What Is A LockDown Browser?

what is lockdown browser students browsing tests from home

Since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, many found themselves at home, navigating coursework on their own. With this came an increased focus on independent learning. For some students, this provided an opportunity for cheating. One solution for this was the implementation of the LockDown Browser. 

Developed by Respondus Incorporated, the LockDown Browser is software used for taking tests and exams from home. Founded in 2000, Respondus caters to administering exams and certifications on behalf of educators, schools, and universities. Their two primary products are the Respondus Monitor and the LockDown Browser. 

How Does LockDown Browser Work? 

Schools use the LockDown Browser primarily to prevent cheating by students on exams. As its name suggests, this custom browser disables a multitude of functions on the user’s system, locking it down from performing any tasks outside of the assessment. Once opened, test takers cannot access other programs such as messenger applications or alternate web browsers. 

In addition to disabling other applications, additional functions of the lockdown browser include: 

• Disabling user’s ability to minimize the test window 
• Disabling screen-capture and screen sharing capabilities 
• Disabling the copy and paste functions or other related keyword shortcuts either to or from the test window 
• Disabling student’s ability to close the assessment before completion 

The browser also operates with the Respondus Monitor, a web-based application that monitors eye movement, keystrokes, and can read user’s screens. This software also works with other popular programs like BlackBoard and Canvas for seamless integration with instructors’ preferred learning management systems. 

In addition to creating a more honest testing environment, using the LockDown Browser offers other advantages for teachers and administrators. The license includes unlimited installations for all students and faculty, without limitations and unnecessary hurdles. 

How To Beat the LockDown Browser 

Respondus openly welcomes users to figure out ways to beat the LockDown system, claiming to have resolved every issue brought to their attention. However, some netizens claim to have developed workarounds for the monitoring systems.

The most basic premise for avoiding detection is to attach the test answers to your monitor. This solution will not flag the eye-tracking software, as it will appear that the test taker is simply looking at the screen. The downside is that the answers will obscure the actual view of the screen. Depending on the test’s scope, one may simply not have enough space for all of the required answers. 

Another solution is to use keyboard shortcuts to cycle through previously opened windows. By holding down the ALT key and tapping TAB, users will be able to cycle through all open programs on their PC. Although the LockDown Browser will not allow you to permanently switch out of the browser, continuously tapping TAB will allow you to see content from other running programs. 

Unfortunately, users will not be able to navigate through these windows, so you must keep all of the necessary information on a single readable screen. In addition to this, administrative review of keystrokes and screen grabs may reveal the test takers’ actions and result in repercussions. 

Other users claim to have even more sophisticated means of avoiding detection. However, some could argue that receiving a low score is a better alternative to expulsion due to violation of ethics policies. 

Final Thoughts On The LockDown Browser

The LockDown Browser is a modern means of maintaining honesty and equity through the test-taking process. In addition to this, it provides certain administrative advantages over traditional test-taking methods. 

LockDown Browser is just one example of how a custom browser can enhance the web experience for a niche market. Other alternatives for customization include web applications or enabling JavaScript. For further information on this technology and its benefits, read more here.

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