ATE 101: Tools & Technology

There are a variety of tools available to support the goals of ATE projects and centers, whether those goals are building an online digital collection, surveying educators or industry, providing webinars for project updates or collaborating with project partners, or something else entirely.

Microsite Service

Having a website can be a critical tool in supporting outreach efforts and connecting with your audience and collaborators.  But development and maintenance of a website is time consuming, and establishing a web presence to showcase progress, events, and deliverables while staying within budget and on schedule can be difficult.  And even if your center or project budget includes the resources to develop a website, it can take months to get a site up and running, during which time other project elements may suffer from having no online presence.

ATE Central’s Microsite Service helps address these issues through a tool that allows ATE projects and centers to very quickly and easily create their own mini website, and use that site to share documents, publish curriculum materials, announce events and publications, and disseminate the products and progress of their grant.

More information about the Microsite Service can be found here.  If you're an ATE grantee and would like a microsite, please email

Webinar Platforms

Used with increasing frequency, webinars are great avenues for partner meetings, providing users with project updates, or presenting information about project or center deliverables to industry or educators. Here are a few popular options for setting up webinars:

Intermedia (formerly AnyMeeting) allows you to host webinars using slides or screen-sharing with up to 12 HD video presenters and up to 1,000 attendees. It also allows for quick polls with real-time results, and provides analytics tools.

Pricing for webinars with up to 15 participants is $49 per month. GoToMeeting has a whole suite of products (GoToMeeting; GoToWebinar; GoToTraining). GoToMeeting is the least expensive of the products offered. GoToMeeting provides the basics, allowing you to screen share, record your meeting, and conduct audio conferencing, but is more expensive than other webinar packages available.

WebEx is a CISCO product, with a variety of plans at a variety of price points. The free version allows for 1 host and up to 100 attendees, while the Business plan ($26.95 per host per month) allows up to 100 hosts and up to 200 attendees, and there are additional options in between. The site has a host of demo videos, though they are primarily related to using the package in industry settings for sales and training rather than in educational settings.

The increasingly popular Zoom is a platform with a variety of options. Their standard meetings service has free and paid versions, allowing for recording, host controls, screen sharing, whiteboarding, and more. Their webinar service also has a variety of plans at different price points, and offers more robust features.

Online Survey Packages

Creating an online survey these days couldn’t be easier. Whether you are gathering data about your web site’s usability or creating a quick questionnaire to help evaluate workshop participants' satisfaction, you can find an easy-to-use (and often free) solution readily available. Below are several packages to explore:

All of LimeSurvey's packages allow for unlimited surveys and no feature restrictions. Their free version allows up to 25 responses per month, while paid versions allow more, among other features like white-label solutions and the ability to go ad-free.

SurveyMonkey also provides a varity of plans, both business and personal. Their free version allows for unlimited surveys, 10 questions per survey, and caps at 40 responses per survey. Paid plans range from $25 to $75 per user per month for business plans, and $32 to $99 per month for personal plans - each with their own list of additional features.

Alchemer, formerly SurveyGizmo, offers individuals and small teams, in addition to business plans. They offer free trials for each indivudal/small team plan, which then range from $49/month to $249/month. At any price, Alchemer's plans are rich with options.

Metavus Digital Collection Platform

ATE Central’s online portal is built using Metavus, a digital collections platform developed by Internet Scout. Developed with funding from the Mellon Foundation and NSF, Metavus is open source and free for anyone to use. A number of ATE centers use Metavus for their resource collections.

In addition to a highly searchable database, the software offers a number of handy features that allow collection developers to quickly and easily create an online digital collection, including a customizable interface and tools that allow you to create and edit your own metadata schema. Metavus has keyword, faceted search, and advanced fielded searching capabilities, and allows you to save, narrow, or refine searches in a number of ways. A very useful feature is that it allows users to rate resources (from one to five stars) or add comments about those resources for others to read. A customizable bulletin service alerts users when new resources in their field have been added.

With built-in cataloging and workflow tools as well as a customizable metadata schema, Metavus offers those in ATE community an easy solution for creating their online digital resource collection portal. Below is a basic feature list for the Metavus software:

  • Searching/Browsing
    • Keyword searching
    • Fielded searching
    • Synonym support
    • One-click searching
    • REST-compliant search URLs
    • Field weighting
    • Phrase support and term exclusion
    • My Searches feature
    • Dynamically generated browse UI
    • Multiple taxonomy support
  • User participation
    • Resource rating
    • Resource commenting/discussion
    • Monitoring of recent comments
    • Integrated usage tracking support
    • OpenID single sign-on support
  • Metadata tool
    • Completely configurable schema
    • 15 fundamental data types
    • One-click vocabulary and taxonomy import
    • One-click controlled vocabulary export
    • Multi-modal term selection interface
    • Integrated automated URL checker
  • Recommender system
    • recommendations
    • Content-based recommender
    • Field weighting support
  • RSS
    • Configurable RSS feed export
    • Multiple RSS feed import
    • User-customizable RSS feeds
  • Accessibility
    • W3C/WAI compliant interface
    • ACCLIP metadata field support
    • Configurable Metavus/OAI field mapping
    • Any controlled field usable for OAI sets OAI-SQ (search via OAI) support
    • Google Maps integration support
  • User interface
    • Support for multiple custom interfaces
    • Complete PHP/HTML separation
    • Plugin system providing hooks for customization
    • User interfaces assignable on per-user basis
    • Pre-packaged subject-oriented “themes”
    • CAPTCHA anti-spambot support
  • Technology 
    • Integrated SQL caching to reduce DB load
    • Linux, Solaris, OSX supported
    • Fast (5 minute) installation
    • Drupal integration support
    • phpBB integration support

More information about Metavus can be found at