Get Started with LockDown Browser & Respondus Monitor

Respondus is a tool that is intended to minimize the opportunity for academic dishonesty on exams administered through Canvas. You can access two different types of anti-cheating technology through Respondus:

  1. LockDown Browser, a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Canvas and prevents students from accessing other information and applications on their computer. When an exam is configured with LockDown Browser, it cannot be taken in another browser. 
  2. Respondus Monitor is a program that builds on LockDown Browser, records students as they are taking the exam, and flags behavior for further review by the instructor. Respondus Monitor is typically used for take-home exams that need to replicate the setting of an in-person proctored exam, or in fully-online courses. 

LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor are both ways to prevent academic dishonesty during significant assessments. There are also other ways to cultivate academic integrity throughout a course that can be used in addition to or as an alternative to LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor.

Equity Concerns 

As programs like Respondus Monitor and others became more widely used in educational contexts during the pandemic, there was also an uptick in conversations about how monitoring software can have inequitable outcomes. Just a few of the concerns that have been raised include: 

  • Students with darker skin tones are often asked to shine more light on their faces in order for the program to identify them. Even with extensive and uncomfortable front-lighting, some students were still denied access to the exam because they couldn’t be identified or were consistently flagged for suspicious behavior during exams. 
  • Students who move in order to help themselves concentrate are often flagged for suspicious behavior. 
  • Students with medical conditions who need to get up to use a restroom or take medication are often flagged for suspicious behavior. 

While an instructor could review and dismiss inappropriate flags, limits to the technology do place disproportionate risk on some students and require faculty to do a more careful, time-intensive review. While it might not always be possible to avoid using Respondus Monitor, there are a few steps you can take to limit the potential inequities and address student concerns:

  • letting students know that you’re aware of those potential biases and will be intentionally reviewing any flags; 
  • providing students a chance to practice with Respondus Monitor before they use it for a graded assignment; 
  • being prepared to offer alternative assessment or proctoring options for students who run into consistent barriers. 

Additionally, using LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor may require some shifts for students who use assistive technologies like screen readers and voice-to-text. For the most up-to-date information on accessibility, see Accessibility with LockDown Browser.

Find Support for Using LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor 

If you’re interested in getting started with LockDown Browser or Respondus Monitor, contact canvas@bc.edu to have the application added to your relevant Canvas courses. 

Once you have access to LockDown Browser, you can review introductory materials on both programs:

You can also share resources with your students. 

Please note: As they will see in the documentation, students access their exam in LockDown Browser differently depending on whether you are using New Quizzes or Classic Quizzes in the Canvas course. 

In Classic Quizzes, students navigate to the LockDown Browser app and then are prompted to login to Canvas. In New Quizzes, students use their normal browser to navigate to the quiz in Canvas and then will be prompted to open LockDown Browser to access the quiz. If students attempt to start in the LockDown Browser app to access an exam in New Quizzes, they will receive an error message.

See the LockDown Browser resource page and the Respondus Monitor resource page for more information and guides, including video overviews. For additional on-campus assistance using either product, contact canvas@bc.edu

Before Using LockDown Browser or Respondus Monitor

Before using LockDown Browser or Respondus Monitor for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Contact canvas@bc.edu at least two weeks before the exam to make sure you have time to install the application and check that it is working properly. 
  • Run a practice quiz with your students before they complete any for-credit assignments using LockDown Browser or Respondus Monitor. This allows students to make sure they know how the program works, that their devices meet the system requirements, and that they don’t run into any other barriers when using the tool. 
  • LockDown Browser prevents students from completing file upload questions because they will not be able to access or select from their files. As an alternative, some instructors have included a second quiz that does not use LockDown Browser for students to complete and upload the final question.