Respondus develops assessment applications for the e-Learning market that are used at thousands of educational institutions in over 50 countries. One of these applications, Respondus 4, is a powerful tool for creating and managing exams that can be printed to paper or published directly to Blackboard Learn, Brightspace, Canvas, Moodle, and IMS QTI format.

Respondus partners with dozens of higher education publishers to make their textbook question banks available from the Respondus Test Bank Network (TBN). These are the official publisher question banks, but available in a ready-to-use Respondus 4 format.

Over 1,000 educational institutions have a “campus-wide” license of Respondus 4, which enables any instructor or teacher to use the tool for creating online exams. In addition, Respondus LE (a print-only version of Respondus) can be downloaded for free from the Respondus website, which allows any instructor to access publisher test banks designed specifically for Respondus applications.

From the Publisher's standpoint

Respondus Publishing Partners are provided with a user guide that explains the process of creating a test bank in Respondus 4 format. Once a test bank is formatted to the requirements, a special tool is used by the publishing partner to create a master of the test bank file. This encrypts and compresses the test bank into a single file, and adds password protection. Finally, the test bank is uploaded to the Respondus Test Bank Network (TBN) and a unique identification code is generated, along with an optional password. This enables an instructor to request and access the test bank with their Respondus 4 application in a secure way that’s authenticated by the publisher.

From the instructor standpoint

The most common method for distributing test banks formatted for use with Respondus applications is through the Respondus Test Bank Network (TBN). This is the easiest and most secure way for an instructor to obtain a publisher test bank over the Internet. The publisher provides the instructor a 16-digit File Code and Password for the test bank. Within Respondus 4, the instructor selects the Test Bank Network option and follows the on-screen instructions to register and access the test bank, using the File Code and password. The instructor can then select items from the test bank and publish the exam to an online course in minutes.

The publisher can also distribute the test bank directly to instructors (i.e. via e-mail) in a file format compatible with Respondus applications. The instructor would save the file to their computer, browse to it in Respondus 4 and then simply open the file (and enter a password if one was applied by the publisher). The test bank is then extracted, decrypted, and restored to the projects folder in Respondus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should a publisher distribute test banks in Respondus format?

There are many different reasons, but here are a few key ones:

  • Respondus is the preferred test bank tool for tens of thousands of instructors at over 2,000 colleges and secondary schools. Simply put, instructors are more inclined to adopt a textbook if the accompanying test bank is available in a format compatible with Respondus applications.
  • Respondus allows instructors to publish exams directly to Blackboard Learn, Brightspace, Canvas, and Moodle. Respondus also supports the IMS QTI (Question and Test Interoperability) standard, so questions can be imported or exported to other QTI-compliant systems. Respondus also allows instructors to print exams or save exams in Word format.
  • Respondus lets publishers streamline the development of test banks. If test banks are created in Respondus, it becomes less important for a publisher to convert, maintain and distribute test banks in multiple formats. Respondus is the only test bank software that is truly "interoperable."
  • Respondus provides the best solution for dealing with the ever-changing formats of learning management systems. Once a test bank is in Respondus format, you don't have to worry about updating the file to match the latest LMS format. This is handled by the Respondus software itself.
  • The Respondus Test Bank Network provides publishers the most secure way to distribute test banks over the Internet. In addition, there is no physical product for the publisher to create (or warehouse, or mail, etc.) and instructors can access a test bank instantly with their Respondus software.
  • Test banks in Respondus format can include images, equations, media files, and enhanced formatting.
  • There are no licensing fees associated with distributing test banks in Respondus format. There is also no charge for publishers to use the Respondus Test Bank Network to deliver test banks to instructors.
  • Respondus Inc. provides free marketing support (website listings, newsletter articles, customer referrals) for publishers that have Respondus-formatted test banks.

What if instructors don't have Respondus 4.0? Can they still use test banks available through the Respondus 
Test Bank Network (TBN)? How does a publisher create a test bank for use with the Respondus TBN?

