Is there a way to time how long a PDF has been opened for?

by on October 15, 2009

Q: I am currently using a PDF format for online educational courses. The students simply download the course and fill it in and then email it to me for grading. I must now require some of my online courses to be timed. What would be the easiest approach to online course timing? Is there a way to add a timing feature to my PDFs or will this task require a whole new software program or approach?

2 Responses to “Is there a way to time how long a PDF has been opened for?”

    You could try to hack it together and have a time stamp inserted in the PDF when it gets downloaded and then you could then compare that to when the user emails you the results but that probably would not be the best way to do it.

    I would think the best way to do it would be to move to an online test where the users login with a username and password and then they take the test online and the results are stored in a database. It could be setup a little simpler by just having the answers emailed to you instead of storing them in a database if you wanted.

    This would allow there to be a start time and an end time that can be recorded and the user could be told how much time they have left with warnings as well. I wont say it is a simple thing to put in place but it is certainly not rocket science. There might even be web based software out there that already does this. You can search for “online test software” in any search engine and you will find some results. I cannot recommend any particular software though because I have never used any.

    Picked as best answer

    A lot of colleges and universities use software systems like Blackboard ( for this kind of thing, if your institution does a lot of on-line courses they might already be using it or something similar.