Does A Proctored Lab Need LockDown Browser?

Proctored examination labs intrigue us. They often drive an institution’s effort to obtain a license for LockDown Browser, and yet they are also the reason some institutions say they don’t need LockDown Browser.

If you have hands-on experience with proctored testing labs, you’re probably nodding with appreciation of this conundrum.

The purpose of proctored testing centers is to control the examination environment, of course. But all proctored labs are not created equal. And when you add the many ways a student can cheat during an online exam, you start to understand the complexity of the problem.

Proctored Lab: Fortress or Farce?
Some examination centers and proctored labs are high-security zones. They have video cameras on walls watching students during the exam. Proctors sit behind banks of computer screens monitoring thumbnails of each student’s screen. Human proctors circulate the room looking for suspicious behavior, and so on.

At the other extreme are proctored labs monitored by a single person whose primary responsibility is to check student identification at the door.

Cat-and-Mouse Game
Then there are the students who make the examination process a cat-and-mouse game. It takes only a few seconds to open a new tab in a browser, search for an answer, and then switch back to the exam to answer the question. Likewise, an entire exam can be copied and pasted to an email message and sent off in seconds.

Then there is the fact that proctors don’t often know what should be on the screen for each student, especially when students from multiple courses take exams simultaneously in the testing center. Is the web page or document a student is looking at permitted by the instructor? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

So even with live proctors wandering the room, it doesn’t require much savvy for a student to get away with cheating on an online exam. In fact, it’s precisely this type of behavior that drives institutions to look for cost-effective solutions to this problem.

Striking the Right Balance
Technology experts will tell you that security is about layers. As you increase the layers of security, you decrease the risk of undesirable behavior. But increased security comes at a cost (money and hassle), and you have to strike the right balance between the desired level of security and the cost to implement it.

That’s where LockDown Browser comes in. Within a proctored setting, LockDown Browser eliminates a student’s ability to use their computer to search for answers on the Internet, to access other applications on the computer, and even to access other areas within the online course. In short, the student is locked into the assessment until it’s submitted for grading. And if an instructor intends for students to access a particular web page or document during the examination, LockDown Browser makes sure they cannot explore beyond those pages.

By eliminating a student’s ability to cheat on the computer being used for the assessment, proctors can focus on more visible types of cheating, such as preventing students from using smartphones during exams. The result is more effective proctoring and fewer incidents of cheating overall, and it can also reduce the cost of running a proctored lab (e.g., fewer proctors required).

If your institution struggles with digital cheating in proctored testing labs, give LockDown Browser a try. Over 900 institutions have enterprise-wide licenses for LockDown Browser, and we offer a free, 2-month pilot so you can you can test it in your own environment.