Yes. A free version of our software, Respondus LE, can be downloaded from Respondus.com. This is a limited-task version that provides full printing capabilities and the ability to access test banks through the Respondus Test Bank Network.

How does a publisher create a test bank for use with the Respondus TBN?

There are essentially three steps: 1) Create the test bank in Respondus 4.0 or import the test bank questions; 2) Use the Publisher Archive Wizard [an add-on module available to Respondus publishing partners] to encrypt and password-protect the test bank; and 3) e-mail the archived file to Respondus and fill out an online form to register the file with the Respondus TBN.

The document "Creating Respondus Test Banks: A Guide for Publishers" is available to all Respondus Publishing Partners. It provides step-by-step instructions for each of the above-mentioned items.

Can test bank authors create files themselves?

Absolutely. One reason Respondus 4.0 is so popular with instructors is because it is so easy to use. The ideal situation is to have test bank authors create the test banks in Respondus 4.0 itself and then provide the finished test banks to the publisher.

Which version of Respondus does a publisher (or a test bank author) use to create test banks that are compatible with Respondus applications?

While it is possible for publishers and test bank authors to use the free version of Respondus (Respondus LE) to create test banks in Respondus format, we strongly recommend that the full version of Respondus 4.0 be used. The free version of Respondus doesn't include numerous tasks (e.g., inserting images, equation editor, importing, etc.) and doesn't allow the author to see how the final materials will look when published to a learning management system. In addition, the full version of Respondus 4.0 has a "platform-neutral personality" that is specifically designed for creating publisher test banks. For instance, the platform-neutral personality prevents test bank authors from selecting question types and options that are not supported by each of the leading learning management systems.

That being said, it is possible to create simple test banks with Respondus LE that can be used with the full version of Respondus 4.0. Conversely, if a test bank is created in the full version of Respondus 4.0, the files can be accessed by users of Respondus LE. In addition, both versions of Respondus are designed to work with the Respondus Test Bank Network, which allows instructors to register and access publisher test banks from the Internet.

How secure is the Respondus Test Bank Network?

The Respondus TBN offers multiple layers of security, making it the most secure way to distribute test banks using the Internet.

  • The test bank file is encrypted before it is placed on the Respondus server.
  • A password can be applied to the test bank file itself.
  • The server that hosts the test bank is also password protected.
  • A Respondus 4.0 or Respondus LE user cannot access a test bank without the 16-digit File Code and the password information. Once this information is provided to the instructor, he/she enters it into the Respondus software. Respondus will then locate, copy and decrypt the test bank file automatically. (From a security standpoint, this means that the instructor does not use a standard browser to download the test bank. In fact, the instructor doesn't even know the URL or server location of the test bank, which makes the entire process much more secure.)
  • If a File Code or password for a test bank has slipped into the wrong hands, we can quickly replace with a new File Code and password. This change can be made within a few minutes.

When a test bank is made available through the Respondus Test Bank Network, is the test bank file itself stored on a Respondus server?

Yes. The test bank file is stored on a Respondus server. When an instructor using Respondus 4.0 or Respondus LE enters the File Code and password for the test bank, the software will make a secure connection to the Respondus Test Bank Network to determine the location of server where the test bank is actually stored.

Can test banks in Respondus format be converted to other test bank formats, or vice versa?

Yes. There are several ways to convert files to/from Respondus format. First, Respondus 4.0 lets you import or export questions in Word format (as well as text and rich text) - the Respondus User Guide explains this process. Second, Respondus 4.0 can retrieve exams or question pools that may already be available in a Blackboard Learn, Brightspace, Moodle, or IMS-QTI 1.2 compatible format.

Why shouldn't a publisher just make test banks available in LMS-specific formats (e.g., Blackboard, Brightspace, Canvas, Moodle, etc.)?

