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Designing for Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor

Instructors who explain their expectations for academic honesty help students better understand integrity and its value in course work. Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor (RLB-M) can be used to support academic integrity for exams delivered through Blackboard. Students may have questions and need help preparing to use the integrity software. Add these strategies to prepare students to use Respondus successfully.

Should I Use Academic Integrity Software?

Instructors often choose to measure mastery of course outcomes by using tests. Academic integrity software provides faculty access to monitor the student's home testing environment relatively easily. Academic integrity comes with challenges and issues that should be considered carefully before deploying tests in a course.

It is important to recognize that no testing environment is completely secure. A primary function of digital academic integrity is that it deters students by recording video and audio of the student home testing environment, while also locking down access to software and the internet. Digital academic integrity comes with challenges and access issues:

  • Inconsistent access to strong internet connections and needed technology.
  • Inconsistent access to spaces conducive to undisturbed time and private space.
  • Differences in individual and cultural perceptions of surveillance and trust.
  • Relies on an algorithm that may have built-in biases, such as differences in evaluation based on skin tone or physical abilities/movements.

Consider adopting some of the strategies and techniques outlined here and then determine if an integrity solution is also needed.

Academic Integrity Strategies and Techniques

  • Don't use the same test across semesters.
  • Use the randomize options for both questions and answers.
  • Consider questions that require deeper critical thinking, scenario-based questions or longer-form responses or questions that require students to show a depth of understanding.
  • Consider multi-step questions and word problems.
  • Create pools of questions for the test, so that every test has a different set and order of questions. Many publishers offer test pools as part of the textbook resources.
  • Consider widening your testing window. Student feel more pressure in shorter testing windows, and may be more apt to cheat. Give student more than enough time to help deter them from cheating.
  • Make the test an open-book exam. Allowing access to books and notes will help student relax. Open-book tests may reduce the pressure to cheat.

Learn more about other alternatives to closed-book exams.

What Instructions Should I Provide When Using RLB-M?

Before starting, develop a back-up plan for students who might not meet the technical requirements for using RLB-M. There are several options, such as arranging a Collaborate session, developing an alternative assessment or provide a choice of assessment. If you would like some ideas, reach out to [email protected]. You also should plan in advance the specifics of your exam.

Consider the following:

  • Will you require an ID check and/or environmental scan? The system will not evaluate the quality of the scan prior to the exam. What will you do if a student does not adequately scan their image or environment? It is recommended to allow a practice session.
  • What will students be permitted to have/do? Notes, texts, phone, calculators, etc.
  • What will you do with evidence of dishonesty? What if someone has a phone call? Goes to the bathroom? Has a child, dog, roommate interrupt? What if you hear a voice off-screen?

Adding Policies and Processes

At the start of the course, explain to students what Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor is and its purpose in the course. Additionally, outline what is and is not acceptable in the exams and your expectation of students. Survey students on their access to needed time, space, and technology. If most of your students are using Chromebooks and/or don’t have webcams, it may be a better choice to use other types of academic integrity techniques.

Sample Statement

Below is a sample statement that can be added to your syllabus and/or test instructions. Remind students about Respondus before the exam using an announcement.

"This course requires the use of Respondus LockDown Browser (and Monitor, if appropriate) for exams. LockDown Browser prevents users from accessing other websites and applications on the same device during an exam.  You may access the Respondus Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Privacy Center to learn more about how Respondus protects your data.

Monitor requires a webcam. It will record video and audio of you and the environment around you. Respondus Monitor will flag suspicious behavior and I will review the video and flags for cheating before grading the exam. The information gathered by Respondus and Blackboard may be used by the instructor and the college in any academic misconduct proceedings.

If you are using Respondus Monitor at your home or in a personal area, you agree to allow your activity and surrounding workspace area to be recorded by video and audio and then to be analyzed by the Respondus Monitor system.

Watch an overview of LockDown Browser and Monitor to learn more about how the software works.

Prepare Your Testing Space Before Taking the Exam:
  1. Ensure you're in a location where you won't be interrupted (close doors, if possible).
  2. Remove all other devices (e.g. tablets, phones, second computers).
  3. Clear your desk of all external materials not permitted — bags, books, papers, etc.
  4. Remain at your computer for the duration of the test.
  5. Avoid wearing baseball caps or hats with brims.
  6. Ensure your computer or tablet is on a firm surface (a desk or table) — not on your lap, a bed, or other surface that might move.
  7. If using a built-in webcam, avoid tilting the screen after the webcam setup is complete.
  8. Take the exam in a well-lit room and avoid backlighting, such as sitting with your back to a window.
  9. Remember you will be unable to exit the test until all questions are completed and submitted."

Add Required Technology Statement

If you will be using Respondus in your course, please add these technology requirements to your syllabus. Students will be able to quickly identify whether they have the correct technology to use the software well before the exam. Add this sample statement to your syllabus:

"Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor require specific computer software and hardware. Check your system to make sure you have access to the following:

System Requirements

  1. Operating systems: Windows: 10, 8, 7, Mac OS 10.12 to 10.15 or iOS 11.0+ (iPad only)
  2. Web camera and mic
  3. A broadband internet connection
  4. Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor doesn't work with Chromebooks, Androids or iPhones.
  5. Instructions on how to Download Respondus LockDown Browser."
  6. Student Quick Start Guide for RLB-M

* If you allow iPads, you will need to enable their use when setting up the exam options. Instructions on how to install Respondus LockDown Browser for iPad."

Provide A Practice Quiz

Students may encounter technical issues when first using Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor. The academic integrity software also may cause anxiety for some students. Before an exam, provide students with a practice quiz where they can quickly test if Respondus is working properly. The practice quiz will also relieve stress helping students concentrate on performing well on the exam.

  1. Create a 0 pt. practice quiz with one multiple-choice question in Blackboard. You can make this quiz complete/incomplete by changing the primary score.
  2. Deploy the test in a content area of your choice, preferably two weeks before the first exam.
  3. Turn Respondus LockDown Browser on and configure settings, including Monitor.

    if you would like help setting up Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor for an exam or to learn more about it, request a consult with the Center of Instruction and Technology.

  4. Add instructions for downloading LockDown Browser for students near the practice quiz, as well as where to find help. If allowing RLB-M for iPads, include the instructions for installing the iPad app.
  5. Add a link for downloading Respondus Lockdown Browser.
  6. Remind students about clearing their testing environment.
  7. Ask students to post questions or issues in your Ask a Question discussion or email you directly.
  8. Reach out to students who have not completed the practice quiz several days before the exam.

Students who complete the practice quiz have a higher completion rate for the exam.