Giving online quizzes has many benefits but there are some legitimate concerns over test security. Students can easily browse the internet, share answers using messaging tools, or have a separate answer sheet in another window. Whether you are a teacher who uses high-stake tests or low-stake formative checks, assessment authenticity is important. Any assessment of a student should truly be of that student. Otherwise, what good is the data?
With so many teachers putting their assessments online, one might think that there were many providers of online test security software. Unfortunately, there really is just one company that has cornered the market for providing this service.
Respondus is basically the only company that offers online test security that scales as large as schools need and works with almost any online test environment, even working with Chromebooks.
What Is Respondus?
Respondus is a company that provides 4 products to address the needs of teachers and schools when providing formal assessments.
This is an authoring tool to help you create and manage your exams and exam questions.
This is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within online courses.
This is a fairly advanced tool for test security. It works with their LockDown Browser and the student’s webcam to prevent cheating during online tests.
This tool helps students learn the course material by offering interactive review activities.
When schools purchase a subscription to Respondus, they receive all 4 tools. For this post, we are only going to focus on the tool LockDown Browser because it is the one that provides test security.
How Does A Browser Lockdown Keep Online Tests Secure?
Browser Lockdown is a software that limits a user’s access on a device during an examination. While taking an online exam, the student is unable to print, message someone, visit other websites, use the internet, or access other applications that let the student communicate with the outside world. This is all to ensure a secured online exam environment.
Respondus Lockdown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within a learning management system, like Schoology or Canvas. Students would use this browser instead of using Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge.
Once the test starts, the student is unable to print, capture or copy screen content, visit other websites, or access other applications. Keyboard shortcuts like copying and pasting are disabled, as well as the right-click menu options and function keys.
The exam is displayed full screen and cannot be minimized. This prevents the student from accessing digital resource during a test. The browser cannot be closed until the student submits the exam for grading.
Will Respondus Browser Lockdown Work With Your Computers?
Because Respondus is a browser, it will need to be installed on to the computers that students will be using to take the online exam. This limits its use if your school is a Bring Your Own Device because you will have a difficult time ensuring that students can install the Browser on their computers. This setup works much better when the district controls and manages the devices that students will be taking the test with.
Respondus Works With
- Windows: 10, 8, 7
- Mac: OS X 10.10 or higher
- iOS: 7.0+ (iPad only). Must have a compatible LMS integration. Details.
- Chromebook: (K-12 only). Details.
Using Respondus With Chromebooks
At first, it was unclear if LockDown Browser could work with Chromebooks. This is largely because the Chromebook default browser is Chrome and you can’t install usual .exe files onto Chromebooks. But apparently it works fine if K-12 schools meet the following requirements:
- Uses school-wide mobile device management for their Chromebooks
- Have an enterprise license of Canvas, Schoology, or Blackboard Learn.
LockDown Browser uses a Chrome Extension that can only be run in kiosk mode. This is not the type of tool it seems the average teacher can just load up and go. Respondus does provide detailed instructions on how to setup their Chrome extension though.
Does Respondus Work With Google Classroom/Forms?
Maybe. It depends on how much Respondus can control with just the Chrome Extension. Meaning, if the Respondus Chrome extension needs to talk with an LMS like Schoology, then no, it won’t work with Google Classroom. From what I could see on their website and support site, I am leaning towards no. If you are giving a quiz using Google Forms, then yes if the form is embedded within the LMS.
So…How Much Does Respondus Cost?
First off, there is a 2-month trial period available to test out its features. So if you are interested in something like this to address your security concerns, it is worth checking out.
Otherwise, a service like this isn’t cheap. Respondus doesn’t sell access to individual teachers and the cheapest school plan is $2595 for 1-2,000 students per year.
Here is a pricing breakdown for LMS seats (or students):
|Student FTE (Higher Ed) or LMS Seats (K-12)||Annual Fee|
|1 to 2,000||$2595|
|2,001 to 2,500||$2995|
|2,501 to 5000||$3545|
|5,001 to 10,000||$4345|
|10,001 to 15,000||$4795|
|15,001 to 20,000||$5095|
|20,001 to 25,000||$5395|
|25,001 to 30,000||$5695|
|30,000 to 35,000||$6095|
|35,001 to 40,000||$6495|
|Over 40,000||Ask for Quote|
For their latest pricing see the Respondus pricing page. (Updated July 2017)
Is Respondus Worth It?
It depends. If online test security is a concern and your school is interested, Respondus is the best you are going to find. No other service offers so many solutions for a single subscription. While the price is high for an individual teacher, it is average compared to other software solutions sold to schools.
If your school is project-based, personalized, mostly paper-and-pencil, or just not as concerned about the security of online tests, Respondus is probably overkill for your needs.
Ultimately, deciding if this is right for your students comes down to your problems. Respondus is a tool, like any other, which will solve the problem of a lack of test security. You just need to ask the question, is test security big enough of a concern that you want Respondus to address it?
Are you concerned about giving secure online tests? Have you used Respondus to secure your online exams? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.