There are many reasons:

  • Each learning management system (LMS) uses a different file format for its proprietary assessment tools. It is expensive to develop and distribute test banks in each of these formats. By contrast, Respondus software supports all the leading LMSs, so the better approach is to distribute test banks in this one format.
  • The file formats for LMSs can change over time. Respondus resolves these problems by supporting all the file formats that are required.
  • Even when a learning system uses an "interoperable standard" for its assessment tools, the "implementation" of the standard differs across learning systems. Hence, if you create a test bank according to a particular standard, it may not work seamlessly with other systems that claim to support the standard.
  • Exam questions stored in most LMS formats are in a plain-text format, not encrypted. Distributing test banks in such a format is much less secure than the encrypted format used for test banks available in the Respondus Test Bank Network.
  • Respondus publishes ready-to-deliver exams to the instructor's online course. This allows the instructor to bypass the time-consuming process of creating an exam using the LMS, including building new questions, selecting questions from a pool, adding point values, establishing various quiz settings, deploying the quiz, and so forth.
  • Questions that contain images, equations, or media files are automatically transferred to the LMS when you publish an exam using Respondus 4.0. By contrast, most LMS question formats don't support inline images or they require instructors to manually upload their media files and edit the HTML links.
  • A Respondus-formatted test bank is distributed as a single file — even when the test bank contains multiple "chapter files" and/or media files. By comparison, most LMSs require instructors to upload questions for each chapter individually and to upload media files separately from the exam.

Why does Respondus provide all these services to publishers for free?

It's very simple. Our business model is geared toward selling software to educational institutions, not publishing houses. Educational institutions are more inclined to obtain a site license of the Respondus 4.0 software if publisher test banks are available for use with Respondus applications. Hence, we encourage publishers to distribute test banks through the Respondus Test Bank Network by providing the tools and technology publishers need to make it possible.

What if our publishing company is happy with its current test bank software?

We're not suggesting that you stop using your current test bank software or exclusively distribute test banks in through the Respondus Test Bank Network. But by making your test banks additionally available in Respondus format, you increase the marketability of your textbooks and decrease the expense of trying to support a variety of learning management systems and file formats.

Are publishers permitted to redistribute Respondus LE (the free version of Respondus) directly to customers?

No. Even though Respondus LE is made available for free from Respondus.com, publishers are not allowed to redistribute the software itself. Publishers can, however, provide links to the Respondus LE web page (not the download links themselves) from which instructors can download the software.

We currently make test banks available only as rich-text or Word files. If we make test banks additionally available in Respondus format, is there a way to keep the production effort to a minimum?

Yes. If test banks are created using Respondus 4.0, you can easily save the files to Word, rich-text (.rtf), or text (.txt) format. Conversely, if you already have test banks in Word or rich-text format, you can import the questions into Respondus 4.0, although you have to follow specific formatting guidelines provided in the Respondus User Guide.

What does a publishing company receive when it becomes a Respondus Publishing Partner?

Respondus Publishing Partners receive:

  • One copy of the most current version of Respondus 4.0 (additional copies may be purchased by Company at standard pricing)
  • A copy of the publication "Creating Respondus Test Banks: A Guide for Publishers"
  • The Publisher Archive Wizard (an add-on module for Respondus 4.0) that allows a publisher to encrypt, compress, and password-protect the final test bank files
  • The right to distribute test banks in a format compatible with Respondus applications using the Respondus Test Bank Network
  • Free promotion of textbooks that have test banks in Respondus format (including a listing on Respondus.com, newsletter articles, company collateral, etc.)
  • The right to use the Respondus trademarks and logos when marketing the availability of Respondus-formatted test banks (additional guidelines apply)

How do you become a Respondus Publishing Partner?

If you have not already done so, submit the contact form. A Respondus representative will contact you within a few days to discuss your interest. If you choose to become a Respondus Publishing Partner, we will send you an e-mail containing the "Respondus Publishing Partner Agreement." Once you sign and return the agreement, you will promptly receive the partnership materials.

Who do I contact at Respondus if I have additional questions?

If you have been provided the name of a contact person at Respondus, go to that person first. You can also send questions to publisher@respondus.com.