Using LockDown Browser™ (Digitally-proctored online tests) for Instructors (Best Practices)

What is Respondus LockDown Browser™?

Respondus LockDown Browser™ (LDB) is a customized browser that increases the security of test delivery in Blackboard. When students use Respondus LockDown Browser™ to access an exam, they are restricted from the ability to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications without permission to do so. Once an assessment is started students are locked into it until it has been submitted for grading. For a complete list of features, visit the Respondus web site at www.respondus.com. Additionally ongoing webinars are offered by Respondus. To see when the next available sessions are, plese see this page web.respondus.com/webinars for the updated list. 

Respondus LockDown Browser™ is not intended to replace the browser used by faculty or students for accessing Blackboard. Respondus LockDown Browser™ is only intended for use by students while taking assessments that have been prepared for use with Respondus LockDown Browser™.

When students are using Respondus LockDown Browser™, it locks down computer screens, preventing them from seeing anything other than Blackboard. It also hides or forces students to close other applications before they begin the assessment. Advanced feature settings will allow instructor choice for student viewing of approved URL’s, calculators, and printing if needed.

Respondus LockDown Browser™ works much like a standard web browser, but some options have been removed or work differently. The list below highlights some of these differences (see image below).

Modified Toolbar

The condensed toolbar includes only Forward, Back, Refresh and Stop functions. Students cannot navigate to another URL using this browser.

Quiz Mode

Quizzes are shown full-screen and cannot be minimized, re-sized, or exited until submitted for grading.

Disabled Controls

All printing, keystroke combinations, screen grab, function keys, and right-click menus have been disabled.

Links

Links to other web servers do not compromise the locked testing environment.

Blocked Features & Applications

The Start button (Windows), system tray, and menu bars have been removed. The clock function has also been removed.

When to use Respondus LockDown Browser

Respondus LockDown Browser should only be used when practicing for digitally proctored high stakes exams or when additional cheating deterrents are necessary to ensure academic integrity. Remember that by adding more layers of technology, you are also adding more possibilities for technological errors.  Please be well prepared to offer support for troubleshooting such possibilities by understanding what is expected of all stakeholders and possible technology errors. Planning is the key to being prepared.

Student Motivations for Cheating

One way to assist the reduction of cheating on tests is to better understand why students cheat. Each student will project different motivations.  Instructors need to strive to reduce motivations rather than prevent the act of cheating itself. A couple of suggestions include addressing cheating head-on; provide alternate paths to subvert technology using other technology and tools and educating students. Respondus LockDown Browser is an important tool for preventing cheating on online exams, but it is not a total solution. The use of Respondus LockDown Browser does not address student motivations for cheating.  A motivated student will still likely cheat even when employing LockDown Browser.  If you would like to learn more about why students cheat, look into James Lang’s work on Cheating Lessons.

Read the linked tips for more information about how to develop online exams with a higher degree of confidence for effectively assessing student learning.

Pros and Cons for Using Digitally Proctored Online Testing

  • It is a digital barrier reducing cheating. 
  • It supports the restriction of copying and sharing exam questions.
  • It integrates with our current Learning Management System, Blackboard.
  • The software reduces access to other applications on computers inhibiting students from viewing notes, browsing the Internet, accessing email or using instant messaging.
  • The software blocks access to copy and paste, screen capture programs, and reduces access to keyboard shortcuts.  You have the choice to include print functions or a calculator.
  • It works across computers with full versions of operating systems for both Windows and MAC. There are versions for iPads with iOS, but they require specified setups.  Tablets with reduced versions of operating systems typically do not work. 
  • Test setup and restrictions occurs within the LMS (Blackboard).
  • Training resources are available from the vendor

Would you like to read more about the Pros and Cons of digitally proctored online tests? See: Online Proctoring: An Insider’s View

Tips for Efficient Use of LockDown BrowserTM

Review Documentation for Other Stakeholders

Half of the battle of using technology as a part of teaching and learning is knowing what is expected from every stakeholder involved in online testing and digitally proctored testing. Please become well informed of what is expected of students when using LockDown Browser as well as the expectations for Online Testing for Instructors and Online Testing for Students. Last, but not least, be informed of where to get assistance during every stage of preparing, implementing, and grading online tests.

Timing for Building a Test

Build and design your test early on Blackboard, including settings. This provides more time should troubleshooting need to be a part of the setup. Another method is to use a test that was previously built and settings already established.

Inform Students

Make sure students know well in advance that they must use Respondus LockDown Browser to take an online exam. This is particularly important if students are required to install Respondus LockDown Browser to their own computer. Students do not like to be surprised on tests. Create a practice exam using Respondus LockDown Browser so students are comfortable with the expectations before a high stakes exam is presented (See suggestions for “Create a Practice Test for Students” below).

Once a Blackboard Learn assessment is started with Respondus LockDown Browser, the exam will appear in a full-screen window and all other applications and links are locked down. The assessment cannot be exited without clicking the “Finish” button.

Create a Practice Test for Students

It is recommended that you create a practice exam that requires the use of Respondus LockDown Browser. It is a good practice for instructors to preview the exam using Respondus LockDown Browser, however, this may require additional setup and time to complete the exam before being able to exit the LockDownBrowser test you are previewing.

About the Respondus LockDown Browser™ Dashboard in Blackboard

  • Go to Blackboard > Enter the course > Control Panel > Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser™.
    A list of Blackboard tests that have been deployed in your course will be displayed.
  • Tests that currently require the use of Respondus LockDown Browser will have their title appended with “- Requires Respondus LockDown Browser” and show Required. Tests in the course that do not currently require students to use Respondus LockDown Browser will show Not Required.

