Respondus LockDown Browser: Using External Links and Files
It feels strange to say that the power of Respondus LockDown Browser is that it limits what you can do. But that’s essentially what it does. During online exams students cannot print, copy, or access other applications like instant messaging, screen capture, search engines, and email.
This often raises questions about what Respondus LockDown Browser can do. If it’s locking down a computer when a student starts an assessment, can instructors include questions that have links to other websites? Can questions contain PDF files that students access during an exam? What about images and media files? What if a media object requires a browser plug-in?
The short answer to these questions is, yes, that’s all possible with LockDown Browser. As for the long answer, well, that’s what the following paragraphs are about.
Links to External Web Pages
If an exam contains links to external websites, LockDown Browser will open the links in a new, locked window. Students are able to access the content on the new page, but are prevented from navigating onward because all links are disabled. If the page includes a search function (like with Wikipedia), that too is automatically disabled.
Instructors can include PDF files with an online test. Simply make the PDF available via a link (i.e. http://www.xyz.com/math.pdf) and it will open in a new window during the exam. Note that Adobe’s PDF viewer includes functions to save and print the PDF. If you want to prevent this, create the PDF using security settings that prohibit printing and saving (most PDF creators like Adobe Acrobat allow this).
Audio & Video Files
If an exam includes audio or video files, Respondus LockDown Browser will allow students to listen or view the items, just as with a standard browser. By using “embed” for the audio or video file in the test question, a small window will appear within the question itself, including the control buttons such as play and stop.
Objects Requiring Browser Plug-ins
If an “object” included in an online exam requires a special browser plug-in, this too can work with LockDown Browser. But the instructor will need to provide students guidance on how to prepare for the exam, and the students will need to follow several steps of instructions. The most important thing to remember is that the browser plug-in must be installed and tested before the student uses LockDown Browser — because LockDown Browser won’t allow a student to install the plug-in after it has been started.
The other important thing to remember is that the plug-in must be installed when a student is running Internet Explorer (on Windows computers) or Safari (on Macs). Once the plug-ins are installed to Internet Explorer or Safari, LockDown Browser will automatically use those plug-ins if an online exam requires it.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Respondus LockDown Browser limits the bad stuff, that’s true. But it shouldn’t limit your creativity as an instructor. Online exams can include rich content and even links to other web pages. Just follow a few simple steps and your online exams will be robust — and locked down.
To learn more about Respondus LockDown Browser, or to sign up for a two-month free pilot, please visit www.respondus.com/lockdown.