I had the opportunity to use the Remark Office OMR software to create a scanform template, scan documents and export the data. It was great! I learn easier by doing than by reading a manual, so I just start What could be easier? This opened a dialogue box that required a form name, paper size, orientation on page, etc. The paper size option was great, since I would be scanning documents from Europe, using A4 paper size. I am feeling good! And, I just click NEXT--pretty intuitive!
Create Page Elements
The next page is the Create Page Elements page. Here Remark software asks where the image is coming from. I have a blank copy of the form—you must have a blank copy of the form, whether it’s a paper copy or an electronic copy, it must be blank (not filled out). I am going to scan the form, so I select “read from scanner”. There is a radio button after the read from scanner option for scanner properties. It’s a good idea to set your scanner properties now, as they will need to be set. The hardware properties refer to the scanner you will be using. The scan options refers to what options are needed for the survey form or answer sheet. Now, just scan the form, and click ok. Simple!
The form is on the screen, and its time to tell Remark what's what. It is as easy as that sentence makes it sound. There are icons on the toolbar for defining the various “regions” (types of data to be captured), or there is a list on the left (task pane) of the screen. There are only four options: OMR (optical mark recognition), Barcode, Image, or OCR (optical character recognition).
To define a region, click on the icon, (I clicked OMR) then “draw a box” around that data capture area on the form. (To draw a box, simply left click where one corner of the box should be, holding the mouse down, drag the mouse to where the box should end.) Don’t include anything extra in the box—only the answers to be read, no words from the question, numbers etc. as this will result in errors in the info being “read”—but don’t have the box touching the answers either. When the mouse is released, a dialogue box appears to finish defining that area. Don’t let it scare you!
The “Region Name” is what is going appear across the top (the header row) of the output data sheet. Call it question 1, or field 1, or “content relevancy”-- how the data collected will be identified. This field has a 60-character limit.
OMR or "Bubble" Type Regions
The “OMR type” offers choices in a drop down list:
Multiple - is for multiple-choice questions.
Grid - the field is a grid that will produce a single answer—i.e. a 6-digit I.D. number.
List - there is a list of responses in which one will be chosen. This is the one I used the most.
Add - the answer values will be added together.
Boolean - is used when the answers are "mark all that apply"—i.e. check the items you have tried. If checked, the output will be yes, if blank the output will be no.
Binary - is the same as Boolean, only the output is in binary string, one cell with 0s and 1s.
Rank - will produce the response in the order that they were “ranked” by the respondent, rather than the order on the form.
The “Data Type”–is the desired output numbers or words? (1,2,3,4, or Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor).
“Region Layout” is the orientation of the data—are the answers in rows or columns—and how many of each. This must match the box on the form—if the box surrounds a row of six circles and the response is only five, the error will be noted. (When “ok” is clicked, the box will turn red and when the curser is placed over the box, the error will be explained.)
“Possible Responses” is “answer” choices. The possible value scale allows you to set the value ranges—0 to 5, or 1 to 6. The labels are essentially the words (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor) and the values are the numbers (1,2,3,4)—don’t let it scare you!
At this point, I also set the "Region Item Properties" (from the task pane on the left). My project was not a test, so the only properties to consider were Blank Exception handling and Multiple Exception handling. (How Remark should identify unanswered questions and questions with multiple answers in the data capture—is “BLANK” to be printed out, or nothing. Is MULTI to print out—or simply an asterisk?)
Click OK—and back at the form, and the field is green—good to go. Just that simple, continue through the form.
Image or Open-ended Type Regions
The next region, IMAGE, is used two different ways:
Image - allows the handwritten responses to be captured. Simply click on the image icon, and draw a box around the area where the comments will be. Here, the box drawn should be as big as possible, to make sure that all of the written comments are scanned. Again, a dialogue box appears. Name the region, click on image clip and the dialogue box changes to indicate where the images will be stored.
Image can also be used to insert numbers or data to the records. I numbered each survey form. (The scanner doesn’t actually print numbers on the forms, but will add the number on the data capture.) I drew a box (can be in any blank area), named the region “number”, made the region type “data entry”, the data type numeric, chose the default fill as record number, checked the auto increment fill box, and hit OK.