Requiring Respondus LockDown Browser™ for an Assessment

To require the Respondus LockDown Browser™ for a test that has already been deployed in your Blackboard course:

  1. Go to Blackboard > Enter the course > Control Panel > Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser™.
  2. Click the pull-down menu to the left of the exam name, and select Settings.
  3. Select the option for Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam.

Note: Lockdown Browser will automatically generate a password which appears in the Edit Test Options for the exam in Blackboard. DO NOT uncheck, remove, or change the password under Edit Test Options or you will break the settings for the Lockdown Browser and compromise the exam. Students do not need this password to enter the exam--this password is only needed to set up the LockDown Browser. (See Additional Explanation about Passwords).

Note: You may set an OPTIONAL password for the proctor or students as a part of the Respondus LockDown Browser setup. This is a separate password from the automatically-generated password (see above note).

  1. At any time, you can turn off the LockDown Browser by selecting Settings > the option Don't require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam.

Note: If you see the word “Error” beside the name of the exam in the LockDown Browser tool, then click on Fix Settings to clear the error. Nothing more needs to be done.

  1. Click When you are done with the settings for LockDown Browser, click Save + Close button to require students to use Respondus LockDown Browser for this test.

Note: Instructors should NOT edit the name of the assessment or the proctor password once the assessment has been Enabled with the Building Block or published to Blackboard using Respondus 4.0.

Check for the "Fix It" Button Before an Exam

There are several reasons the LockDown Browser Dashboard will warn you before possible errors occur.  The warning only comes as a "Fix it" button appears on the LockDown Browser Dashboard. 

  1. Go to the Control Panel > Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser™.
  2. If you see the "Fix It" button, click the button to reduce possible errors in a online exam.

Advanced Settings

 Lock students into the browser until exam is completed

Select this option to prevent students from exiting LockDown Browser before an exam is submitted for grading. Optionally, a password can be entered to enable a proctor to close the browser during an exam. We do not recommend selecting this setting outside of a proctored environment.  When this option is NOT selected, a student is able to exit the browser if their Internet connection fails or there is an emergency. A student will be warned twice before being able to close the browser.  The student will also be prompted to enter their reason for exiting the exam early. The student’s response will be available to the instructor from the LockDown Browser Dashboard.

 Allow students to take this exam with an iPad (using the "LockDown Browser" app from iTunes)

 Allow access to specific external web domains

Normally, if an exam contains a link to an external web domain, student can view the page but all links and navigation from that page are blocked.  The setting here changes that by allowing a student to access any page or link within the specified domain. This is useful, for example, to provide access to an e-book during an exam. Multiple domains can be entered, separated by commas. Available for Windows, Mac, and iPad browsers.

 Enable Calculator on the toolbar

A standard or scientific calculator can be enabled on the LockDown Browser toolbar.

 Enable Printing from the toolbar

A print button can be enabled on the LockDown Browser toolbar, allowing the exam screen to be printed.

Audio and Video Files

If audio/video files are used in an assessment, please read these requirements and troubleshooting techniques.  

An Additional Explanation About Passwords

The “password” feature for a Blackboard assessment is the underlying technology used for the integration with Respondus LockDown Browser. To prepare a Blackboard assessment so that it requires students to use Respondus LockDown Browser, the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard Setting of “Enabled” is used to publish a secret password to Blackboard’s Edit Test Settings “password” field for the assessment. Please do not remove this secret password or the test will no longer require the use of Respondus LockDown Browser.  

If an additional password has been specified by the instructor (e.g., “iodine”) under the “Respondus LockDown Browser > test > drop down menu > Settings > Additional Settings” the student will enter it at this time. Once the password is entered correctly, the student will automatically enter the exam.

Determining if the LockDown Browser Settings are Set Correctly

To confirm that an assessment will require students to use Respondus LockDown Browser, open a standard web browser, log into Blackboard using the Student Preview, and attempt to start the assessment. You should be unable to start the assessment if everything is set correctly.

Note:  If you are not the administrator on your Drake owned computer, you may have to employ "Make Me Admin" to launch LockDown Browser on a Drake owned computer (see links below for further instructions). 

Backup Plans

Faculty may want to consider bringing a printed copy of the test or answer key in case there is a technological issue. See more information about Online Testing for Instructors.

Note: If a student closes the Respondus Lockdown Browser after submitting their exam without selecting “Ok” to continue and review the exam key, they will not be able to re-enter the key and so a hard copy could be used to review answers.

Ideas from Peer Drake Instructors for Proctoring Exams

  • Set a password and only allow the proctor to enter the password for the exam. This would restrict any students from outside the classroom to take the exam.
  • Once an exam is completed, students may raise their hand to have a proctor (faculty or Teaching Assistant) come to confirm they have closed RLB, review their note card, and collect their scratch paper. Students will then leave the exam area. 
     

**This step is cumbersome but important. In experiments with my Teaching Assistants, we found that closing the laptop does not always close the session. If LDB was left open and a student had not submit their exam, it would be possible for a student to leave the room and continue to work on their exam and full access to the answer key outside of the exam room. This is the best procedure we came up with to assure exam security.**

Details

Article ID: 70031
Created
Fri 1/11/19 10:45 AM
Modified
Wed 7/28/21 4:07 PM