  • Thinking up effective questions and distractors.
     
  • Writing clear, concise, and accurate informational texts.
     
  • Choosing useful explanations and hints.
     
  • Finding pictures and creating figures that help explain the materials (and keep the students interested).

These tasks require talent and time!

If your test questions are drawn from a published question pool, you're off to a good start.  If you can get your question pool in electronic form, we can usually import it with less than 40 hours of programmer time.  We charge $75/hour for that kind of programming.

Even if you start with published question pools, you're still going to need to create the course around these questions and answers.  If you own the copyright to some great informational texts, that helps a lot, too.  Otherwise, you're going to spend a lot of time creating the course materials.

It's a big undertaking, and other than importing question pools, software cannot make these chores any easier.

 

Are you trying to talk me out of doing this?

We're suggesting that you consider carefully before starting a project like this.

  • An entrepreneur is someone who will work 80 hours per week for himself in order to avoid working 40 hour per week for someone else.  Does this sound like you?
     
  • Are you a self-starter?  We're not going to nag you to finish your course.  Do you generally finish the things you start?
     
  • Do you have the skills to create the course yourself, or can you afford to hire others to create it for you?  It takes talent to write good informational texts.
     
  • Are you in a position to make a significant investment up front in exchange for potential future profits?
     
  • How big is the market for your courses?  How much competition is there?
     
  • How will you market your website?
     
  • Will you be available to support your customers yourself, or will you need to hire someone to do that?

 

Why do I have to market it?  Won't it sell itself?

“If you build a better mousetrap, the company with the best marketing department will win.”  Marketing the website is harder and more expensive than creating it.

To market the HamTestOnline website, we gave away door prizes to hundreds of conventions and hamfests in exchange for links from their websites.  This resulted in high search engine rankings.  We personally attended conventions and trade shows.  We reinvested all of the profits for the first few years into marketing, primarily magazine and online banner ads.  With all those initial marketing expenses, it was years before our site became profitable.

Will you be able to find a way to get many high-quality websites to link to yours?  You need hundreds before you get high rankings in the search engines.  Can you afford the time and money to market your course?

 

What do end users like about this software?

  • The courses are browser-based, with nothing to download or install.  Students can login from home, school, work, or wherever and pick up right where they left off.
     
  • It tracks the process of each student through the course, and remembers even if it's months between study sessions.
     
  • Automatic "intelligent repetition" adapts the speed of the course to the student's ability.  Students can adjust their repetition rate.
     
  • Single-click answer and advance makes it super easy to use.
     
  • "Show answers", "50/50", "Skip for now", and hint buttons.
     
  • User-controllable email reminders.
     
  • Practice exams, especially the ones that focus on your weak areas and the hardest questions.

 

What do course developers like about this software?

  • Courses are built using online screens.
     
  • Supports reference, informational, true/false, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank items.
     
  • Our inline HTML Editor makes it easy to use styles, fonts, colors, bold, italics, tables, images, hyperlinks, etc.
     
  • Data tables allow you to write one set of questions and apply them to each row in a table.
     
  • Precedences allow you to arrange the course in a logical order.
     
  • Relationships allow linking questions so the answers to one question affect the scores of the others.
     
  • The ability to assign mentors to each different sub-topic.
     
  • Complete banner ad management.
     
  • Various screens with administrator information — usage statistics, logfile, who's on now, etc.
     
  • While we retain full ownership of the software, you retain full ownership of the courseware and HTML pages that you develop.

If you want to learn more about specific features of our software, read www.hamtestonline.com/faq.htm.

 

How do I get started?

  1. Choose your subject area.  Contact J.C. at jc@softwaremiracles.com or 602-773-1965 to find out whether this subject area is already under development.
     
  2. Do your homework:  Is this software a good match for your subject area?  Are you the right person to create this course?  How much effort will it take to create the website?  How much ongoing maintenance will it require?  How big is your market?  What is your competition?  How will you market the course?  What can you charge for the course?  How will you support your customers?  What is your expected return?  Is it worth it?
     
  3. Decide whether you want your website to be in the TestOnline family.
     
  4. Choose a domain name.
     
  5. Think again.  This is a huge undertaking.  Are you sure you are ready to invest this much time, energy, and money?
     
  6. Contact J.C. at jc@softwaremiracles.com or at 602-773-1965 to sign up.
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