The OCR region (optical character recognition) allows character recognition of machine-generated data only—not hand written data. This can be used to record items like names that were over printed on the forms. Not needed on this survey form.
That was it, I was done! In a short time, I had created a scan template and was ready to scan the survey forms. I opened the Remark OMR Office Data Center, clicked on templates, and opened the template I just created. Then I clicked on Tools, Easy Scan, and began scanning.
The Remark Office OMR Software is just that easy to use! Scan form design can be done using the Data Blocks Concord® Software or even a word processing program, and the scan template created in Remark. Paper survey forms or answer sheets can then be scanned on any flat bed image scanner, and the data analyzed using the numerous reports available in the Remark OMR Data Center software, or data can be exported to the application/program of your choice.
I have a list of 10 Helpful Tips that I learned during this process. Click on the button below to download my tips--avoid the errors I made!
Use Paper Survey AND Mobile Internet Survey to Get the Most from Conference Speaker Evaluations!
Everything has a "hybrid" version these days! Hybrid vehicles use more than one source of power, hybrid dog breeds are all the rage (such as the goldendoodle), and hybrid golf clubs combine the distance of a wood with the accuracy of an iron. The idea of a hybrid is to capture the "best of both worlds" to improve a product's performance or a consumer's experience.
Now, consider a hybrid conference session evaluation:
• A simple, easy to use paper evaluation form the attendees can fill out before leaving the session room while the details of the session are fresh in their mind.
• An online evaluation optimized for mobile devices that allows your attendees to rate the session on their phone or tablet. This option allows the evaluation to be done at the conference, but also allows for a later response.
By having both paper and online rating options, your session evaluations provide the best of both worlds! For the 50-75% of Americans who have a smart phone or a tablet, you have increased their incentive to respond by making the evaluation easier to complete and technologically interesting. For those not equipped with a mobile device, or for those attendees concerned about responding electronically, you have provided an easy way for them to respond on paper.
Know Your Audience!
It is probably not prudent to assume that all of the attendees at your conference can or will want to rate a session online. I recently read a blog post regarding a conference evaluation survey that was done online, using a QR code to allow quick access to the evaluation survey. The conference manager printed the QR code in the program book and on various signs around the conference site. He assumed that the technology was familiar to everyone, and so little explanation was given, and no alternative to the QR code URL was offered. Needless to say, the conference evaluation was a dismal failure! It is definitely important to be aware of the demographics of your attendees and create a conference evaluation methodology that will best fit your organization's unique group.
Not every attendee will have a smart phone or tablet and be able to utilize the mobile version of your session or speaker evaluation, but for those folks who have the technology at hand, the hybrid evaluation will simplify the process.
For more ideas and information about Conference Evaluations and sample session evaluation & sample conference evaluation forms, click the the button below and download our free planning guide!
DATA BLOCKS offers a great software package that works hand in hand with Remark Office OMR® called Concord (or the Concord Suite). This software allows the user to easily create/design test and survey forms that are “plain paper” and scannable on image scanners. The Concord Suite has potential of substantial cost savings for anyone wanting to engage in data collection and analysis.
Scantron forms are “read” by optical mark recognition scanners (OMR), using specially designed machine-readable data capture software. OMR scanners are specially designed to detect and record which bubbles are marked on the bubble answer sheet. The OMR scanner has that single use, to only scan the specially designed and printed scannable forms. Although OMR scanning is very accurate, the forms design requires a trained forms or graphic designer, or special forms designer software like Magenta. If the timing marks and bubbles on the forms are not precise, the data cannot be “read” or detected. The scantron forms must be carefully designed and printed. These additional form requirements add extra time and costs to make sure the forms are printed properly. Copied OMR forms cannot be “read”, often time, the timing marks and answers are not detected at all.
Image scanners, on the other hand, are quite common—most of us have scanners (page, document, or flat bed scanners with an Automatic Document Feeder or ADF)—so no special purchase of dedicated equipment is required. The “plain paper” scantron forms can be scanned on most image scanners. Form design with the Concord product is relatively easy and can be completed “in house” by anyone with a little PC or word processing knowledge. Forms can be printed on your laser printer, or copied on your copier. This allows changes to be made quickly and as needed, and additional forms copied as required.
