With the rise of the pandemic, there was a significant boom in using e-proctored exams in educational environments. It was a necessary form then, and many institutions had yet to find another viable way to provide an exam setting for their students.
But now, the incremental development of e-proctoring has resulted in the necessity of the Respondus LockDown Browser.
Now that it exists, there is a lot of debate about whether it’s an effective bit of kit designed to ensure that good results come from hard work or an invasive software with more cons than pros.
Also, one of the primary questions of concern is whether or not it records you and the stipulations around that.
But worry no further because Healthy Happy Teacher is here to inform you about the Respondus LockDown Browser and its many features. Does the lockdown browser record you during an online quiz or exam? Find out here.
What is the Respondus Lockdown Browser?
Respondus Lockdown Browser is an integrated software that prevents cheating and retains academic integrity during online (or, to be term-specific, e-proctored) exams. To be obvious, its function is to lock down the browsers during online settings so that the only browser that can be used for the duration is the one that contains the e-proctored exam.
There are many common uses of the Lockdown Browser in educational environments. Firstly, it locks down the testing environment to prevent digital cheating, protects exam questions, and many other things. It is also easy to integrate and manage, as it works seamlessly with learning management software (LMS).
It also blocks specific keyboard functions and shortcuts such as ALT+TAB, CTRL+C, CTRL+V, printing features, etc. It even limits communication platforms such as Skype, other forms of instant messaging, and Teams and removes the standard browser menu features (back, refresh, etc.).
All in all, it’s limited in its restrictions, but its goal is to remove inessential features, mainly those that could facilitate cheating.
Does Lockdown Browser Record You?
The lockdown browser typically does not record you or the entire examination. However, it does employ recording devices in certain situations, such as when the proctoring system needs to use a webcam and microphone for examination purposes.
In these situations, the software is transparent about it. If your exam has sections like this, the recording icon will be visible on the screen. In short, it depends on the nature of the exam, and no two exams are identical.
It’s also useful to note that the lockdown browser does not use a student’s webcam. It doesn’t require it. But without the video and audio proctoring, the software won’t know whether you are using physical paper notes or consulting others in the room.
In short, the lockdown browser cannot see or hear you (it doesn’t record sound) but monitors your on-screen actions. Its sole function in an exam environment is to limit and restrict access to new tabs, other desktop apps, and keyboard shortcuts that access these features in an alternative, short-hand fashion.
What About Data?
You may wonder what data lockdown browsers collect and how it is used. Well, most lockdown browsers like Respondus maintain privacy policies, and in most instances, personal information isn’t accumulated by the software.
However, there are situations where it does. One is if a user attempts to troubleshoot technical problems like internet speed or connectivity.
Another instance is when a student ends an exam before completing it, opting for an early exit. In this instance, the student must explain the premature departure, which is sent to the instructor for review.
Both of these instances are subject to the specific platform in question, and each platform will likely have different rules on data processing.
What you should consider is vetting the software and making sure that you are clear on its rules. If you aren’t comfortable with them, move on to the next best suitable platform for your institution.
How to use Lockdown Browser safely
All new software is flawed, and the Respondus Lockdown Browser is no exception. It has to be managed correctly, or you run the risk of computer breakdowns, unauthorized access, and hacker breaches. So, how do you use Lockdown Browser safely? Follow these best practices, and you won’t go wrong.
1. Keep Your Students Informed
As an instructor, you must inform your students about the online test formats and any technology used. This includes webcams and Lockdown Browser monitors. Making this a part of the online course syllabus is a worthy consideration.
2. Avoid “Force Completion”
Don’t use the “force completion” option when configuring the tests. This runs a risk of network interruption, which could cause the Lockdown Browser to throw a loading error at you and then submit the exam prematurely, automatically.
3. Preview the Software
It is beneficial to preview the exam software before using it formally. You can do this by signing in as a student – instructors have different access rights to students. Then, run it and see how it goes. It’s a way to ensure that the software works for the specific exam in question.
4. Make Sure Audio and Video Files Work
To make audio and video files work, they must be embedded in the exam question in which they are featured. This grants control buttons to the students (play, pause, stop, etc.). This differs depending on your equipment. For instance, the Macintosh edition of Lockdown Browser will use the Safari engine, which doesn’t have the same support for embedded media files.
5. Update the Necessary System Requirements
Frequently Asked Questions:
● How can I tell if Lockdown Browser is recording my exam session?
Lockdown Browser will inform you if you are being recorded via the recording icon – this will be very apparent and appear at the top right of the screen. Easy peasy!
● Can Lockdown Browser access my webcam or microphone without my permission?
No. An online proctor can see the screen of an examinee, but only after they have been granted permission. This is reassuring for the student as they will know what the invigilator has access to throughout the examination process.
● What happens to the recordings after the exam is over?
The recordings are controlled by your academic institution and processed by one of its agents. Automated processes may analyze the recordings for data. But this is only for evaluation by the institution. Plus, 48 hours after the exam, the recordings are wiped from the server. Hooray!
● Can I opt out of using Lockdown Browser?
Yes, absolutely. You can always opt out. But be prepared before you do so, as this will have a knock-on effect on the relevant course. You may need to alter how you complete your course and other ramifications specific to your institution. Ergo, if in the future you decide that opting out is the way forward, prepare beforehand and make an informed decision.
● What is the Respondus Monitor?
Respondus Monitor is entirely different from the Respondus Lockdown Browser. The Respondus Monitor uses the students webcam to record the entire test session, in addition to using software that is able to detect potential cheating behaviors.
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