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Solutions to educational impacts of students using MFA-Duo in the classrooms

UWMadison students are currently required to use MFA-Duo. UWMadison faculty and staff were required to enroll in MFA-Duo in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 to protect their personal identities and UWMadison assets. Starting in Fall 2019, all UWMadison students are required to use MFA-Duo. Peer institutions have implemented similar products as a security layer.

What does that mean for instructional staff and faculty at UWMadison? We dont anticipate that this will cause many disruptions, and we have laid out some scenarios and possible solutions below. If you do not use technology in your classroom, nothing will change. If you do use technology this should only add 5-10 seconds of time for a student. This is intended as a guide to help you decide on your classroom policies, but you continue to have autonomy over the rules in your classroom.

Scenario Recommended Solutions
I dont allow students to use smart devices in my classroom.
  1. If you dont allow use of technology (e.g., laptops) in your classroom, MFA-Duo will not affect your classroom as students will not need to authenticate with MFA-Duo.

  2. If you allow technology, students will need a brief (5-10 second) interaction with their smartphones or tokens/fobs. You determine classroom policies regarding authenticating to MFA-Duo. Consider sharing these policies through your syllabus and/or verbally. Some suggestions for use:

    1. Ask all students to authenticate prior to class starting.

    2. Announce at the beginning of class that students should authenticate and then put their smartphones away.

    MFA-Duo is not an excuse for students to use their smartphones throughout class.

My students take online quizzes and exams during class.
  1. If the website students use to take the quiz or exam is not behind a NetID website, then they wont need to authenticate with MFA-Duo.

  2. If the website is behind a NetID website (like Canvas), then you can ask all students to authenticate to Canvas prior to class starting, or announce it before the quiz/exam begins, and then put their smartphones away before ever opening the actual quiz/exam.

My students take online quizzes and exams during class, and someone forgot their smartphone or token/fob.
  1. Students can use previously generated backup passcodes that they have printed out. More information. You can ask students to print these out and bring them to every class in your syllabus or at the beginning of the semester.

  2. Students can call the DoIT Help Desk (264-HELP), verify their identity, and receive a backup passcode that is valid for 12 hours. This may result in some lost time on their quiz/exam if the student isnt proactive.

  3. If the student has set up their security questions in advance, they may request a temporary passcode online. More information. This will also take a few extra minutes, and may result in some lost time on their quiz/exam.

My students take online quizzes and exams during class, and their computer crashed in the middle of the exam.
  1. If the student is using their own device and checked the Remember me for 12 hours, they may be able to restart their computer and re-authenticate with their NetID and password without being prompted for MFA-Duo (i.e., not need to use their smart device). If the browser settings were lost during the crash, then see #2.

  2. If the student did not click the Remember me box, is using a shared device, or their browser settings werent saved, they will have to log back in with their NetID, password, and authenticate with MFA-Duo which will require using their smartphone or token/fob briefly. We recommend a proctor assisting with this process.

I have a special testing or lab situation.

If you have a specific need, please reach out to us through our feedback form, so we can talk about options and potential solutions.

See accessibility & usability information

We work with our users to address access and usability barriers in the MFA user experience. Learn details about known access barriers and workarounds at MFA-Duo - Accessibility & Usability Information. If you encounter a barrier or need assistance, please contact the DoIT Help Desk or call (608) 264-4357.

For questions regarding how to get access to the MFA mobile app contact the DoIT Help Desk at (608) 264-4357 or email

How to get access to a Security Key or Duo Token/Fob 


Students, to obtain a token/fob, please contact the DoIT Help Desk (608) 264-4357 or email Students with disabilities can also request a token or security key at the McBurney Disability Resource Center, 702 W. Johnson St., Suite #2104, Madison WI 53715 on the 2nd floor.

Faculty, Staff, and Researchers

Employees can get access to devices for MFA at their Human Resources Office or IT department. For questions contact the DoIT Help Desk at (608) 264-4357 or email 

KeywordsMFA student duo mobile "multi-factor authentication" exam testing   Doc ID93600
OwnerMST SupportGroupIdentity and Access Management
Created2019-08-05 20:38:24Updated2022-06-13 09:27:23
SitesIdentity and Access Management
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