Once the forms are scanned (by either method), the data is collected and manipulated by the Remark® scanning, reporting and exporting data collection software.
As indicated above, the design of the OMR scannable form is precise and critical. There are rules for the image scannable forms design as well, but the Concord software makes it easy.
The Concord software EZ form wizard “knows” all of the rules and nuances for image scannable form design and incorporates them automatically into your form. To name a few:
Concord used special bubble fonts designed to meet the design requirements of Remark Office OMR and to make sure you have access to lots of different special characters in the bubbles that do not exist in regular fonts.
Allows 3 sizes (small, normal, large) of Circles, Ovals and Squares as bubbles.
Allows at least 3/8 inch between any text, lines or boxes and the bubbles.
Allows at least 1/4 inch between bubbles.
Makes shading, boxes and lines near bubbles very light.
Groups similar types of questions (true and false together, multiple choice together, etc.)
Uses special Barcode fonts with at least 3/8 inch whitespace around them.
Allows at least 3/8 inch margin on all four sides of the form.
This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!
The EZ form wizard really simplifies the process. Simply answer a few questions in the wizard, and start entering your questions—or cut and paste the questions from other forms or a word processor (“real Windows" cut and paste). After leaving the wizard, using regular drawing tools, Concord also allows for graphics (logos), colors, and automatic numbering of questions. Concord has a Data Merge feature that allows for information to be taken from a file (variable data) and merged into the forms in the form of barcodes, bubble fields, (0-9 grids, A-Z grid, BCD or binary) or text data while the forms are being printed. Forms can also be serialized using this feature. Multi-language spell checker is even included.
I downloaded the free software demo, and created a scannable form with true/false and Linkert questions in an afternoon. Quick and simple. I have no graphic design training, or any type of forms creation training what so ever. (We have experts here, I don't need to know how.) If I can do it, so can you!
OMR SCANNABLE FORMS COLLECT A LARGE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION USING A MEDIA THAT MOST PEOPLE ARE ACCUSTOM TO USING
HRA – HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT
A health questionnaire used to provide individuals with an evaluation of their health risks and quality of life. A wellness program using HRA questionnaires incorporates three key elements:
Many healthcare technology and data processing companies in the health risk assessment industry use the HRA questionnaire to provide preventive health plans, applications and services to health improvement organizations, pharmacies, and directly to employers. These companies offer services that support the delivery of health improvement programs to individuals with the following characteristics:
health risk assessments
integrated personal health records
personalized push messaging and content
personalized action plans
health coach program management support tools
administration tools for data management and reporting.
HRA – Customized Scan Forms
Even with the increased emphasis on collecting data electronically (online), an industry leading company still has the need to provide OMR customized scan forms to collect health risk assessment (HRA) information as part of their services. Reasons for continuing to use OMR scan forms in both English and different languages (most prevalent is Spanish) to collect this type of information are:
An employee population with low computer literacy skills
Employees who understand and are comfortable in answering questions on paper
Employees who are skeptical about submitting personal health information electronically
Hard to reach employees
Spanish speaking employees who have difficulties understanding English
There are several reasons that the workplace wellness company made the decision to use OMR customized scan forms to collect HRA data for some of their clients:
OMR technology provides the capability to collect a large amount of personal information, family history and advanced demographics to include biometric test data in the smallest possible footprint on paper based media.
OMR technology is widely used in education and all people understand how to answer questions on forms designed with this technology
OMR scanning technology has been proven to be the most accurate method (+98%) in capturing data from paper, as evidenced by the continued and extensive use of this technology in education to test and evaluate student performance.
OMR scannable HRAs are administered to individuals on a regular schedule in order to collect data which is used to monitor their risk factors over time. The completed HRAs are processed at a central location in a tightly control environment that is compliant with HIPPA requirements concerning personal medical information. The processing center has procedures to insure that HRAs are accurately read by routinely performing redundancy checking of data recorded against date actually marked on the HRAs.
