A Game of (Item) Clones

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Queen Cersei, Game of Thrones

This past week, I was in St. Louis for the annual USDLA (United States Distance Learning Association) conference; coincidently, talking about how to develop item clones. It occurred to me, that as a practice, the development of item clones is a bit like a game –  in that, you can use different item cloning strategies depending on the needs of your testing organization.

Not unlike the TV series and book by the same name, A Game of Thrones, there are three main storylines one can follow that, when woven together, provide a compelling strategy for empire expansion, intrigue, and… revenge.

Let us call these storylines the three houses:

The house of test expansion – Rosalucia, Royal Assessment  Prime Minister for the University of Galtonius, must expand her item banks for students earning degrees in Knightship, Stewardship, and Collection of Royal Taxes (aka, Accounting). She is fearful that without creating item clones, her items for her current course exams will become obsolete and overexposed from overuse. Therefore, she must clone.

The house of test cheats – Garman, King of Technologicus, is concerned that test items are being stolen and distributed by horseback throughout the kingdom. He begins to get wise to this practice when he finds several trebuchet apprentice test takers complete their exams in less than five minutes. Yet, none of them can seem to build a trebuchet (i.e., siege catapult) that works. In order to curb this bad behavior, Garman creates item clones that are very similar to the original items to trick the trebuchet-wannabes into thinking it is the same test. These test takers fail miserably and are sent to the dungeon.

The house of retribution – Davinius, the brave knight from Assessmidium, has learned from his travels that kingdoms both near and far are experiencing item theft from their royal test vaults. Being the steadfast protector of Assessmidum’s most prized test items, Davinius makes a pilgrimage to bring in Cavonicus, the best item clone developer in the land, to create item clones which trap, fool, and deceive the test takers who have used the stolen item banks. In this way, these slimy item thieves get their just desserts because they don’t pass the tests.

These three houses paint a captivating story. When woven together, they provide an overarching strategy for item cloning. I’m sure you will consider one or more of these strategies for your own testing kingdom.

“When you play the game of clones, you either create item clones or you die of item exposure. There is no middle ground.” Queen Jamie, Game of (Item) Clones


Jamie Mulkey

Vice President of Client Services, Caveon Test Security

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