What is Lockdown Browser Software?
While e-learning continues to win popularity in the educational sphere, there are still considerable concerns about how to ensure its efficiency and minimize cheating during testing sessions. However, thanks to due to the technological development nowadays there is a great variety of online proctoring tools helping detect and deter any kind of fraudulent behavior.
Lockdown browser is just one of them. This special software controls the examinee’s on-screen activities and disables the use of other browsers, applications, and desktop functions. In this article, we will look into what browser lockdown software is, its main features, benefits and drawbacks.
Disclaimer: The use of the term "LockDown Browser®" in this text refers to the proprietary software developed and owned by Respondus, Inc., the appropriate trademark holder. Any references made to LockDown Browser® are solely for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement, sponsorship, or affiliation with Respondus, Inc. Furthermore, this disclaimer is in no way intended to infringe upon or violate any intellectual property rights associated with the LockDown Browser® trademark held by Respondus, Inc.
What does a lockdown browser do?Lockdown browser is a type of software installed on the test-taker computer that proctors the online examination. It serves to limit the use of desktop features, web search, apps, everything that could foster academic dishonesty.
The main featuresBrowser lockdown is usually associated with:
- lock of other browsers;
- block of keyboard functions and shortcuts (ALT+TAB, CTRL+C/CTRL+V, printing, etc.);
- restricted use of communicating applications (skype, etc.);
- removal of the browser menu features (back, forward, refresh), etc.
Does the lockdown browser record you?The lockdown browser by itself doesn’t record the examination, except for the cases when the proctoring system, which includes a lock browser feature, requires the use of the webcam and microphone. In this case, during the exam, you will see a recording icon on your screen.
Does a lockdown browser use a webcam?Browser lockdown software doesn’t require a webcam. It means that if the online exam doesn’t include video and audio proctoring, the lockdown browser will not understand if you are using your paper notes, other devices, or consulting other people in the room.
Can a lockdown browser see you?As it has already been mentioned, when taking a remote exam proctored only by the lockdown browser it’s not necessary to have a webcam and a microphone. The browser can’t hear or see you. The only thing it can monitor is your on-screen actions.
Does lockdown browser record sound?Browser lockdown doesn’t record sound. It only monitors and restricts access to other browser tabs, desktop applications, and keyboard shortcuts. Sound and video recording are possible only if the online exam includes other proctoring features.
Can you use your phone on LockDown Browser?This proctoring solution can’t detect other devices such as phones, tablets, etc. Thus, many students use them to search for information on the web while their computer or laptop is monitored by the lockdown browser.
Can a browser lock verify student ID?Since lockdown browser software doesn’t necessarily require the webcam it’s impossible to verify student identity by only this means. For this particular purpose, educators have to use more advanced features with video and audio capabilities.
Can browser lockdown software detect screen-sharing and multiple monitors?The majority of browser lockdown software can prevent students from using screen-sharing and multi-monitors features. Yet, it refers only to the primary monitored device.
Problems Associated with Locked Down BrowsersBrowser lockdown is one of the most conventional yet not the most efficient ways to ensure online exam integrity and security. This proctoring solution comes with a great number of challenges and problems. Here are only some of them:
- Invasiveness. Many specialists have concluded that lockdown browsers significantly increase security threats. Once installed on the examinee computer, this software takes full control of the device and makes it more vulnerable to hacker attacks and malfunctioning.
- Poor security. Browser lockdown software can’t boast of robust security. It significantly increases the risks of private data breaches.
- System overloading. Educational institutions using lockdown browsers usually have limited bandwidth. It means that if an exceeding number of examinees connect to the system at once they can lose the Internet connection as well as access to their test.
Is lockdown browser safe?Browser lockdown is one of the basic solutions to protect e-learning integrity. It’s not the most efficient and not the safest one if not managed correctly. It can be the reason for student computer breakdowns, hacker attacks, and data breaches.
Can students cheat with lockdown browser?Since the lockdown browser usually invigilates only the on-screen activities on the primary device, it can hardly ensure the high integrity of the online examination.
A browser lock can’t:
- conduct student authentication and verification;
- detect the use of other devices;
- understand if there are other people in the room.
Is lockdown browser worth it?Probably not, if used as a separate proctoring solution. Lockdown browsers increase examinee nervousness as there are lots of technical issues that may occur. What’s more, their key features are not sufficient to prevent cheating and ensure exam security and efficiency.
Types of online proctoring solutionsBrowser lockdown software is one of the first technologies used to monitor online student assessment. Despite being still widely popular, it has lost its primacy to modern, more feature-rich, and more effective proctoring tools. Here are the most common of them.
AI proctoring (automated proctoring)This is a top-notch fully automated proctoring technology. AI-powered software can verify examinee identity, invigilate video and audio feed through the webcam, and red-flag any dishonest activities without any human intervention. It’s a win-win solution for both educators and examinees. The first ones can cut their administrative costs while the latter ones can take exams anywhere and at any suitable time.
As for the drawbacks, AI proctoring implies that all cases are addressed only after the testing session. Moreover, the software can miss some fraudulent actions or mistakenly accuse students of cheating.
Live proctoring via Zoom/G-Meet/MS teams, etc.As it follows from its name, live proctoring implies a live proctor who monitors the authentication of the students and the examination session itself via video and audio provided by webcam and microphone. This proctoring type is very similar to the class-based exams. The only difference is that the students can take a test in a more comfortable environment.
Yet, there are some disadvantages to mention. As well as offline exams live proctored online testing requires scheduling. Moreover, since the proctor monitors several examinees concurrently he can miss some fraudulent actions.
Synchronous or Blended proctoringBlended proctoring is a combination of automated and live proctored exams. It means that the testing is monitored by the AI, however, if an examinee is caught cheating, the software immediately sends a red-flag to the live proctor. This solution comes with the benefits of both automated and live proctored exams. Moreover, if students are proctored by their professors, it greatly decreases stress.
How to use lockdown browser? Can it protect academic integrity?A lockdown browser is a basic solution to protect academic integrity. It can’t prevent student fraudulent behavior, especially if used separately. Therefore, when choosing a technology to make e-learning more effective and secure, it’s reasonable to use browser lock in combination with other proctoring solutions.
There is a big choice of modern online tools that can not only monitor on-screen activities, but also verify examinee identity, provide audio and video proctoring, record testing sessions, and much more. ProctorEdu is one of the browser solutions with an intuitive user interface that will help you protect your online reputation while providing students with comfortable, competitive, and stress-free online learning.