If you have ever written a computer-based exam, you would have come across the lockdown browser.
It doesn’t replace or modify browsers such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox— browsers already installed as software in a computer. Rather, it works as a customized interface on the browser.
Lockdown browser restricts access to other web pages and apps on the device while students take their assessment and lock them into one page till the quiz session is completed. It prevents cheating during an online exam.
So, does the lockdown browser record you?
Does Lockdown Browser Record You?
The lockdown browser alone does not record the assessment session, except the webcam is turned on.
The most popular lockdown browser is the Respondus lockdown browser. It comes with the Respondus monitor (which uses a webcam).
They both serve as a proctoring device during an online assessment. This Respondus monitor, by default, records both video and audio.
How To Know If A Lockdown Browser Is Recording You
- After you confirm the webcam’s set up and start the exam, a recording icon will appear on your screen’s top right corner once the exam begins.
- Until you are done, do not attempt to exit the exam. You cannot access other applications and web pages during the exam.
- The webcam will stop recording once the exam is submitted. Then you may exit the browser.
Features Of The Lockdown Browser
- One key feature of the lockdown browser is that the student cannot exit the page or screen that displays the questions until the assessment is completed.
- It completely prevents task switching and restricts access to other applications on the device while the assessment is ongoing.
- Upon completing the quiz, students cannot exit or minimize the assessment screen until it is submitted.
- Shortcut keys and keyboard functions that enable students to copy, paste, print are disabled during the assessment.
- The browser only permits screens on full display. Therefore keyboard functions and features that enable students to minimize screens on the device are blocked.
- It also disables screen capturing, screen mirroring, screen-sharing, and other screen monitoring applications on the device.
- The lockdown browser shuts off options on the toolbar and browser menu, allowing options relevant to the assessment—refresh, stop, forward, and back. It deactivates the right-click menu options.
These features make it evident that a lockdown browser is an efficient tool that creates a reliable environment, enabling distance learning students to take exams at any location, provided they have a device connected to the internet.
With the security the lockdown browser provides, the integrity of the learning institution is protected.
Students can easily access the assessment questions by installing the lockdown browser app, logging on to blackboard, and completing the setup independently. The instructors also can access the assessment session.
The Need For A Lockdown Browser
Due to the increased popularity of distance education and online exams, it has become pertinent for learning institutions to increase the integrity of the online assessment.
This trend has created a need for programs that are supervisory to students during an online assessment.
While some institutions opt for high-end proctoring applications, others use the lockdown browser to prevent students from cheating during their online assessments.
Online exams usually come with instructions on whether you will need the lockdown browser or not. You’d be given an update that will state if the exam requires monitoring.
How To Use The Lockdown Browser
When the instruction states that the exam will require monitoring, the go-ahead to open the application after properly installing the lockdown browser, you’d be required to ensure that the webcam monitor on your device is ready.
You could do this by clicking on the Help center located at the top of your screen. It is pertinent to check on the webcam before you commence the assessment.
Always ensure you do a test and follow the instructions of the start-up sequence before you commence the exam.
The time used for the setup does not increase or decrease the time allocated for the assessment. Therefore, the setup will take its course before the assessment begins.
How The Lockdown Monitor Works
The monitor essentially serves as a proctoring device—it prevents students from cheating, identifies students by monitoring the entire assessment session.
Behavioral changes that indicate the student is cheating (having another person present, not looking at the assessment screen, talking or listening to someone else in the room) are noted and flagged down through the recording.
Visual rating time stamp:
At the end of the assessment session, a visual rating of the student is presented.
Visual rating essentially identifies specific times during the test where the student exhibits suspicious behaviors and makes it readily accessible to the examiner through time-stamped thumbnails.
This feature allows the examiner to review the specific time, enabling the examiner to further investigate by observation if the student’s questionable behavior flagged down by the monitor is cheating. Hence, the examiner has to through the videos to determine if the students’ behavior was cheating or not.
The monitor does this with high-end technology, which detects the presence of a face. This feature is quite different from facial recognition technology—which identifies a particular face.
Facial detection is what indicates when a student’s face is on the screen or looking elsewhere. Hence, it flags the student when it doesn’t detect the face on a particular screen section. You may imagine this as having a webcam to face proportion.
How To Use The Lockdown Monitor
Therefore, you must educate students on how to take their online exams using the monitor successfully. Here are some helpful tips to successfully pass the facial detection test on the monitor:
- Do not use any headgear, which extends beyond or covers your forehead (caps, hats)
- If you must use a notebook, tablet, iPad, and ensure you place it on a firm surface—desk or table. Avoid placing such devices on your lap.
- Avoid any form of screen adjustments after commencement of the exam, especially if your webcam is built into your screen. It would be best to avoid common mistakes such as pushing back your screen—the resultant effect is that the camera will cut off the top portion of your face.
- Always ensure you are properly fitted, facing your device during your exam. It will be best to avoid lying down while taking your exam, as it could result in you moving out of the video frame. Also, it could alter the position of the webcam.
- Ensure you take the exam in a well-lit room so that the details of your face are captured during the webcam set up and throughout the exam. Taking the exam in a poorly illuminated room will result in you being flagged as missing.
- Ensure you are sitting with the light source in front of you. Having the light source behind you will have a shadow cast on your screen—which will cause you to be flagged as missing.
- Avoid taking the assessment with distractions—people, television, music—around you. These will take your concentration away from your screen, and the voices could also affect the visual rating of your assessment session. You could be flagged as someone who’s cheating.
Things An Instructor Should Note
It is pertinent that, as an instructor, you consider if the lockdown browser is a good fit for your course before using it to issue assessment tests to your students.
For a productive user experience of the lockdown monitor, you need to follow up and watch every student’s time-stamped thumbnail videos. Ensure the person who took the exam matched the name’s bearer by comparing the students’ ID to the face on the video. This task can be arduous for a large class.
Why You Should Have A Practice Test On A Lockdown Browser
Suppose you want your students to have an easy user experience and successfully navigate the lockdown browser and monitor during the assessment. In that case, they must take a practice test days before the actual assessment.
This process requires downloading and installing the necessary software, testing their computer, and ensuring they have a stable internet connection in their locale.
Any problem encountered should be forwarded to the browser support or help center and rectified before the actual assessment.
A practice test would increase the students’ familiarity with the software and greatly increase their confidence before the test, reducing any anxiety about the test.
There are situations where the lockdown browser may jam during an assessment. The student must exit the program and log in to continue when they left off, provided the allocated time for the exam does not run out.
There could be situations where the software may be experiencing some technical issues or updates.
Hence, students are always advised to have a practice test days before the assessment or show up early to start the browser before the time appointed for their exam.
Computer-based tests have gradually become a norm, especially with the number of students applying for online and distance education skyrocketing.
If you’ve ever written a computer-based exam, you would have come across the lockdown browser.
The lockdown browser alone does not record the assessment session, except the webcam is turned on.
Therefore, it is important to include a short practice test in every online quiz to ensure that students meet the requirements.
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