Using 'Start Time' to Control Assessments

The timer configuration option start_timeincreases the flexibility of the Learnosity timer and adds an additional layer of integrity where an assessment must be completed within a strict period. 

Video 1: overview of the 'start_time' feature.


With its clock relying on the server rather than local storage, start_time accurately tracks the time remaining in an assessment by capturing the assessment start time as a UTC timestamp. This option enables easy scheduling of assessments and ensures fairness in any timed assessment. It provides an alternative mode of operation alingside existing timer options.

“Hard type” timer 

The “hard type” timer commences an assessment at a specified UTC time and keeps the assessment open for a set amount of time (max_time). If max_time is 30 minutes, the assessment will close at the time 30 minutes after the UTC start timestamp.

Example 1 - hard type timer, attempt to start early

An assessment is scheduled to start at 2:00 PM and end at 2:30PM. A student attempts to access the assessment at 1:55PM. They will encounter a 5-minute countdown before they can access the assessment to begin.  Once the assessment has commenced, the 30 minute assessment countdown commences.

Example 2 - hard type timer, attempt to start late

An assessment is scheduled to start at 2:00 PM  and end at 2:30PM.  A student attempts to access the assessment at 2:05 PM, they will see 5 minutes has already elapsed on the timer and their assessment will still end at 2:30 PM.

“Soft type” timer

The "soft type" timer captures the UTC timestamp when a learner first initializes an assessment.

Example 3 - soft type timer

A student starts their assessment at 2:05 PM and max_time is set to 30 minutes. With the Soft Type timer, the assessment opens when the learner begins and ends once max_time runs out. In this scenario the 30 minute assessment that the student initiated at 2:05 PM would end at 2:35 PM.

Pausing the assessment

When using the start_time configuration, it's important to note that pausing the assessment will not halt the timer. This design ensures the assessment's integrity and consistency.

Further reading

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