Keep alive for SCORM Courses in SumTotal

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James Jordan

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Jun 5, 2018, 12:47:31 PM6/5/18
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We're having a problem that is causing a lot of manual completions to be processed. We're on SumTotal 2015.2, primarily use Storyline 2 for our CBT development, and we publish to SCORM 2004 3rd Edition. Our CBT's seem to lose connection to the app server randomly. I've tracked several CBT's and came across the following conclusions:

1. About 1% of the CBT's don't even register they were launched.
2. Suspend data is sent every 10 minutes while the user is in the course.
3. After about 50-65 minutes (not sure why this varies) it drops the connection completely, but the CBT doesn't realize this since it's asynchronous.  The user will complete the CBT, close it, and it won't come off their To Do list. When they launch it again it goes to the last location that was recorded in the suspend data.
4. This happens with about 3-5% of our users for many CBT's.  Usually the longer CBT's.

So what happens? Let me go over the process to launch a CBT in our system.

The user logs in to SumTotal and clicks the Start button next to a CBT in their TO DO List. This opens a separate window with the CBT in it. They go through the CBT and if it's a long CBT, the opener window with SumTotal in it times out. This typically corresponds to #3 above.  The user completes the CBT and closes it out, but completion isn't recorded because the server connection is lost. The user isn't informed of this and confusion ensues which results in the user calling us and explaining that they took it, but didn't get credit. Sometimes they just retake it which we don't want either. With almost 200,000 users this is becoming a big problem for our support team.

Is there a way to send a keep alive message to the server and require a response?  Then, if no response, let the user know to close and reopen the CBT.

Some other information that might help.

We host our own LMS and have remote content servers at every location. We're running IE11 in compatibility mode (document mode 5) and have SQL Server 2008 R2 on the backend. We have two app servers with load balancing and one database server.

Have a great day!

James

James Jordan

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Jun 5, 2018, 12:53:02 PM6/5/18
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Just realized I posted this same question about a year ago. Still don't have an answer or workaround, but hoping something new has come around that will help.

Henry Ryng

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Jun 5, 2018, 1:09:19 PM6/5/18
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Seems like some javascript wizardry would call scorm set and get which would likely keep session alive or messagebox alert the user on lost connection. If the lessons were all published from storyline 2 the altered script file would need to be put in each lesson folder (or scorm zip) as a global fix. Do you have programmers on your elearning team?

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Philip Hutchison

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Jun 5, 2018, 1:17:59 PM6/5/18
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It may not be the SCORM connection (the API connection between the course and the LMS), it may be the AJAX system the LMS uses to get/set data from the browser to the backend.

Remember, the SCORM API is just a JavaScript object located in a parent frame. When we set data using the SCORM API, the LMS uses AJAX to push that data from a JS object to its backend system(s). If the backend systems are not responsive or not accepting the data, it would lead to the symptoms you've reported here. 

Do you see any errors in the browser's JS console? 

Does this happen with all courses, or only the courses created using Storyline?



On Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 10:09 AM Henry Ryng <henry...@gmail.com> wrote:
Seems like some javascript wizardry would call scorm set and get which would likely keep session alive or messagebox alert the user on lost connection. If the lessons were all published from storyline 2 the altered script file would need to be put in each lesson folder (or scorm zip) as a global fix. Do you have programmers on your elearning team?
On Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 9:53 AM, James Jordan <jpjor...@gmail.com> wrote:
Just realized I posted this same question about a year ago. Still don't have an answer or workaround, but hoping something new has come around that will help.

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 12:47:31 PM UTC-4, James Jordan wrote:
We're having a problem that is causing a lot of manual completions to be processed. We're on SumTotal 2015.2, primarily use Storyline 2 for our CBT development, and we publish to SCORM 2004 3rd Edition. Our CBT's seem to lose connection to the app server randomly. I've tracked several CBT's and came across the following conclusions:

1. About 1% of the CBT's don't even register they were launched.
2. Suspend data is sent every 10 minutes while the user is in the course.
3. After about 50-65 minutes (not sure why this varies) it drops the connection completely, but the CBT doesn't realize this since it's asynchronous.  The user will complete the CBT, close it, and it won't come off their To Do list. When they launch it again it goes to the last location that was recorded in the suspend data.
4. This happens with about 3-5% of our users for many CBT's.  Usually the longer CBT's.

So what happens? Let me go over the process to launch a CBT in our system.

The user logs in to SumTotal and clicks the Start button next to a CBT in their TO DO List. This opens a separate window with the CBT in it. They go through the CBT and if it's a long CBT, the opener window with SumTotal in it times out. This typically corresponds to #3 above.  The user completes the CBT and closes it out, but completion isn't recorded because the server connection is lost. The user isn't informed of this and confusion ensues which results in the user calling us and explaining that they took it, but didn't get credit. Sometimes they just retake it which we don't want either. With almost 200,000 users this is becoming a big problem for our support team.

Is there a way to send a keep alive message to the server and require a response?  Then, if no response, let the user know to close and reopen the CBT.

Some other information that might help.

We host our own LMS and have remote content servers at every location. We're running IE11 in compatibility mode (document mode 5) and have SQL Server 2008 R2 on the backend. We have two app servers with load balancing and one database server.

Have a great day!

James

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James Jordan

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Jun 5, 2018, 2:34:24 PM6/5/18
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It’s all the longer courses regardless of the tool. I think you’re right about AJAX being the problem. I’ll check for errors in the JS console.

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James Jordan

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Jun 6, 2018, 7:52:13 AM6/6/18
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No js errors, but a few HTML warnings.

Unmatched end tag.

Things like that. Nothing that should cause what I'm seeing.
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Philip Hutchison

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Jun 6, 2018, 1:06:12 PM6/6/18
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Doesn't sound like a SCORM issue, or an issue you can control on your end. I'd get in touch with SumTotal support.

The only thing that comes to mind on the SCORM end of things is an old issue with Captivate -- they had used timers when sending SCORM calls, and the way it was implemented caused the timers to queue up in a way that eventually made the course not function correctly. But I doubt Storyline uses this technique. 

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James Jordan

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Jun 6, 2018, 2:52:41 PM6/6/18
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I don’t think it’s an issue with our CBT’s. I think it’s a SumTotal issue, but until we get it fixed, going on 6 years now, I’m trying to come up with a workaround. 

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