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Crash Recovery

Posted by David Brannan on Jan 15, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Most of us have accidentally closed a window, had our browser crash, lost connectivity, or had a session time-out in the middle of doing something important online. It can be a very frustrating experience, we know. We have been working diligently over the past year to redesign the fundamental infrastructure of the student exam interface, and the interface now addresses the most basic issues people experience when using online forms.

One question at a time

The new student interface in Exam Professor now displays only one question at a time. This is actually a blessing in disguise because it allows a teacher to create very long exams, without having to worry about load times. No matter if your exam is 10 questions or 100 questions, the server only loads and displays one question at a time. While a student is patiently reading, pondering, and thinking over an answer the student interface is busy loading the rest of questions in the background.

One answer at a time

When a student answers a question (or changes an answer) the answer is immediately stored in the database. This builds reliability into the system to address potential loss of connectivity, browser crashes, or session time-outs. If for some reason one of these issues occurs while taking an exam, the student can log-in and resume where he or she left off.

What about public exams?

Exam Professor allows teachers to offer exams without a log-in. These are called "guest exams" and employs a different method for preserving user data since no direct no log-in has occurred. When a public exam is loaded a cookie is saved on the student's computer that identifies which exam was loaded, and how many times that exam has been taken. As a student moves his or her way through a public exam, each question is stored in Exam Professor's database in the same fashion as a private exam. Again, if connectivity is lost, the browser crashes, or a session-timeout occurs a student can resume where he or she left off by simply reloading the exam. Exam Professor will read the cookie on the guest student's computer and re-load the saved answers.

Note: A guest student must have cookies enabled in order to reload saved answers.

The key advantage of the new student interface is that it continually pushes and pulls data to and from Exam Professor's servers. By constantly updating questions and saved answers in this fashion we reduce the risk of losing data when loading, saving, or editing a large exam.



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