LockDown Browser: Using External Links and Files

It feels strange to say that the power of LockDown Browser is that it limits what you can do. But that’s essentially what it does. During online exams students cannot print, copy, or access other applications like instant messaging, screen capture, search engines, and email.

This often raises questions about what LockDown Browser can do. If it’s locking down a computer when a student starts an assessment, can instructors include questions that have links to other websites? Can questions contain PDF files that students access during an exam? What about images and media files? Spreadsheets?

The short answer to these questions is, yes, that’s all possible with LockDown Browser. As for the long answer, well, that’s what the following paragraphs are about.

Links to External Web Pages
If an exam contains links to external websites, LockDown Browser will open the links in a new, locked window. Students are able to access the content on the new page, but are prevented from navigating onward because all links are disabled. If the page includes a search function (like with Wikipedia), that too is automatically disabled.

Attaching PDFs
Instructors can include PDF files with an online test. Simply make the PDF available via a link (i.e. http://www.xyz.com/math.pdf) and it will open in a new window during the exam.   Note that Adobe’s PDF viewer includes functions to save and print the PDF.  If you want to prevent this, create the PDF using security settings that prohibit printing and saving (most PDF creators like Adobe Acrobat allow this).

Audio & Video Files
If an exam includes audio or video files, LockDown Browser will allow students to listen or view the items, just as with a standard browser. By linking to the audio or video file from the test question, another tab will open in LockDown Browser, allowing the student to listen and/or watch.

Spreadsheets
LockDown Browser includes a tool that enables .xls/.xlsx spreadsheets to be viewed and manipulated during an exam session. Within the quiz, simply add a link to the spreadsheet in the question wording. When a student selects the link within LockDown Browser, an Excel-like spreadsheet tool will open. The spreadsheet can be pre-populated with content or it can be a blank spreadsheet created in Excel that students use to prepare their answers. For more details, see this article in our Knowledge Base.

Don’t Limit Yourself
LockDown Browser limits the bad stuff, that’s true.  But it shouldn’t limit your creativity as an instructor. Online exams can include rich content and even links to other web pages. Just follow a few simple steps and your online exams will be robust — and locked down.

To learn more about LockDown Browser, or to sign up for a two-month free pilot, please visit www.respondus.com/lockdown.