KB1295 - WeBWorK: Course Configuration and Inactivity Timeout

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As a "Professor" in WeBWork, you can change some of the default settings of your WeBWorK course. This is found in the Course Configuration menu option.

One course setting that's most important is "Inactivity time before a user is forced to login again".
This controls the amount of time WeBWorK will wait between button presses before it considers the user to be "inactive", and forces them to log in again.

In the screenshot below, you can see this setting with a value of "1800". This is in seconds, equalling 30 minutes. That setting of 1800 means that while in this course, if the student or professor do not click a button onscreen within 30 minutes, the WeBWorK web session will expire, and on their next attempt to click, they will be forced to login again.

WeBWorK Configuration page

How much time does it take to complete each of your Gateway Quizzes?

When you're designing an online quiz, it's important to determine how much time it will take for a typical student to complete your Gateway Quizzes in WeBWorK. The duration or time limit you set for your quiz is one aspect. Another, less obvious aspect of completion time is the course's "inactivity time", which refers to the web server's session timeout value. Both the quiz's time limit and the web session timeout need to be set to a value that's long enough so that your Student doesn't get kicked out of the system before they've submitted their quiz attempt.

For example, timing could become a problem if the user is in the middle of a gateway quiz which has 30 questions shown on one long page. A student might easily spend more than 30 minutes answering questions before they get to clicking the "Submit" button at the bottom of the page. The result of that would be that the Student's web session will expire before they're ready to submit their quiz, causing their answers to be lost, and them having to log in and try all over again.

What's the default Timeout value in WeBWorK?

The default timeout value in WeBWorK may be 1800 (30 minutes). You should check your course configuration to be sure. If 30 minutes does not seem like enough time, a timeout value of 3600 seconds (60 minutes) ought to be sufficient to avoid this problem. It's best for Instructors to check the timeout value and increase it if necessary.

Use Pagination to break your Quiz into more than one page

Another approach to consider is paginating your quizzes into two or three pages, so that thoughtful students won't run out of time because of a web server time limit over which they have no control.

The other Course Configuration settings located in the other tabs ("Option Modules", "Permissions", etc.) are generally best left alone.
Their default values will be best, and any changes should be left to IT staff or eLearning Support.


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Article ID: 4990
Tue 2/14/23 1:26 PM
Thu 11/23/23 11:43 AM

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