Friday, August 28, 2015

Respondus LockDown Browser for Blackboard Tests

Starting Fall 2015, TLT will implement Respondus Lockdown Browser. This new software offers additional test security for Blackboard tests by forcing students to take a test in a secure browser that:
  • Forces a full screen view that cannot be minimized, resized or exited until test is submitted for grading
  • Disabled controls for printing, screen grabbing, and right-click mouse menus
  • Restricted links that open links within a test in a new secure window and prevents browsing beyond that page
  • Disable applications such as the Window Start Button, the system tray, and menu bars have been removed.
Respondus-enabled tests are recommended in a proctored environment. Currently, the Computer Testing Center (CTC-Dykes) has Respondus installed on all computers for secure testing in Blackboard. Respondus is also ideal for secure testing in classrooms where students bring their own laptops (and power cords). Instructions for students (to include in your syllabus/course) are provide later in this blog.

Note: You can use Respondus for online, off-site tests, but students could use a second computer, smartphone, or tablet to search for answers or a smartphone to take pictures of the test. So, the additional security only offers an inconvenience in unproctored environments for students who are willing to cheat.

If you are considering using Respondus for additional security in Blackboard tests, please meet with TLT first for assistance and training.

Below are videos from Respondus providing an overview and how to set up Respondus for a test:

Overview of Respondus Lockdown Browser

Setting Up Respondus for an Exam

Notes for instructors:
  • Make sure you have the exam ready and all other test options in place BEFORE enabling the Respondus feature. Adding this feature should be the last thing you do when setting up exams.
  • If you have multiple exams with the same name (i.e. Exam 1), consider remaining the exam first before setting up Respondus to ensure to are enabling this feature on the correct exam. DO NOT change the name of the exam within Blackboard once it has been set up for use with Respondus. It will cause errors.
  • When students try to close the Respondus browser window and do not submit their exam, they will have to provide a reason why they are doing this. For more information about this feature, go to this web link.
  • The Respondus LockDown Browser Building Block publishes a special password to the “password” field for the Blackboard test. This special password, which is used by LockDown Browser, shouldn’t be edited by the instructor within Blackboard (doing so will prevent LockDown Browser from working with the test).
  • If audio/video files are used in an assessment, the media player must be embedded in the question itself. This is the only way that students will have access to the control buttons, such as play, start, pause and stop. (Note that the Macintosh version of LockDown Browser, which uses the Safari engine, doesn't offer the same breadth of support for embedded media. However, embedded MP4 and QuickTime files should work fine.)

What You Need to Communicate to Students

Taking a Respondus Blackboard Test in the CTC (Dykes)

The software is already installed on all the computers in the Testing Center. All students will need to do is:

  1. Log into the computer.
  2. Click on the Respondus icon on the desktop.
  3. Log into Blackboard in this Respondus browser.
  4. Navigate to the course and test, and start the test.

Taking a Respondus Blackboard Test on Their Own Laptop

  1. Make sure laptop's power cord is plugged in before starting a test.
  2. Install the software - Log into Blackboard, click on the 'Resources' tab, and download and install Respondus.
  3. Close all open programs. (Respondus is also make students close active programs prior to running.)
  4. Start Respondus Lockdown Browser.
  5. Log into Blackboard.
  6. Navigate to the course and test, and start the test.

What to Include in Your Syllabus

If you plan on using Repsondus for Blackboard testing, please consider adding the following text to your course syllabus. Feel free to edit this text:

Using Respondus for Online Exams 
This course requires the use of Respondus for online exams. Watch this short video to get a basic understanding of Respondus and the optional webcam feature (which may be required for some exams). Then download and install Respondus by logging into Blackboard, navigating to the 'Resources' tab, and clicking the 'Download Respondus' link.
To take an online test, start Respondus and navigate to the exam within Blackboard. (You won't be able to access the exam with a standard web browser.) For additional details on using Respondus, review this Student Quick Start Guide (PDF).
Finally, when taking an online exam, follow these guidelines:
  • Ensure you're in a location where you won't be interrupted
  • Make sure your computer is plugged in and has internet connection.
  • Turn off all mobile devices, phones, etc.
  • Remain at your desk or workstation for the duration of the test
  • Respondus will prevent you from accessing other websites or applications; you will be unable to exit the test until all questions are completed and submitted.

An Additional Benefit of Respondus - Minimizes Test Sharing/Copying

Currently, you have the choice to provide students their results, correct answers, and/or feedback after an assessment. Even though it is hard to print these results, students can copy and paste the entire test into a Word doc and then share with other students.

If you have your students use Respondus, not only are they restricted from copying and pasting during the test, but they are also restricted after the test when allowing them to see their results. That is because if you require them to take the exam in Respondus, then they must also review their results in Respondus. This helps reduce the copying of tests and still allowing students to see their results.

Best Practice – Highly Suggested

Consider creating a simple, practice quiz (with complete/incomplete instead of a grade) that you require to be taken with Respondus. Doing so cuts down on 1) any last-minute downloading of the LockDown browser before the first real quiz, and 2) last minute “help” emails from students before the first real quiz.

Additional Resources and Training

For a good look at what Respondus is about, watch this LockDown Browser for Instructors video from the Respondus people, which also gives you a view of what students will see. Also, there are live 45-minute webinars available from Respondus if you want a live demo and Q&A session. Final, here is a link for a Quick Start Guide for Respondus.

