Respondus lockdown browser seems ideal but ineffective

April 25, 2019 — by Alan Zu

In the wake of cheating on online tests this year, the school has decided to use a program called Lockdown Browser, which blocks all tabs besides the designated testing tab.

The problem is that the program contains many bugs, ranging from lagging and connection issues to constant crashing. These bugs outweigh the supposed the program’s benefits.

Respondus, the company that wrote Lockdown, claims that it integrates well with other school sites, such as Canvas; however, after testing it in Chinese 4 honors, students clearly saw that this wasn’t the case. The program would occasionally clash with Canvas, causing sites to freeze and the computer to ultimately become unresponsive.

Furthermore, due to several connection issues, the students in Chinese were not only unable to load certain module quiz pages but they also had difficulty with typing on the frozen page.

Because the program enables teachers to check which sites a student has been on, reloading the page caused the Chinese students’ computer to report the same Canvas link multiple times.

This issue opens the risk of wrongful accusations of cheating, as the logs would show that the student left the page, which could be construed as a search for information before quickly returning to the test page.

During Chinese class, when students were testing the program, many students’ screen turned black and remained unresponsive. After trying to reload the screen, the students finally resorted to shutting down the computer in order to force-quit the program.

So what should happen now?

At this point, online testing remains problematical. In general, teachers should stick to traditional paper tests instead of administering online exams and instead use online tests for practice and review.

Even though students might resort to more stereotypical methods of cheating, such as discreetly looking at another person’s test, the teacher can more easily monitor the students’ activity.

At this point, there are many other ways to prevent cheating on paper tests, but computer testing remains so faulty that it’s not worth doing.

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