OpenLabyrinth is increasingly used for data gathering and survey-like functions in medical education research. The number of question types has grown enormously and there are now few formats that are not supported. This, along with secure user management, connectivity to other educational tools such as LMSs (Moodle, Desire2Learn etc), via IMS-LTI authentication, and to Learning Record Stores (such as Watershed, GrassBlade, Wax LRS etc), has made OpenLabyrinth into a powerful educational research platform.
But there are other survey tools out there that you should also know about and consider in education research, especially in the health professions. REDCap is such a tool and we are fortunate that, at the University of Calgary, our Clinical Research Unit (CRU) is very effective at supporting the use of REDCap.
So, what is the difference between OpenLabyrinth, REDCap, and other survey tools such as SurveyMonkey? Well, the main thing that both OpenLabyrinth and REDCap offer is that you have better control over your data, where it resides and the custodianship/governance of this data. Cloud-based 3rd party tools such as SurveyMonkey and FluidSurveys (recently bought out by SurveyMonkey) are very good but you have no say as to where the data resides, which is of significant concern to ethics boards when it comes to anything that is health related. Patriot Act, anyone?
Both OpenLabyrinth and REDCap are open-source and freely available, although most end-users will not want to go to the hassle of setting up their own server. Both are secure and can be linked to other authentication mechanisms such as OAuth. REDCap is definitely focused more on clinical research. There are hundreds of existing validated survey instruments that you can make use of.
OpenLabyrinth is more focused on educational research. It also offers access to much more in the way of educational interactions, such as the CURIOS video mashup tool, linking to clinical scenarios and other forms of simulation, and complex branching pathways with logic rules etc.
Thanks to Mark Lowerison and the helpful folks at CRU, we have also been able to successfully connect between OpenLabyrinth and REDCap servers in a secure method, which means that you can take advantage of the best aspects of both research tools. Contact us if you are interested in exploring this further.