Invigilating Online Exams
This is a guide for invigilating online exams at the University of Victoria, and there are three methods for invigilating online exams. However, not all online exams require invigilation (See Essential Guidelines for Online Exams for more information).
If you feel an invigilated exam is required, there are three methods available to you:
Similar to how students are invigilated as they write an exam in person, Zoom can be used to invigilate students as they write an exam remotely in real-time.
Respondus Lockdown Browser
Students download a special browser to write the exam. It prevents the user from opening other webpages or applications while they write the exam (request from LTSI)
Zoom + LockDown Browser
Zoom is used to invigilate an exam in real-time. Students also use the special LockDown browser to access the exam.
The use of artificial intelligence / surveillance proctoring tools, such as Respondus Monitor or Proctorio, is not approved for use at the University of Victoria. While technology alone may seem like a solution for academic integrity, it is best to use multiple strategies to support academic integrity, as described in the Academic Integrity Framework.
See below for information about how Zoom and LockDown Browser can be used during exam invigilation.
Respondus LockDown Browser
Respondus LockDown Browser is an internet browser (downloaded by students) that contributes to a secure exam environment by locking down the Quizzes tool in Brightspace.
When students use this browser to take the exam, it prevents learners from visiting other websites, accessing other applications, capturing screen content, and printing content displayed by the browser. LockDown Browser does not affect secondary devices such as phones or tablets.
For more information on LockDown Browser, visit their Feature information page. Please note: a similarly named product, Respondus Monitor (a surveillance tool) has not been approved for use at UVic.
Request LockDown Browser
If you feel that Lockdown Browser is required for your exam, submit a request using the TIL Request Menu (for Instructors). Submit your request at least one week prior to your exam to allow sufficient preparation time.
Once a request is received, your LTSI Faculty Support team will assist you to:
Discuss your particular needs and the advantages / disadvantages for your particular exam
- Set up the Brightspace exam with Lockdown Browser and set up a Zoom room for invigilation (if required)
- Assist you in communicating students about what is required and why this tool is being used in your course, how to use LockDown Browser and/or Zoom for your exam, and where to get help.
- Set up a practice exam for your course – this is important for allowing students to try out the technology before the exam.
- Meet accommodations requirements as outlined by CAL
- Find alternatives for students not able to use Zoom or LockDown Browser for their exams
Just as in-person exams are invigilated, Zoom can be used to invigilate an online exam.
To invigilate an exam via Zoom:
- Provide students with a Zoom room to join during the exam.
- Allocate students to breakout rooms with invigilators in each room.
- Ask students to turn on their cameras
- Ask students to sign into the Zoom session with their netlink ID and passphrase. Signing into the UVic environment serves as a reliable method of authenticating identity. If you intend to also ask students to provide ID (OneCard or other), make sure to follow privacy requirements described below.
As you would for an in-person exam, provide students with clear instructions and expectations at the start of the exam. For example:
- Keep camera on for duration of exam
- Keep yourself on mute. The invigilator may ask you to unmute at any point. (or alternatively -when the exam starts, please unmute yourself and turn down the volume on your computer)
- Set aside disallowed materials
- Maintain silence during the exam – Refrain from speaking to others in the Zoom session or in the physical environment
- Ask questions in private message
- If an absence from the computer is required or your exam is interrupted unexpectedly for any reason, please contact the instructor immediately.
- Note: if using Respondus + Zoom, students cannot send messages to you during the exam
For questions or concerns about meeting academic accommodation requirements, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and add “Accesssibility Consultation” in the subject line.
In accordance with BC privacy legislation, If you intend to invigilate an exam with Zoom, first notify students and explain the purpose (e.g. to ensure academic integrity and provide real-time support to students). Consent is not otherwise required.
- Provide sufficient notification so that students can make arrangements necessary – this may include removing any private information from behind their computer that they do not feel comfortable appearing on camera (e.g. family photos)
- Provide students with the opportunity to use a Zoom background if they prefer.
- Do not ask students to ‘scan the room’ with their computer or show their workspace as not all students are able to secure a private workspace.
- It is not recommended to record the exam unless there is a specific purpose for the recording.
- If you plan to ask students to show additional identification during the exam (oneCard or other), inform students in advance and ask them to cover everything except their name and photo.
Communicate with students
It is critical to clearly communicate with students well in advance how their exams will be invigilated in the online environment.
- In your communication, tell students how you plan to invigilate your exam (e.g. with Respondus and/or Zoom) and how these tools work.
