Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor FAQ

  • What is Respondus? 
    Respondus is an educational technology company based in Redmond, WA, that develops and offers LockDown Browser and Monitor as well as other applications for the education market. Read more about Respondus.

  • Are students required to use Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor for tests? 
    This is determined at the discretion of the course instructor.  Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor may be required for some or all courses/tests and may not be required for others or for any.  Students will be notified if it is required for their courses/tests and for which ones. Students who are registered with the Disability Resource Center will work with their instructors for accommodations that are consistent with their existing accommodation requirements.

  • Do students have to pay for LockDown Browser or Monitor? 
    No.  There is no cost to students or faculty to use Respondus LockDown Browser or Respondus Monitor.

  • What’s the difference between LockDown Browser and Monitor? 
    LockDown Browser is the desktop software used to connect to the Blackboard test.  This needs to be installed on the computer being used to take a test that requires LDB.  Monitor is software that records video and audio of a student when taking the test using a webcam.  This does not require a separate installation.  It functions as part of LockDown Browser.

  • Can LockDown Browser be used by itself by itself? 
    No.  LockDown Browser can only be used with Blackboard.  When LockDown Browser is launched, the program automatically connects to Blackboard.  Students should use it only when taking a test for which LockDown Browser is a requirement.  Instructors can require LockDown Browser for a test without requiring the use of Monitor.

  • Can Monitor be used by itself? 
    No.  Monitor only works with LockDown Browser.  Monitor is used only if and when an instructor requires it for a test. 

  • Can LockDown Browser be used with an online testing system that’s not Blackboard? 
    No. LockDown Browser can only be used with Blackboard. 

  • Are the videos or still photos included in a course export (or archive)? 
    No.  The videos and still images collected by Monitor are stored in the cloud and would not be downloaded as part of a course export/archive package.  Although student test attempts are included in a restored archive, links to the Monitor recordings, images, and reports are not.

  • What happens to the data after the course is over? 
    Videos will be available to the faculty member in the course in which the test was taken for five years as long as the course is available in our Blackboard system. 

  • Where are the videos stored? 
    Respondus Monitor runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS).  Videos are stored in secure AWS data center facilities. 

  • Does LockDown Browser control the user’s computer? 
    When the program is running, LockDown Browser prevents other programs and functions from running but when the program is shut down, the computer functions normally.  LockDown Browser is inactive and collects no data from the computer when not running. 

  • Is LockDown Browser spyware? 
    No.  LockDown Browser will run only when the user launches the program. When using Monitor, video and audio will be recorded using the student’s webcam and data about their interactions with the Blackboard test will be collected (as is the case now with Blackboard logs), such as start and end time, test duration, internet connection quality, and internet connection duration.  This data is used to summarize a report of the student’s test attempt for instructor review.

  • Who can see the videos recorded by Monitor? 
    The instructor can view the videos through their Blackboard course.  The Monitor report and videos are made available through a special dashboard that is built-in to the Blackboard course.  Only instructors and TA’s can view the reports and videos.  System administrators at both UAlbany and Respondus are able to view the reports and videos only if necessary for technical support purposes. 

  • What other information does Monitor collect about students and their computers? 
    Video and audio from a webcam, timestamp of exam start/end, timestamp of answers saved, total time spent, total time per question, if/when answer is changed, quality, timestamp, and duration of internet connectivity during exam session, quality of video and audio (for instructor review), and identifying applications running during an exam session. Neither grades nor log in credentials are stored in Respondus Monitor. 

  • Are videos and data collected by Monitor stored in a secure manner? 
    Yes. There has been no security breach in at least the past five years.  Data is stored in secure and private data centers that are certified at high security standards with firewall and intrusion detection capabilities functioning 24 x 7 x 365. 

  • Does Respondus protect the privacy and security of data collected during a test? 
    Yes. Data is encrypted both during active sessions and in storage using strong industry standard methods.  Respondus conforms to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and complies with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. Read more about Respondus privacy policies and practices and the
    Respondus Data Privacy Overview.

  • Does Monitor use facial recognition algorithms? 
    No.  Respondus works with top researchers in the areas of facial detection and is tuned to the types of environments used for online testing. Respondus Monitor doesn’t save biometric facial data to a database, nor does it compare facial data to an existing database of mapped faces. 

  • Can LockDown Browser be run in a virtual machine (VM) environment? 
    No.  Respondus Monitor warns and blocks students from using VM setups.   
    • Soft VM 
      Monitor does not flag/report use of “soft VM” setup (because a student could innocently be using a VM for the daily setup).  
    • Hardened VM 
      When Respondus Monitor detects a “hardened VM,” it doesn’t notify a student until a real exam is underway. It then flags the student, reports it to the instructor, and terminates the exam session.  

  • Are students allowed to use private email apps or the Messages function in Blackboard? 
    No. Once a Blackboard test is underway, the student is not able to utilize other applications on the computer, including other Blackboard tools. 

  • Can students access websites while taking a test with LockDown Browser? 
    Generally, no.  But the instructor can enable specific websites in the LockDown Browser settings, if this is necessary as part of the test.  

  • Are normal Blackboard/Tests functions such as Exceptions (for test availability and time), Auto Submit, etc. still available if accessed via Respondus? 
    Yes.  All of the Blackboard Test Options remain available and functional. 

  • Does LockDown Browser work with students who need additional time or considerations for ADA compliance and/or disability resources available to students? 
    Yes.  Instructors can still use the Blackboard Test Options to enable exceptions or other availability options for students who need accommodation. 

  • Is LockDown Browser and Monitor compatible with screen reader, text-to-speech, and speech-to-text software applications? 
    LockDown Browser meets all web content accessibility guidelines, as documented in the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). LockDown Browser also works with many assistive technologies, with details listed in the Respondus Knowledgebase

  • Does Respondus support Linux? 
    No.  Read system requirements for Respondus LockDown Browser

  • Can a student use a virtual background with their webcam? 

  • Can students submit answers using the “file upload” question type?  
    Yes.  The file upload question type in Blackboard tests can be used to attach a file from the local computer on Windows and MacOS.  This is not available on iPad.  It is not possible to upload files from a network folder.  

  • Will a students’ test grade suffer if Monitor flags their video? 
    Respondus Monitor does not determine the grade on the test nor does it determine whether or not a student cheated.  Monitor uses a combination of facial detection algorithms and data collected about video/audio quality, internet quality, and timestamp of test activity to provide a report for instructor review.  The instructor has sole authority to assign the grade based on their judgment of the recording and data about the test attempt.