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

What is Respondus LockDown Browser™?


Respondus LockDown Browser™ (LDB) is a custom, secure web browser used when taking some quizzes and tests in Blackboard. It restricts you from printing, copying, going to another URL, or accessing other applications during a test without permission. If a Blackboard test requires that Respondus LockDown Browser™ be used, you will not be able to take the test with a standard web browser such as Chrome, Firefox or other standard browsers.

While you are using Respondus LockDown Browser™, it locks down your computer screen, preventing you from seeing anything other than Blackboard (the learning management system). It also hides or forces you to close other applications before you begin your test.

LockDown Browser Preview and highlighted tool barRespondus LockDown Browser™ works much like a standard web browser, but some options have been removed or work differently. See below for some of these differences (see image below).

  • Modified Toolbar - the 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.
  • Disabled Controls - all printing, keystroke combinations, screen grab, function keys, and right-click menus are disabled.
  • Links - links to other web servers do not compromise the locked testing environment.
  • Blocked Features & Applications - the Start button (Windows), system tray, clock, and menu bars have 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 reduce cheating is to better understand why students cheat. Every student has a different motivation for cheating, and instructors need to try to reduce motivations rather than prevent the act of cheating itself. Students working from remote locations could use two computers at once (one for taking the exam, the other for accessing other applications). Students could use digital cameras to capture the screen content, send text messages on mobile phones or wearable technology, or simply refer to notes kept on any number of media (desktop background images, wearable technology, mobile devices, invisible ink, etc.).

One suggestion for addressing cheating:

  • Use specifically designed tech tools and educate your students. Some instructors use Respondus LockDown Browser, but that doesn't address student motivations for cheating. Learn more about why students cheat, by reading James Lang’s work on Cheating Lessons.
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 > in the content area, find the test > Settings panel > Respondus: LockDown Browser™ Dashboard. Continue to the list of tests.
  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.
    1. You may set an OPTIONAL password for the proctor or students as a part of the Respondus LockDown Browser setup. If you are working directly with a human proctor, this password could be beneficial. 
  4. 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.

Check for the "Fix It" Button Before an Exam

There are several reasons the LockDown Browser Dashboard will warn you before possible errors occur or will not allow students to take a test.  The warning only comes as a "Fix it" button appears on the LockDown Browser Dashboard. 

  1. Go to Blackboard > Enter the course > in the content area, find the test > Settings panel > Respondus: LockDown Browser™ Dashboard.
  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)

  • The LockDown Browser app is not available on other tablet platforms.

 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.  

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.**

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Article ID: 70031
Fri 1/11/19 10:45 AM
Thu 12/2/21 2:00 PM