- Be aware there can be considerable stress and anxiety around online exams. Students may easily confuse the term “proctoring” with some similar tools and technologies not approved at UVic.
- Informing your students how exams will be invigilated, what tools will be used, why these tools are being used, how students can prepare in advance, what to do if students feel they cannot use these tools, and where students can get help is essential for a successful exam experience.
- See the student info page on Respondus LockDown Browser.
Meet accommodation requirements
Academic accommodation requirements still apply in the online environment. Two common accommodates include exam time and distraction-reduced settings. Please contact Centre for Accessible Learning for information about providing accommodations in the online environment.
Time accommodations and alternative time windows for writing Brightspace exams can be set up using Special Access.
If you are invigilating your exam in Zoom, care must be taken to ensure students who require a “distraction-reduced setting” are accommodated. For example:
- Provide a private breakout room for the duration of the exam if possible.
- Mute all students or ask students to turn off the sound on their computer to aviod interruption.
- Tell students to minimize the Zoom window so that gallery view is not in view. This will not affect the students’ connection to the room.
Have an alternative ready
Although UVic’s Minimum Technology Requirements covers most of what is required by Respondus and Zoom, there may be situations where students do not have the technology required for using these tools. This includes students who only have access to Chromebooks.
University Systems is working to make this tool available in bookable computer lab spaces to provide alternatives for students. Contact email@example.com for information regarding bookable spaces.
Unless stated in your syllabus, it is not possible to require students to come to campus to write an exam or have technology beyond the minimum requirements to write your exam. Be prepared to give an alternative to students, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Provide a practice exam in advance
In order to avoid technical challenges, provide a chance to students to practice in advance. For example, hold a mock exam / practice quiz in lecture.
This is particularly important if you are asking students to use Respondus LockDown Browser. As LockDown Browser requires students to download and install a new technology, sometimes students may encounter technical challenges. Before the exam, set up a mandatory practice test to identify issues that might arise in advance of the real exam. This gives students ample time to troubleshoot issues with downloading and installing the software. Helpdesk@uvic.ca can help students encountering difficulties with setting up LockDown Browser
Have an 'interruption' plan
Inform students in advance what to do if they encounter technical difficulty, arrive too late to start the exam, have a medical issue or illness or unexpected interruption during the exam.
- At the beginning of the exam, remind students that they must inform the instructor as soon as possible about any unexpected interruption so the instructor can decide how to accommodate students who experience such disruptions.
- During the exam, be prepared to support students with challenges at the beginning of the exam and throughout.
Consider more flexible options where possible
Online courses provide an opportunity to use a range of assessment options. There are a few different ways to offer exams in an online course. Some of them are more flexible / suited to this mode of instruction than others. Here are two alternatives to a timed exam with a set start time:
- Open book exam (e.g. “The exam / materials will be made available for you on Monday. Please submit by Friday at 5 pm”).
- Timed exam – with a flexible start time (e.g. “You can write exam anytime between Monday and Friday. Once you begin, you will have 2 hours to finish“).
In the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves, keep in mind there are a variety of reasons students may have difficulty with timed-exams with a set start time: including lack of technology, bandwidth limitations, difficulty finding a safe / quiet space to participate during that set time, other responsibilities such as caregiving and working (e.g. to make up for lost wages). When at all possible, adopt flexible ways to support students to achieve the intended learning outcomes.
You might also be interested in these additional resources:
- Essential Guidelines for Online Exams
- What is Respondus LockDown Browser? (resource for UVic students)
Cramp, J., Medlin, J. F., Lake, P., & Sharp, C. (2019). Lessons learned from implementing remotely invigilated online exams. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 16(1).
Kelly, R. (2014). Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom. Faculty Focus (January 7). Retrieved on May 1, 2020 from: https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/creating-asense-of-instructor-presence-in-the-online-classroom/
Koul, R., Clariana, R., Jitgarun, K., & Songsriwittaya, A. (2008). The influence of achievement goal orientation on plagiarism. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(4), 506–512.
Lang, J. (2013). Cheating lessons: Learning from academic dishonesty. Harvard University Press.
Milone, A. S., Cortese, A. M., Balestrieri, R. L., & Pittenger, A. L. (2017). The impact of proctored online exams on the educational experience. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 9(1), 108-114.
The University of Winnipeg. Zoom Test and Exam Proctoring. https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/privacy/zoom-test-and-exam-proctoring.html.
Wichita State University. Using Zoom to Proctor. https://www.wichita.edu/services/mrc/instructional_technology/Respondus/zoomproctoring.php.