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American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators Awards UF/IFAS for Its Innovative Testing Platform.

AAPSE award

The University of Florida (UF) and Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) were recently awarded for their innovative vision on modernizing the system that manages the state’s certification exams.

“Without amazing partners like Everblue, this doesn’t happen,” said UF’s Brett Bultemeier. “There were many that asked, ‘What’s it like working with Everblue?’ and I was able to say AMAZING. The dedication and skill that their team has makes all this run. Even though Tamara and I were there to collect [this award], this really is a team award. Congratulations and thank you for being such great partners.”

This award-winning modernization effort started in 2020, when FDACS approached Everblue about modernizing the state’s legacy system for delivering certification exams. Traditionally, the exams were administered in-person at physical test centers throughout the state. Both FDACS and UF were interested in increasing efficiency, improving the test-taking experience, and showcasing public sector innovation. 

Requirements.  To develop the best possible solution, Everblue’s team invested time up front understanding stakeholder needs, wants, and pain points. We interviewed staff from different departments and created wireframes, personas, and user stories. This process was iterative, collaborative, and highly interactive. Most of our public sector partners are surprised at our responsiveness, how much we like to talk to them, and how often we ask for their input.

Development.  We implemented our base platform, including Moodle, on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Frequent releases included updated branding, configured user roles and permissions, digitized exam content, and online-to-offline (paper) exam functionality. This iterative process included sprints focused on developing an integration allowing candidate and exam data to flow smoothly between Everblue, UF, and FDACS. Initially, the government’s legacy IT systems were so antiquated that they could not send or receive data, so we helped the state update these adjacent systems as part of the project. We also developed the functionality to use a single test bank to deliver exams online in-person, online remotely, or printed for in-person delivery. All exam results are synced into the system’s database so that there is a single repository.

Brett Bultemeier and Tamara James

Testing.  As part of our process, Everblue focuses on creating unit test cases before writing any code. Further, we created accounts for FDACS/UF staff and encouraged them to navigate through the portal to ensure that all features were working as desired. We actively sought stakeholder feedback for our technical team every step of the way, ensuring complete satisfaction and fit prior to launch. 

Delivery.  Our soft launch consisted of five online exams. Initially, FDACS wanted to start with a handful of digitized exams, while still offering the ability to test in-person using its legacy system and processes. Realizing that Everblue’s system dramatically reduced manual effort, time, and frustration while also improving the experience for exam candidates, the state is accelerating its shift away from its legacy technology. As Everblue’s system can deliver the same exams in multiple formats (online in-person, online remotely, or printed for in-person delivery), the state has maintained flexibility while improving everyone’s experience.

Feedback.  After a successful soft launch, we began planning for the next phase of online test delivery with FDACS/UF, digitizing more exams and further automating the flow of information between all of our systems. 

Initially the State of Florida was only considering the possibility of online exams. Now, we’re:

From application to license issuance, the entire process is automated. Our workflow engine manages the logic and various triggers to carry candidate information through the entire exam process. Staff members love it because it has relieved them from repetitive, time-consuming, manual processes. Exam candidates love having multiple exam formats available and that the entire process is so much faster and easier now.

Everblue’s partnership with the State of Florida is open-ended, and we look forward to iterating our way to solve more problems for the government and its constituents.

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