Once individual HRAs are processed, individuals receive a personalized report, detailing their health rating or score, often broken down into specific sub scores in areas such as stress, nutrition and fitness. These reports also provide recommendations on how individuals can reduce their health risks by changing their lifestyle
In addition to individual feedback, HRA results are also used to provide aggregated data reporting for employers and organizations. These reports include demographic data of participants, highlight health risk areas and often include cost projections and savings in terms of increased healthcare, absence and productivity. Organization-level reports can then be used to provide a first step by which organizations can target and monitor appropriate health interventions within their workforce.
OMR technology has been around for the last 40 years and in certain applications such as collecting HRA information, it is still one of the best and most reliable ways to collect information and turn it into actionable data. This technology lends itself to those situations where there is a need to collect a large amount of information with the smallest possible footprint in order to keep production, processing and distribution costs to a minimum.
There is a rapidly growing trend to use online surveys instead of old fashioned paper surveys, especially in commercial uses such as customer satisfaction surveys and conference evaluations. How many times has a cashier handed you your purchase receipt which has a URL and an invitation printed on it for completing a survey online? Most people these days not only have access to a computer and the Internet, both at home and at work, but also access most anywhere through mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
Our blog space has several posts on the lower response rates generated by online surveys vs. paper survey forms, but what if you had both available? In theory, at least, that would provide the highest response rate, while offering your respondents the choice of medium.
What is a QR Code?
QR or "quick response" codes are two dimensional symbols similar to barcodes. Where barcodes only span horizontally and are limited to a maximum of 20 digits, QR codes span horizontally and vertically, and can hold up to a maximum of 7,089 characters. QR codes are used to provide a quick link between printed media and digital content. Most often, the link created leads the user to a specific URL online, but the code can also be created to transfer contact information (think business card), shopping coupons, electronic images–most anything you can imagine. The codes were originally developed by a Toyota subsidiary to track automobile parts. Free QR code reader apps are readily available for most mobile devices, or may even come preloaded on your smart phone. There are also numerous sites online at which you can create, print and save your own QR codes for free.
You have probably seen these funny codes in a multitude of places, not all practical or even useful. A giant QR code on a billboard is a bit hard to scan with your cell phone while driving down the freeway!
Why You Should Use QR Codes on Your Next Conference Evaluation
1. A QR code is the easiest way to make a connection between offline and online!
2. If you offer both a paper and an online session evaluation form, a QR Code on your paper session evaluation form can allow an attendee to instantly access the online version of your form on their smart phone or other mobile device. This should increase response rates for your session evaluations!
3. If you offer only a paper session evaluation form, a QR Code on your form can link attendees to your conference website, or give instant access to an online, downloadable program or schedule.
4. People love to use their gadgets! Next time you are in a restaurant or coffee shop, count the number of people that are clicking away on their cell phones or tablets.
5. Save the Date! A QR Code can be created and added to your form that will put the dates for next year's conference onto their cell phone calendar. What a great way to promote your next event.
Click on the green QR Code at the top of the survey image above to go to the online version of this evaluation. Note: the online version has been specially formatted for functionality on mobile devices (i.e., smart phones or tablets).
Try using QR codes on your next conference session evaluation and boost your response rates!
For more ideas and information about Conference Evaluations and sample session evaluation & sample conference evaluation forms, click the the button below and download our free planning guide!
An essential part of any EHS (environment, health & safety) Program is a survey that can be answered anonymously by all employees. Data collected from this survey helps Management understand the level of employee engagement, strength of their EHS program and the employees’ view of the company leadership commitment to EHS. Paper based, scannable surveys are the best method to use to insure that employees can express their opinions to specific questions openly and feel secure that there will not be any "blow back" on any of their responses.
A employee survey designed with OMR technology is still one of the best and most reliable ways to collect this type of information and turn it into actionable data. This technology lends itself to those situations where it is important to fully understand how the employees honestly feel about the EHS program. A successful EHS program is based on partnership between employee and management with performance predicated on the degree of trust and commitment among all members of a facility workforce.
