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Timing in assigned assessments

Crowdmark allows for a high degree of flexibility in timing when assessing students remotely. With students all around the world, you may often see students in multiple time zones writing a single test, exam or assignment. Using Crowdmark you’re able to choose the best set up for your students in every assessment.

How do time zones work in Crowdmark?

Time zones in Crowdmark are recorded in UTC and displayed in the locally set time zone on your machine. If you’re building an assessment in British Columbia and you set the due time for 12PM PST, it will show to students in Ontario as 3PM EST. This applies for time zones around the world.

Time zones in Crowdmark also adjust automatically for Daylight Savings, according to your machine’s setting. For example, Saskatoon and Winnipeg are both in Central Time, however Saskatchewan does not use Daylight Savings, whereas Manitoba does. That means in the summer, Central Standard Time and Central Daylight Time show up as two distinct time zones. When time changes happen in Spring and Fall, due times adjust automatically. For example, if you are working in EST and set a future due date after the time change, it will display as EDT on the assessment

Synchronous and asynchronous assessments

When you’re building your Crowdmark assessment, there are two distinct ways to set up the timing: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous assessments are when all students write at the same time, and asynchronous assessments are when students write at different times, usually at a time of their choosing. Each of these options has a procedure for set up as well as pros and cons, which we will outline for you in the following.

Synchronous assessment

A synchronous assessment means all students are writing together. This most closely resembles an in-person testing scenario, where everyone starts and ends at the same time.

Here are the steps to set up a synchronous assessment:

  1. Click Create assessment in the course dashboard, and select either Create new or Duplicate existing.

  2. Select Assigned assessment and click Next. If you have duplicated an assessment, this step will be skipped.

  3. Set the due date to be the time your assessment will finish. This will be the time students will be handing in their work. Do not use the Timed assessment option. Click Next.

  4. Complete your assessment question setup in the Questions page. Click Save and go to dashboard.

  5. Click Schedule distribution to choose what time your assessment will be distributed. This will be the start time of the test.

Congratulations! You’ve now set a synchronous assessment, where there is one set start and end time for everyone. If you have students who require extra time, you can change due dates on an individual basis using the instructions here: Accommodation options for assigned assessments

To set up multiple synchronous assessments for students in different time zones, check out the instructions here: Managing sections or multiple versions of an assigned assessment

Pros of synchronous assessment Cons of synchronous assessment
  • High degree of control for the instructor
  • Restricted/simplified time and location planning for the student
  • Higher degree of control re: academic integrity
  • Closer replication of in-person test-taking
  • Limited flexibility for students
  • Accommodations are only for extended time (no option for a student to start earlier without creating a new assessment)
  • Students in different time zones may be at a disadvantage

Asynchronous assessment

Asynchronous assessment means students write at different times, usually at a time of their choosing. This would be closest to a typical homework or lab assignment, or a take-home test. It is the most flexible option for students who have a large degree of variation in their individual timing requirements.

In Crowdmark, you have the option to use a Timed assessment to give students flexibility of choosing when they’re going to write, while still maintaining a limited window of time where they sit down to work. An example would be a 2 hour exam, within one week. You can also use this option to set up assessments where students don’t have a particular due date, but can take the timed test at any time over the course of an academic term. To set up a Timed assessment, follow the instructions here: Creating a timed assessment

You can also set up an asynchronous assessment where a student has a window of time to work on an assessment, but is able to access it and come back to it at any time before the due date passes. This would be closest to a typical homework assignment, and can be set up as a typical assessment with a standard due date, without using the Timed assessment function.

When using asynchronous assessments, the needs of students with academic accommodations are easily met. An instructor can change due dates (for someone who needs an extra day or two), time to complete (for someone who needs extra time on their Timed assessment window) and late penalties on an individual basis using the instructions here: Accommodation options for assigned assessments

Pros of asynchronous assessment Cons of asynchronous assessment
  • High degree of flexibility for students and instructors
  • Long or short windows can be set
  • Time accommodations are easier to set
  • Timed assessments can be graded before the final due date, as students are not able to resubmit once their timer expires
  • Potential for academic integrity violations increases
  • Students may struggle with time management