A lockdown browser is an automated proctoring solution to help deter and prevent cheating on online exams by automatically restricting access to websites and other browsers and disabling keyboard shortcuts and functions. A lockdown browser is a good starting point to proctor online exams, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle to prevent cheating and protect academic integrity.

How does a lockdown browser work?

Features of lockdown browsers:

  • Restricts access to other websites, browsers, and applications
  • Disables keyboard shortcuts and functions such as printing, copy and paste, and screen capture
  • Prevents students from exiting the exam until they submit it
  • Removes toolbar and menu options such as browser refresh, back, forward, and stop
  • Blocks the ability to minimize the browser display screen

What can a lockdown browser see?

Generally speaking, a lockdown browser can see if a student attempts to access another browser tab or computer application and if the student attempts to use keyboard shortcuts.

Can a lockdown browser detect cell phones?

A lockdown browser  does not detect cell phones and other secondary devices, such as a tablet. Most students have secondary devices and while their primary device may be proctored by a lockdown browser, they can easily access the internet from another device to look up test answers during a lockdown browser exam.

When does a lockdown browser flag you?

Students can be flagged during a lockdown browser exam for several reasons such as accessing other browsers and computer applications, and attempting to use keyboard shortcuts such as print, copy, and paste.

Can a lockdown browser see you or hear you?

A lockdown browser can’t see you or hear you because they do not require a webcam or microphone. If online exams aren’t monitoring video and audio, students can use study resources such as textbooks and take the exam with a friend. 

Can a lockdown browser verify student ID?

It isn’t possible to verify student ID when only using a lockdown browser. No webcam is required, so the proctoring system cannot verify that the student taking the online exam is the student getting credit.

Can a lockdown browser detect screen-sharing and multiple monitors?

Yes, most lockdown browsers can detect the attempted use of multiple monitors or screen-sharing on the primary device.

Are lockdown browsers accessible?

Lockdown browser accessibility depends on the service or application being used. It’s important to check the lockdown browser’s VPAT to see if it meets your needs and guidelines and if it also integrates with your existing LMS.


Alternative online proctoring solutions

Lockdown browsers provide a basic foundation to protect academic integrity, but there are other aspects of academic dishonesty to address, such as using a cell phone to look up answers, taking the online exam with another person in the room, or even another person taking the exam for them. 

Aside from a lockdown browser, there are three alternative proctoring solutions: 

  1. AI proctoring
  2. Live proctoring
  3. Blended proctoring

AI proctoring (automated proctoring)

AI verifies student identity and then records and monitors the student’s proctored online exam. Once the proctored exam is complete, someone reviews the session and provides a report to the instructor.

What are the pros and cons of AI proctoring?

AI proctoring is convenient because students can take their exams at any time and live proctors do not have to be present. However, AI proctoring can miss some types of academic dishonesty, reviewing the session is time-consuming, and cheating is only addressed after the online exam.

Live proctoring

A live online exam proctor watches students taking exams in real-time. The online exam session is also recorded for later review.

What are the pros and cons of live proctoring? 

Live proctoring is valuable because it provides the same benefits of proctoring an in-person exam but the proctor is also responsible for simultaneously watching several students, which can make it easier to miss academic dishonesty. Scheduling can also be difficult because students have to schedule their proctored exam ahead of time and at a time that aligns with the exam proctor’s schedule. Additionally, live proctoring can increase exam anxiety because students know they’re being watched at all times.

Blended proctoring

Blends the benefits of AI proctoring and live proctoring. AI proctoring software monitors the student’s online exam and alerts a live exam proctor if it detects potential academic dishonesty. The live proctor can then review the situation in an analysis window before intervening.

What are the pros and cons of blended proctoring?

This method of proctored testing may provide a less intimidating and non-invasive exam experience for students because they aren’t being constantly watched by a live proctor and flagged for irrelevant issues. Scheduling is also easy because students can take their proctored exam at any time, 24/7/365.


Protecting academic integrity when a lockdown browser isn’t enough

Protecting academic integrity is a complex and ongoing effort. There are initial defenses, such as lockdown browser exams, to deter and prevent cheating. However, with ever-changing technology, you need advanced proctoring features to make sure your online exams are secure.


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