MANUFACTURING SAFETY SURVEY (FORTUNE 500 COMPANY)
Over the past 2 ½ years, one of the largest operating divisions of a Fortune 500 copies with multiple domestic and international facilities has been using OMR customized forms to collect EHS survey information from their employees. These surveys are conducted repetitively every 9 to 12 months in order to gather employees’ feedback on how their issues and concerns about safety are being addressed over time.
Each of the 65+ facilities has unique organizational or operational characteristics that are addressed with surveys designed specifically for each location. Employees in all categories are required to participate in the survey process as part of regularly scheduled events such as group or department level meetings. Using an OMR customized survey form that all employees can complete in a single setting is the best method for collecting feedback from the maximum number of employees in a timely manner. At most facilities and given the diverse population of employees (factory workers, clerical, engineers, management, etc), paper surveys have and will continue to be the method of choice for collecting safety information within this division.
DOES YOUR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY PROGRAM HAVE THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERTICS AND REQUIREMENTS?
- WIDELY DISPERSED POPULATION
- DIVERSE GROUP OF CUSTOMERS
- HIGH RESPONSE RATE
- MINIMAL PROJECT COSTS
OMR (optical mark read) technology has been in use for the past 40 years and most of us have used this technology as part of our K-12 education experience. Today this "old" technology continues to be used outside of education in a large number of different applications that require the collection of data from paper-based media. In many situations, collecting data using OMR customized forms (forms designed for a specific application) is the best alternative with much better results; getting enough relevant information for data analysis and implementation of appropriate results based activities.
CREDIT UNION & CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
An 80 years old, member owned credit union whose one of its stated missions is “… believes in the power of the human spirit...a business model that trusts and believes in people...we are here to do what many consider naïve and unrealistic - put people first.” As part of this mission and over the past three years, the organization has conducted monthly, in-depth member satisfaction surveys using OMR customized forms to continually measure the organization performance in meeting the mission.
Surveys are mailed monthlyto selected groups of members. The survey questions are directed toward specific areas of importance (mission related) to the credit union such as trust, experience and overall satisfaction. Given the number of questions and the goal to keep mailing costs to a minimum, a survey document designed as an OMR customized form would best fit these needs since all of the survey questions and the ten point rating scale could be accommodated on a single sheet of paper. One of the real benefits of using OMR technology is the capability to accurately read densely compacted documents with an optical mark recognition scanner. Prior to the monthly mailing, each survey is overprinted (pre-slugging) with machine-readable members’ ID numbers. The ID numbers are captured during the scanning process and provide the credit union with the capability to address specific issues and concerns from individual members who responded to the survey.
OMR technology has been around for the last 40 years and in certain applications as highlighted above, it is still one of the best and most reliable ways to collect information and turn it into actionable data. In my opinion, this technology lends itself to those situations where there is a need to collect a large amount of information with the smallest possible footprint in order to keep production, processing and distribution costs to a minimum.
DOES YOUR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY PROGRAM HAVE THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERTICS AND REQUIREMENTS?
OMR (optical mark read) technology has been in use for many years and is most frequency used in K-12 education. Today, this "old" technology is also used outside of education to collect data using scannable paper-based media. In many situations, collecting data using OMR customized forms (forms designed for a specific application) is the best alternative with much better results; getting enough relevant information for data analyst and implementation of appropriate results based activities.
An East Coast consortium represents the largest group of retailers in a specific industry. The consortium collectively leverages the strength of the group and provides its retailer members with enormous buying and marketing power. It has also developed proven systems that create powerful new brand identities where there were none, along with tactical suggestions for product marketing and customer support. These items are shared with their members; members who are constantly seeking new methods to improve profitability and grow their independent businesses.
One service offer by the consortium is to help members measure customer satisfaction with products, sales, installation and support using postage pre-paid, self-mailer, OMR customized survey documents.
Pre-coded surveys are allocated to members who pass them on to customers at the completion of the product sale and/or product installation. Customers mail the postage pre-paid surveys back to a third party company for processing. The surveys are scanned and data files sent weekly to the consortium for analysis. The consortium prepares customer satisfaction reports for each member. Included as part of the report is a comparison on how their customers evaluated their performance when compared to other members’ customers.
