Today, many teachers and educational institutions use Blackboard to allow students to take exams and submit essays remotely. And you may be tempted to use your computer’s copy-paste or screenshot functions for a question, but it’s certainly not a good idea, given the software used in conjunction with Blackboard.
Blackboard itself cannot detect cheating methods such as copying questions, but the proctoring services used through the Respondus Lockdown Browser, Monitor, Examity, and SafeAssign, Blackboard can detect and block suspicious activity, including the use of your computer’s copy-paste function.
Students are always going to look for ways to cheat on tests and assignments. And, now that teachers can’t be in the same room as their students, students have figured out how to cheat the remote learning system. Blackboard and its partners have found creative ways to detect and flag incidents of cheating.
When Can Blackboard Detect Copying?
Through proctoring software and the Respondus Lockdown browser, Blackboard can monitor students’ activities through video and audio recordings, IP address changes, and even mouse clicks.
Blackboard is an app that allows students to view course assignments, take exams and other assessments, and interact and collaborate with their teachers and peers, respectively.
However, through everyday use, Blackboard cannot detect whether students are cheating because they will be using a standard browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. None of the standard web browsers can be integrated as a REST API in the Blackboard Learn production license. This means that Blackboard has limited capabilities and cannot tell teachers or instructors anything about an individual student’s activities, such as copying a question.
On the other hand, when it comes to formal assessments like exams, essays, and assignments, teachers can select from a set of security levels and tailored exam rules to recreate the exam conditions that ensured academic honesty and preserved the integrity of in-person exams.
This is done using Blackboard’s app in conjunction with proctoring software accessible through a specific browser, the Respondus LockDown Browser. When used concurrently with Blackboard, this proctoring software allows you to monitor students’ activities on and around their computers.
For example, Blackboard can detect cheating during tests by recording students through the webcams and microphones on their computers. Instructors can monitor whether a student is speaking, looking off-camera, or getting someone else to write their test for them, for example. The Respondus Lockdown Browser can also detect when students have taken screenshots and can track and forbid keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting.
Over and above this, the monitoring functions that come with the Respondus Lockdown Browser will also be able to detect if a student has opened or switched to another tab or browser. This will be flagged as a suspicious activity for teachers to investigate further.
What Can Blackboard Track In Day-to-day Functioning?
On its own, at least superficially, Blackboard resembles standard project management software and merely allows teachers to create tasks, attach briefs, and use calendars to organize their classes. It facilitates an accessible, integrated learning environment.
Teachers can create frameworks for course modules. They can monitor when the tasks were undertaken and timestamps that detect how much time has been spent completing tasks.
This means that, while teachers won’t monitor precisely what a student is doing if they’re using a standard browser, they will still see how much time it takes for a student to complete a task. Therefore, if a student decides to copy and paste multiple paragraphs into their assessment and submits after a few seconds, it will look very suspicious.
What Can Blackboard Track During Exams?
When it comes time for a formal assessment, however, teachers will be able to track and monitor just about anything. And, even if a teacher doesn’t pick up on something, Blackboard’s accompanying proctoring applications can detect cheating by using various mechanisms and flagging them in snapshots of suspicious activity detected during a test provided to teachers.
Before an exam, students will have to download the Respondus Lockdown Browser to work on the teachers’ secure assessments. Students will find links to download the browser within the course, and the browser automatically launches when students open their assessments. Here are a few examples of the anti-cheating safeguards that are put into place when teachers use Blackboard and its accompanying software:
Proctoring or Exam software
Proctoring software, used in conjunction with Blackboard, will detect cheating by preventing them from doing several things.
During a proctored test or exam using the Respondus Lockdown Browser, Blackboard can detect whether you have other tabs or browsers open as well as if you are switching between them. These activities are detected and reported to teachers in real-time. Blackboard can also tell when you copy and paste.
Some of these functions, such as using keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting and taking screenshots, are entirely disabled while using proctoring software. While you’re doing an exam in the Respondus Lockdown Browser, you are locked into its interface, cannot exit the browser, open other applications, or copy-paste.
What can be tracked?
So what are the functions of the proctoring software used with Blackboard that has been able to fill in the various loopholes that students use to cheat during online assessments? Here’s a look at some of them and how they prevent certain forms of cheating:
Blackboard can access your webcam when you access assignments, submit homework, or write an exam with proctoring software. When students access the test or exam through their Respondus Lockdown Browser, the webcam is turned on and monitors all of the student’s activities. Any suspicious behavior, such as moving out of frame, inconsistent head or eye movements, or the presence of other people, will be flagged by the software so that teachers can assess the recording in detail and use their discretion to determine whether a student was cheating. Furthermore, webcams can be used to verify a student’s identity.
When Blackboard uses your webcam to record you during a proctored exam, it also uses your microphone to record sounds and voices during the test to identify whether someone is giving you answers.
The students’ use of their keyboard and mouse is also monitored, and Blackboard can tell where the mouse has been clicking on a student’s screen and the keystrokes employed to type out their answers. The Respondus Lockdown Browser also prevents students from taking screenshots or screen captures during a proctored exam.
Another common method used by students to cheat during online assessments is to get other students to take their assessments on their computers. Blackboard’s proctoring software can identify any changes to IP addresses.
Blackboard can detect the unique IP address of the student’s computer by accessing its web activities and public IP address. Each student’s identity will be linked to their specific computer and IP address. Blackboard will pick up any changes to the IP address and assume the student was cheating.
Blackboard is a very well-designed app and has completely transformed remote learning if used in conjunction with proctoring software. Teachers have never had more control over their online environment, and cheating has become far harder to get away with than ever when students were writing exams in person. You cannot copy questions, open other tabs or browsers, you can’t take screenshots or copy and paste, you can’t get other people to help you.
Above this, we encourage all teachers and students to maintain high standards of academic integrity and discourage all forms of dishonesty. You’re far better off avoiding the temptation to cheat because you will get caught if doing so during Blackboard’s proctored exams.