Problem: After completing work within LabSim, a student logs back into LabSim and the green checkmarks and scores in the LabSim gradebook are gone, as if they were never completed.
Explanation: While LabSim runs in a student’s browser, session information and score data is regularly recorded back to the TestOut database. Ordinarily, this data and scores are exchanged between the browser and TestOut’s servers without issue; however, in rare cases, it is possible for a technical failure to cause that communication to fail.
The session and score data that has tried but failed to send to TestOut's servers is kept temporarily in the memory of the browser tab and it continues to try to send until it succeeds. The user may see their score report, green checks marks in the outline, etc. even before the data has successfully been sent. Unfortunately, in the event of such an error, if a user navigates to a new page or closes the browser tab before the score data has successfully been communicated to the servers, then that data is lost, being recorded neither in the browser's memory nor in TestOut's database. Upon logging back in, the records of work completed during the time in which this error was occurring may no longer appear and cannot be recovered.
Safeguards: There are safeguards in place that can help save score data that hasn't made it to the database. The most important safeguard occurs with our Logout function.
If a user selects Actions->Logout (before exiting the TestOut LabSim tab), LabSim will check if there is any unsent data and the user will be prompted to save their data as a .dt5 file and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be uploaded manually.
Other safeguards include the warning that changes they have may not have been saved when trying to close the browser tab, and a feature that can detect if absolutely no communication has reached the servers for over 10 minutes, at which point the user would be automatically logged out and given the 'Save my Data' option if unsent scores were detected. This should not be relied upon and users are still encouraged to always use Actions->LogOut as a fail-safe.
What to do about the scores that were already lost: If a user's work appears missing, it is confirmed they are logged into the correct account, and they have logged out already and do not have a dt5 file to send to TestOut Support, then, in most cases, the missing scores are truly lost and TestOut has no way to recover them. We realize how devastating losing the record of completed work can be, especially when school grades may be affected. In these cases, TestOut is unable to recover any proof of what work was done, when it was done, nor what scores might have been achieved. TestOut Support will not manually insert scores into our database for students unless directly requested to do so by the student’s instructor.
As far as grades are concerned, the student's instructor will have to make the decision about what should be done, whether they will take the word of the student and award credit for the lost items, ask the student to redo the items, or otherwise. Students who believe they have suffered from this type of score loss should contact their instructors and explain the situation and may refer instructors to this article to establish the fact that score loss is possible. Instructors with questions not answered herein are invited to call, chat in, or email us at email@example.com.
Tips to help reduce risk of score loss:
- Whenever users are done actively working within LabSim, always use the Logout button to safely end the session. (The Logout button is found under the 'Actions' menu when working in the course or under the 'Welcome' menu on the LabSim account home screen.) Do not just use the X. OR
- Avoid letting the computer sleep or hibernate for extended periods while working in a LabSim session.
- Try to avoid switching internet connections or otherwise disrupting network connectivity while LabSim is active in the browser.
- Avoid using VPNs or proxy servers while working in Labsim.
- Avoid using hotspot of mobile phone internet connections for working within LabSim, if possible due to their lack of stability.
- Consider using an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to the router, instead of using WiFi.
- Ensure that webservices.testout.com and cdn.testout.com are not interfered with by firewalls, security settings, or malware on the computer or network.
- Occasionally restarting your browser and/or your computer, may reduce the chance of errors developing. Leaving the LabSim tab(s) inactive in your browser for days at a time and never closing the browser, offers plenty of time for the browser, computer, or network to possibly encounter an error that may contribute to score loss.
- Avoid logging into multiple sessions of LabSim at a time. It could have unpredictable effects including increased risk of scores being overwritten or lost.
- Ensure that you are working from a supported device and browser with sufficient internet bandwidth. See: https://testout.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/234567528-What-are-the-system-requirements-for-the-TestOut-software-