OMR technology has been around for many years and in certain applications as highlighted above, it is still one of the best and most reliable ways to collect information and turn it into actionable data. OMR technology lends itself extremely well to those situations where there is a need to collect customer satisfaction data with the smallest possible footprint in order to keep production, processing and distribution costs to a minimum.
All the rage!
Wellness programs/ wellness benefits have become the fastest growing category of employee benefits today. Depending upon what you read, anywhere from 1 in 4 (25%) to 4 in 5 (80%) employers offer/have wellness programs. The reasons behind this trend are just as varying as the statistics:
The projected promise of saving upwards of 20% on health insurance costs,
Reducing corporate absenteeism (purported to nationally cost companies in the neighborhood of $300 billion annually), or
Improving the productivity of those employees who are on the job. (Lack of employee “engagement” is professed to cost anywhere from $36 billion to $300 billion annually.), or
To recruit and retain (perhaps health conscious) employees; with the cost savings being in recruitment, replacement and other turnover costs.
The wellness programs range from very simple to very intricate. Some companies have no smoking policies and offer smoking cessation classes; some offer healthy food options in vending machines and the cafeteria, or on site exercise rooms or equipment; some offer to pay portions of health club memberships; while others have comprehensive workplace programs designed to assess an individual’s health related quality of life, including lifestyle behaviors, compliance with preventive health screenings and protocols, and future disease risks.
The comprehensive programs all seem to follow the same format:
Upper management buy in, and leadership who will lead by example.
Establish a Wellness Committee, or promotion team to outline the program, define activities and goals. Collect information-establish a baseline.
Define a yearly operating plan, based upon the information collected, to include short and long term objectives with health initiatives.
Consistently assess the outcomes; celebrating when goals are met and reviewing or changing initiatives that may not be attainable.
Steps one and two are fairly self-explanatory. If upper management is not “in-tune” with a “healthy” corporate culture-- promoting health awareness, the success of a wellness program is highly unlikely. Any successful corporate program needs a champion at the senior management or “C” level. Wellness (self-ownership or self-care) could be one of the company values.
The Wellness Committee needs to be large enough to advertise and promote the program, plan and coordinate activities, measure outcomes, etc. This team also needs to be the coaches on healthy lifestyles, motivators and cheerleaders. Essentially this team’s objective is to keep the program going.
Health Risk Assessments
Collecting information, or establishing the baseline can be achieved by having employees complete a health risk assessment questionnaire. (Google Health Risk Assessment Questionnaire, today there were 4,200,000 results—by the time you read this, there will be more, I’m sure!) In addition to establishing the baseline, the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) serves to promote health awareness by reviewing one’s personal practices and the impact of choices and revealing potential health issues that may otherwise not be considered, or at least that obvious. I was truly surprised at the range of questions/topics on HRAs.
Questions/categories ranged from nutritional habits, fitness habits, stress management, mental exercises, sleep habits, depression, weight management, heart disease, oral hygiene and flossing habits, seat belt safety and the size of one’s car, sun screen use, education and income, financial planning and “wellness”, environmental risks and even the circumference of one’s waist (not information that I would want to divulge!)—to name a few.
HRAs are presented in various formats—scannable bubble forms, online questionnaires, or “tablet” kiosks at health fairs. Scannable OMR forms are a great way to collect HRA information from your participants. Scantron-type forms allow you to collect a great deal of information using minimal amounts of paper, and are percieved as being more "confidential" when sensitive questions and information is being requested.
After completed forms are scanned, or the electronic data collected, the data can be merged. The participant usually receives an individual report with recommended actions of lifestyle changes, and/or a comparison with all the other participants from his/her group. The company usually also receives a summary report of all of the participants highlighting the health risks for that group, and where changes can or should be made.
Suggestions for change
Once the data is collected, it should be evaluated to determine the greatest opportunity for changes that can lead to health improvement. Reliable research has proven that people can change bad habits to good, and programs can be developed and implemented to help employees change their habits. This is when the health initiatives are defined, making sure that goals are attainable. Hopefully the committee has some creative members who can make these programs fun, challenging or interesting.
