CTL Blog

Behind the Scenes Improvements to Maintaining Connections to CoursePlus While Taking Exams

June 11, 2018 | 1 Minute Read

The team that builds CoursePlus has put a lot of effort into making online exams as seamless as possible.

Even so, a common problem encountered by students taking longer exams in CoursePlus is a disconnect from the CoursePlus server cluster while taking the exam. This is most often caused by changes in the wireless connection (i.e.; a student is on a public or guest wireless network that recycles connections frequently), but can also be caused by a myriad of other issues related to the stateless nature of Web connections.

The Quiz Generator has been reworked to automatically log a student back into CoursePlus if the student is disconnected (and therefore logged out) while taking a quiz/exam. Previously, student answers would continue to be saved in the background even if a student was dicsconnected (and therefore logged out of CoursePlus) while taking an exam. This work has been extended to the much trickier problem of automatically rebuilding an entire session and all of the required information for that session.

Using a cryptographically signed hash sent on every request while taking a quiz, CoursePlus can derive the student login information and rebuild their active session in CoursePlus. This prevents students from clicking the "Submit Answers" button and then immediately being asked to sign in to CoursePlus — a frequent source of panic by students.

We expect that this change will significantly reduce the friction caused by disconnects in CoursePlus, and reduce the stress it causes to both students and faculty when taking online exams.

If you have any questions about this new change, please contact CTL Help!