Guest Post
LockDown Browser

Faculty Guest Post: Reflections on Using LockDown Browser within Canvas (Part 1 in a Series)

By Dr. Michael Smith, Full Time Lecturer in Information Systems

I was eager to use Canvas’s quiz feature to give tests in class because it would help me reduce the drudge work associated with testing, including preparing multiple versions of tests by scrambling question and answers, copying tests, grading multiple versions of tests, and compiling item level data for required reporting and for improving questions, tests, and teaching materials and activities.

The LDB (LockDown Browser) makes the use of Canvas to administer high stakes tests practical, because it prevents access to unauthorized resources through testers’ laptops. I use the features of the product that are suitable for a proctored environment.

This post includes some information and reflections regarding my experience introducing high stakes testing using Canvas/LDB during the 2019 spring term.

I was fortunate in my room assignment because some rooms don’t have enough electrical outlets to be suitable for giving tests on laptops. Since the rooms I teach in do, and I now know to request rooms that have plenty of outlets, I put it on the students to bring a power cord and make sure the outlet they use supplies power in case their batteries are not sufficient.

In business we say, “Never let your first presentation be to the client”— that is, take a few practice swings before you step up to bat. I wanted the Canvas/LDB test process to be like “drinking a glass of water” for my students. To help students prepare, I created two GT trivia quizzes in Canvas, set them up to be accessible only through LDB, and used a few minutes of two days in class so the students could practice with the product. I also made those quizzes available outside class time so students could practice the process as many times as they wanted before tests and sent them several messages advising them to practice. Before the first real test, almost all students had used the product several times.

Live by technology—die by technology. I bring a handful of paper copies of the test in case something goes wrong. Given enough students, it’s inevitable. That said, so far this term, I’ve given six high stakes tests and have had only a handful of problems with Canvas/LDB. The most easily preventable problems have been students not having installed the LDB software before the test (despite my appeals) and students signing in with their email addresses instead of just their GT account. If it seems like more than a few minutes will be needed to resolve the problem, I just seat the student near the front of the class and give them a paper copy.

In my next post, I’ll write about the process of migrating my old tests from Word documents to online banks of questions suitable for random ordering within a test which also includes random ordering of answers.