And finally, any successful program needs evaluation. Completion of HRAs should be done at a minimum once a year—every 6 months would be better. This allows the individual as well as the company to determine the success of their involvement. Positive outcomes are a great motivator. These could also be indicators of:
Are the goals being met? Are goals too low or too high?
If incentives are involved, are they working?
Are more support programs required?
Are the participants wanting/willing to change habits?
Any program needs to be assessed (and “tweaked”) on a regular basis to keep it current, relevant and successful.
If you are interested in creating your own Health Risk Assessment, and implementing a wellness plan, the CDC has published a check list for implementing an employee program. (They use the word appraisal rather than assessment.) You can download a copy of this checklist by clicking on the button below.
I’m sure most anyone reading this has probably filled out a Scantron-type form at some point in their education, but for those who might be looking to use an OMR form for a survey or test, this article will provide a little background on what OMR technology is and how it works.
Created by IBM in the 1930s, the first OMR sensor was not turned into a successful OMR test scoring device until 1962. In the early 1970s, Scantron Corporation made OMR scanning equipment for schools, to standardize test scoring procedures. OMR scanners are now available for use in many areas, including education, industry, government, research, healthcare, etc.
What is OMR?
Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) is high speed data capture using a sensor light to detect marks on paper survey forms and tests. The OMR scanner has a read head comprised of 48 sensors, which shine onto the form paper. Marks are detected because they are less reflective than the unmarked areas of the paper. This technology is a very fast and accurate way to translate marks on paper into electronic data. OMR scanners can process between 1,500 and 10,000 sheets per hour. Scanners can be configured to read one side of a sheet at a time, or two sides at once (in one pass through the device).
What is an OMR Form?
An OMR form is created by laying out survey or test information using specific parameters that insure the bubbles on the form align with the sensors on an OMR scanner. A grid system which usually spans 48 columns across the width of a page, and between 53 and 80 rows from the top to bottom of the page, is used to create OMR forms. All OMR forms have a timing mark track running down one side of the page. The timing mark track passes under the first column sensor on a scanner, and indicates the location of the “bubble rows” on a page. Usually, special form design software, such as Data Blocks Magenta is used to design OMR forms. This special software automatically places timing marks and bubbles on the page in proper alignment.
After a form is designed consistently to conform to the OMR parameters, it must also be printed in such a way that the spacing and positioning of the bubbles and timing marks is maintained. An OMR form which is not printed accurately will not give accurate results when scanned. If the bubbles are out of position, the fixed light sources of the scanner will not see the filled in marks.
How Does an OMR Scanner Work?
OMR scanners are driven using scanning software, such as Remark Classic OMR, or ScanTools. Using the scanning software, a template is created to map out the X and Y coordinates of the bubbles, and to assign a value to each bubble. Once the scanning template is completed, the forms are placed in the scanner's input hopper. Rollers pull the forms through the scanner, one at a time. As each form passes under the read head lights, the scanner tells the software which bubbles were filled in by the respondent. When the OMR form passes through the scanner, the read head lights within the scanner detect the filled in bubbles, and a predetermined value is returned for each filled in bubble. The "scanned results" can then be exported to any number of formats, such as Excel or Access. The sheet falls into the output hopper, and the next sheet is pulled through.
Is OMR Technology the Best Way to Collect the Data I Need?
There are several things to consider when evaluating which type of technology to use for your project. OMR is best suited to surveys or tests with multiple choice type answers. If you have a lot of open ended questions that require hand written responses, this might not be the best fit for your project. If, on the other hand, your suvey or test is mostly multiple choice items in which the respondent chooses one or more responses, then OMR technology is a great way to get responses from paper into electronic format. Unsure about which survey methodology is best for your project? Contact us. We can look at your survey content and recommend the technology that will best work for your project!
Let Us Show You How Your Data Collection Form Would Look as an OMR Form!
Send your survey questions to Survey Systems, and we will show you what it would look like in OMR format. We'll design a free, one page sample for you.