As always, you can contact TLT at 913-588-7107 or if you have addtional questions or need to schedule one-on-one training.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Classroom Improvements

Touch-sensitive, widescreen monitors in TLT classrooms.
Article written by Mike Ciolek
Photos by Robert Eastman
Very few things stand still in Information Resources, and TLT-Media are really movers and shakers.  
  This past summer, we installed 16:9 aspect ratio computer monitors in most of our classrooms and auditoria.  This is the wide screen format familiar to you who have some kind of plasma or LED TV in your home. Here is the big plus, they are touch sensitive, just like a smartphone or tablet.  They can even sense multi-touch like pinch, zoom, and swipe.  And you can annotate on them using just your finger and the PowerPoint embedded annotation widget.
If you display the legacy 4:3 ratio PowerPoint or other media presentations, they will still work, but will have black bars down both sides both on the computer monitor and the new 16:9 projectors and LED classroom monitors.   Check out Microsoft’s help page to learn more about changing the ratio in PowerPoint.
New study carrels in Orr Major.

Our open learning spaces are becoming more useful and attractive with the addition of upgraded study carrels on the first floor balcony in Orr Major.  Check them out if you need a private enclave to study for that next quiz.

New document cameras.
We have also brought the visual presenter/document camera/ELMO into the digital age with the installation of ELMO’s latest tricked out version.  They can do much more than there is time to talk about in this newsletter, however if you would like familiarization with their capabilities, please contact .  These will be installed in our larger learning venues, but will also be available as a deliverable when necessary to our other classrooms.
As always, here is the “file as work-in-progress” project report.  We have 16:9 HDMI projectors on order for the few remaining classrooms that have not received them.  We are also identifying which classrooms still need their share of new 3-year-cycle computer upgrades.
Study hard, teach well, and have fun this fall semester.

Scheduled Blackboard Maintenance (8/26)

We will be performing maintenance to Blackboard this evening August 26th at 11 PM. You may experience an issue logging into Blackboard or see issues while we perform this maintenance. Please do not begin anything in Blackboard that you cannot complete before 11 PM. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Using Due Dates in Blackboard

This post will provide you with some tips for setting up date options for assignments, tests and discussion boards in Blackboard.  When you create one of these items, you have the option to add dates to the Availability and Due Dates. 

Availability controls when the item appears or disappears for students. You must check the "Make the Assignment Available" button or students will not be able to see the item. 

If you want your item to show up for students for a limited period of time you have two options.  The "Display After" option is the date and time you want the item to appear for students.  The "Display Until" is if you want the item to become unavailable for students after a period of time. You do not need to set a "Display Until" date and time unless it is material that you do not want students to have access to for review.

Due Dates let students know when they need to turn work in but they do not control the availability of the item.

Why should you set due dates in Blackboard? Setting due dates helps keep students on task and organized when submitting assignments, posting and commenting on the discussion board, and taking quizzes or exams. 

Due dates automatically populate to:
  • The student's Blackboard calendar
  • The Grade Center
  • The To Do module on the Home Page
  • Some features of the My Dashboard page for students

Due dates are helpful for instructors as well. 
  • Late assignments will be identified as late in the grade center (students can still submit the assignment)
  • Discussion board posts  will automatically show up in Needs Grading after students submit a custom number of posts
  • Tests provide the option to prohibit students from taking tests after the due date

As you can see, using due dates has some huge benefits for both instructors and students during the semester.  But, what happens to the due dates when content is copied over to the next semester?  Blackboard has a really helpful tool to edit dates.  The Date Management tool that allows you to edit due dates, availability dates and simple adaptive release dates all in one place for items within your course such as discussions, assignments, tests, announcements, etc. 

Resources for setting due dates:

Resources for the Date Management Tool:

If you have any questions, please contact TLT ( or 8-7107) and we would be happy to assist you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Scheduled Blackboard Maintenance (8/20)

We will be performing maintenance on Blackboard between 7 AM and 8 AM on Thursday August 20th. Blackboard may be up and down during that time. Please do not start anything you can not complete before 7 AM. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

How to Share a Voice-over PowerPoint File - HIM Version

Now that you have completed your voice-over presentation and saved it to your computer. Wait! You haven't! Here is a quick video on how to record a voice-over PowerPoint if you need a quick refresher.

Back to sharing. If you looked at your file size of your saved voice-over PowerPoint, it probably is pretty big. Adding multimedia and voice-overs to your PowerPoint presentation dramatically increases your file sizes, usually to a size too big to email. So, to make it easier for your audience to view your presentation, we will convert it to a video and host it on a video web server such as YouTube. Then, you can just send a link to the video, and your audience can easily view the presentation on about any device.

Steps to Share your Voice-over PowerPoint File

  1. First, make sure you have saved your voice-over PowerPoint as a video (if you have not figured this our, here is a how to save a PowerPoint file as a video to your computer). Note: This process can take some time to render depending on the size of your presentation.
  2. Next, you will need to have a YouTube account (same as a Google account) in order to upload your video. If you do not, click here to set up your account.
  3. Now it is time to upload your video file. Follow these instructions on how to upload a video file to YouTube.
  4. Depending on the content of your video, you may want to adjust your video privacy settings. Follow these instructions to change your video privacy settings.
  5. Finally, you will want to share the video with your audience. Follow these instructions to share your YouTube video. For the purpose of this course, you will want to copy the link to submit as your assignment.
That is it! Now you have an easy to distribute voice-over PowerPoint presentation.