Cirrus Hidden Gems: The Heartbeat Monitor

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Ensuring Continuity in Your Online Assessment Experience

Hello and welcome to our series: Cirrus Hidden Gems! Cirrus is chock-a-block with features waiting to be discovered. That’s why we’ve created these articles – to help you unveil the full potential of our platform and explore its wealth of ‘hidden gems.’

Today, we will discuss a wonderful feature that ensures a smooth assessment experience for both invigilators and candidates: the Heartbeat Monitor. This powerful tool helps maintain a stable connection during online assessments, and we’re here to walk you through its key aspects.

What is the Heartbeat Monitor?

The Heartbeat Monitor is a feature that allows invigilators to check the connection status of candidates in the invigilation dashboard. If a candidate loses their internet connection for longer than a preconfigured amount of time (set by you), the invigilator receives a notification and can take action if necessary. At the same time, the candidate will receive a warning, and not be able to continue. This prevents them from answering questions that are not currently being saved. 

Why should I care?

There are three main benefits of the Heartbeat Monitor:

  1. Reduced stress and anxiety for your test-takers:

With the Heartbeat Monitor and its offline mode, candidates no longer need to worry about losing their work or being unable to complete their exams due to internet connection issues. This peace of mind allows them to focus more effectively on the task at hand – passing their exam with flying colours – ultimately leading to better performance and a more pleasant assessment experience.

  1. Continuity and fairness in your assessment process: 

The Heartbeat Monitor ensures that all candidates have an equal opportunity to complete their assessments, regardless of any temporary internet connection problems they may face. This fosters a fair and level playing field for all participants, as no candidate will be penalised or disadvantaged due to technical issues beyond their control.

  1. Improved invigilation and support: 

The Heartbeat Monitor provides invigilators with real-time information about the connection status of candidates, enabling them to identify and address connectivity issues quickly and efficiently. This increased oversight not only maintains the integrity of the assessment process but also ensures that candidates receive the necessary support and guidance when facing technical difficulties, contributing to a more positive and well-managed assessment environment.

Important notes:

  • You cannot work entirely offline; at some point, an internet connection is required to sync and submit the assessment.
  • Images and media files will not be available in offline mode.

How does it work?

The Heartbeat Monitor is a valuable tool in online assessments that ensures a stable connection and safeguards candidate progress. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into how the Heartbeat Monitor works, its functionalities, and its role in enhancing the overall assessment experience.

From the invigilator’s perspective

When the Heartbeat Monitor is enabled, the invigilator will be able to check test-takers’ internet connectivity in real time. When the connection is lost for longer than the predetermined (configurable) time, the invigilator receives an alert and the candidate’s status turns ‘red’. In these cases, the invigilator may choose to send the test-taker a message, pause their exam timer (when sitting the exam remotely), or move them to a different computer (when sitting the exam in a test centre). When internet connectivity is successfully restored, the status will turn ‘green’ again. 

From the candidate’s perspective

The Cirrus platform has robust measures in place to prevent test-takers losing their answers in case of internet connection issues: Answers to autoscored questions are stored in real-time, while essay question answers are stored every 5 seconds. This allows test-takers to always pick up where they left off. 

When answers cannot be uploaded to the Cirrus server because of connectivity issues, they will be placed in a queue locally, on the test-taker’s device. The test-taker’s device will then keep trying to upload this queue to the Cirrus server, until successful.  

Short connection issues (e.g. 10 seconds)

During brief connection problems, the test-taker will not even notice the issue or experience any distractions that may break their concentration. In the background, Cirrus stores the answers locally and continuously attempts to upload them to the server, until successful. This all happens without any interruption to the test-taker’s assessment experience. 

Longer connection issues

If connectivity issues persist for longer than your predetermined time – during which the test-taker’s device has been unable to store the answer queue on the Cirrus server – a message will be shown to the candidate. They are alerted that their device is unable to upload the answers, prevented from continuing and thus from spending time answering questions that may not be saved. In addition, the invigilator is alerted, allowing them to take swift action. 

Do I need it?

If you’re delivering exams in areas with reasonably steady internet connectivity, the Heartbeat Monitor may not be necessary: When connectivity drops, Cirrus will just queue your test-takers answers locally in the background and automatically upload them as soon as the connection is restored. There is no interruption to the test-taker experience in this case. The default maximum time to work offline in this way is 60 seconds. This can be amended depending on your requirements, for example if your candidates are more likely to have an unstable internet connection. 

If you deliver exams in areas where connection issues are more severe, the Heartbeat Monitor will help ensure a smooth assessment experience for both invigilators and test-takers.  Invigilators will be able to proactively monitor and solve connectivity issues, thereby creating a less stressful exam experience. 

How do I get started?

The Heartbeat Monitor is free to use but needs to be activated for your assessment platform. To enable this feature, please consult your platform administrator or contact the Cirrus Service Desk for assistance.

The Heartbeat Monitor is a valuable tool that enhances the online assessment experience for both candidates and invigilators. By ensuring a stable connection and providing offline mode, it helps create a seamless, worry-free environment for users. Activate the Heartbeat Monitor today and enjoy the benefits it offers!

Want to learn more? Check out our knowledge base.

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Picture of Vegard Sivertsen
Vegard Sivertsen
Cirrus’ founder and CEO is passionate about the potential of EdTech to transform how we teach and assess skills and knowledge.
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