Respondus is a company that creates products that allow schools to deliver online assessments to their students while ensuring the integrity of the results by wrapping the test environment in a learning management system. It’s become known as the “gold standard” for securing online exams in classrooms or supervised environments. Basically, it helps teachers and educational institutes prevent students from cheating on tests or becoming distracted with any applications other than the test itself.
This “LockDown Browser” keeps users locked into the testing environment so they can’t go and Google answers or cheat by asking another classmate via a messaging app, for example. There is some debate on whether or not it’s necessary to use Respondus and whether it’s effective or too restrictive on a user’s device, and teachers are fairly split on it. Up until now, it’s only been available in a limited capacity on Chromebooks, and only for those who have a license and the know-how to get it up and running.
Last November, Respondus made its LockDown Browser and Monitor tools available to Chromebook users with new beta features and has provided instructions for getting it set up. As a Chromebook Expert who worked in big box retail stores, I can’t count the number of times that students have returned a Chromebook stating that they couldn’t use these tools with it. So, I wanted to put together a how-to guide for getting them set up so that students and teachers alike can both benefit from Respondus if necessary.
With the increase in remote education thanks to the global pandemic and the explosive growth of Chromebooks, it’s honestly about time that these tools see a more wide and accessible rollout, despite it being quite late in the game. Teachers can enable the Chromebook version of their exam and students to install the LockDown Chrome extension using the instructions below. Instructors will need to enable the use of the Chromebook version on a per exam basis.
Instructions for Teachers
- Go to the LockDown Browser Dashboard within Canvas (Works with Blackboard Learn, D2L, Brightspace, Schoology, and Moodle as well, though Respondus Monitor is not supported for Schoology).
- Select “Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam”
- Expand “Advanced Settings” and select “Allow students to use LockDown Browser for
- Chromebook (beta)”
- Save the exam settings for LockDown Browser. Repeat these steps for each exam.
Instructions for Students
- Log into the Chromebook and start Google Chrome
- Log into Canvas and navigate to the exam that requires LockDown Browser
- Select the link for downloading and installing LockDown Browser
- From the Chrome web store, select “Add to Chrome” to install the LockDown Browser
- Note: during the beta, this extension will only work with quizzes an instructor has enabled for use with LockDown Browser for Chromebook.
Known Issues and Limitations for the beta
According to the Respondus Support Knowledgebase, there are some known limitations and issues with the Chromebook beta for LockDown Browser and Monitor which you can get an overview of below. Because the site was last updated upon the launch of the beta, some of these may have been worked out by now, and we will follow up with a video tutorial for installing and using Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor on a Chromebook in the near future.
Quiz passwords, the “Allow access to specific external web domains” option, the “Early Exit” feature, the extended keyboard functions (symbols and special characters), and the Calculator and Spreadsheets are not currently supported. Also, and this may be a big one – the “optional password field is supported, but it allows students to bypass the use of a webcam for exams using Respondus Monitor.
Additionally, there are some limitations for specific platforms. For example, while using “New quizzes” in Canvas, students may encounter a warning that the browser can’t open the page. You can ignore this and continue with no negative side effects. Similarly, Canvas and D2L, as well as some others, will get the “Google Chrome OS can’t open this page” error. This can also be ignored after closing it.
Lastly, Brightspace users will need to enable pop-ups in Chrome so that their students won’t get stuck on the “Start Quiz page. Oh, and the LockDown Browser’s Help Center is said to not work according to the knowledge base, but we’ll test that as well when we do a deeper dive on our devices! Let us know in the comments if you’re currently using Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor on your fleet of Chrome OS devices. I feel that a lot of students and teachers could benefit from this, so we wanted to cover it. It’s not extremely new, but vital all the same!