With the test as open-book, there is no incentive to cheat and everyone is on the same playing field. Because let’s be real, if a student wants to cheat, there is nothing that the Respondus LockDown Browser is going to do about that.
Cheating is considered an act of academic misconduct.
When accused, the student is then required to attend a meeting with the University Committee on Discipline to determine their punishment. Administrative outcomes, according to the FSU Code of Student Community Standards (2020-2021), range from a written warning to suspension and dismissal.
In the 2020-2021 world of online learning, many professors have taken the prevention of cheating very seriously with the use of the Respondus LockDown Browser.
For those who may not be aware, the LockDown Browser is used for taking tests online. It keeps the user from opening any other tabs or applications, and it uses the webcam to record and monitor for suspicious activity.
The Respondus website boasts that it is “used at over 2000 higher educational institutions, LockDown Browser is the ‘gold standard’ for securing online exams in classrooms or proctored environments.”
However, with students working from their homes, coffee shops and other areas around campus, the Respondus Lockdown Browser is not an ideal method to prevent cheating.
Many classes here at Ferris use the Respondus LockDown Browser for exams. For those that don’t require the webcam to be on, it is basically pointless. Every student has more than one technological device with internet access, what is to prevent them from using their phone to Google answers?
All the browser does is lock the computer or laptop that the test is launched on. And with no video monitoring the student, there is nothing stopping them from using their phone to search for answers, use a calculator etc.
Some professors have recognized this dilemma and attempted to solve it drastically. A student who asked to remain anonymous said that their professor not only required their camera to be on during the test, but they also had to join a Zoom call on their phone and have the camera facing their keyboard.
This may seem like an extreme and effective solution, but students will still find a way around it. The same student claimed that, even with both cameras on, they could place sticky notes around the screen of his laptop where the cameras couldn’t see.
It comes down to a simple fact: the Respondus LockDown Browser cannot prevent cheating. It is a tool that is simply too outdated for the current learning environment.
If a student wants to cheat, they’ll find a way around it. The only thing the LockDown Browser is doing is preventing honest students from having the same advantage as the ones who ignore the rules.
Online teaching is a new frontier, and professors simply cannot keep up with monitoring 20+ students taking an exam. Not only are there integrity issues with the Respondus LockDown Browser, but there have been multiple complaints that the program is not compatible with Google Chromebooks.
This is not entirely true, since Respondus offers a “beta” extension of the LockDown Browser for Chromebooks. However, according to the Respondus website, there are currently nine known issues with the extension, including the “Help Center,” early exit, calculator and spreadsheet features not working.
Unfortunately, this gives students with a different operating system a clear advantage over students with Chromebooks. Another reason why the Respondus LockDown Browser is not a fair or viable testing tool.
The best way to test a student’s knowledge is through application-based projects, not through a set of questions on the screen in a “secured online exam.” If an exam is the only way to test the student’s knowledge, then make the test open-book.