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Safe Browser to Conduct Remote Online Exams
This article covers every detail about the importance, uses and advantages of Secure Browser for conducting remote online exams.

Introduction of Safe Browser

Safe Exam Browser is a browser used for online assessment safely. This software works in a way that allows the software to turn any working station into a safe and effective working station. It gives the user the controls for accessing system functions, third-party websites and applications as well as preventing unauthorized resources from being used during an exam.

The SEB (Safe Exam Browser) is software that needs to be worked on a local computer. The software will detect the Internet and connect the user to the learning management system or any e-assessment system. Some of these learning management systems provide quizzes and games with the SEBs such for example, Moodle, ILIAS, OpenOLAT.


Mostly all SEBs usually consist of two components, a kiosk application and a browser part, which run smoothly on an examination computer or tablet device. The function of the kiosk application is to lock down on the examination computer, while the browser part communicates over the internet (or a LAN) with the quiz module of a learning management system running on a server.


Now let us look at the SEBs a little closer and get to know what the function each of its parts has and how it achieves the objective of providing the user with the browser that is applicable in taking online assessments.

● The kiosk application has the purpose of locking down the computer and starting the SEB browser plus any other optional third-party applications required to run beside the software. The system is made in a sense of controlling various miscellaneous OS functions, it is made to be system-specific to help the user and software work smoothly.


● The SEB browser loads and displays the LMS exam page using a preset URL and doesn’t show any navigation elements like address bar, search engine field etc. The Windows version of SEB currently uses the Mozilla Gecko browser engine, either in the form of Firefox or XULRunner. SEB for macOS and iOS use the WebKit browser engine.


● The learning management systems contain so-called quiz modules, which are used for online exams. SEB relies on extensions/skins to the quiz modules in Moodle and ILIAS for secure exams. With these extensions, the user interface of the LMS is reduced to just containing navigation for the exam (no links to other pages outside the quiz) and no other undesirable features like messaging. An exam can also be configured to run only with SEB, not another browser. These SEB LMS extensions, which originally had to be installed separately to achieve this connectivity with SEB, have been integrated into the LMS in recent versions of ILIAS and Moodle.

Importance of Safe Browser

Safe Exam Browsers are the most common and prevalent method of conducting examinations in the world right now, keeping in mind the extraordinary circumstances that prevent schools and colleges from taking the traditional route of examination, mainly offline exams. These Safe Browsers are very accessible and cost-efficient in their ability to conduct various exams. Safe and secure ways to conduct online exams are present for any organisation looking to transform into an online learning center.


Safe Exam Browser is very important in today’s landscape as it has enabled examinations to be conducted in a fair and clean manner. Most malpractices in offline methods are irrelevant in the online sphere meaning that the result is always a hundred per cent cheating proof.

This way of evaluation always means that the data for evaluation is always correct and analysis of this data is processed at a faster speed than traditional methods. These browsers also provide plenty of time to students and examiners in the conduction of exams, leading to a better working standard in the future.

Functionality Supported

Safe Exam Browser is a customised web browser. It can be accessed through Windows 7, 8.1, 10,11 and macOS 10.7, but it is highly recommended that the user must use 10.11 or newer for better performance and iOS 9.3.5 or newer. The downloading and installation of the application must be on the device that the student is using to attempt the quiz.

The restrictions for the students in the quiz is pretty similar to the ones there are for the application. If the restrictions for the browser exceed the security on the application itself, the message “Full-screen pop-up with some JavaScript security” case pops up, in this case, the Safe Browser is working which does a highly effective way of restricting the actions of the students during the exam.


There are multiple rules and regulations about the Safe Browser application that the student and examiner should be informed about are outlined below:

●The quiz can only be attempted through the Safe Browser which oversees the action taken by the students for better supervision of the test.


● The browser window won’t have a URL or search field and back/forward navigation and reload can be disabled. Safe Exam Browser cannot be closed until the test is submitted.


● While switching to other applications is disabled by the software by default, it is possible to allow to use of specific third party applications during an exam.


● Win+Tab, Alt+Tab, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Alt+F4, Print Screen, Cmd+Tab are disabled or cannot be used to close Safe Exam Browser or to switch to other user accounts on the computer in the possibility of the student trying to manipulate the questions and answers in the attempt of cheating.


● By the way of this restriction, the possibility of taking screenshots is also disabled.


● Whenever a student enters and quits the Safe Exam Browser the clipboard of that student is wiped clean in the attempt of cheating.

● The browser context menu is disabled.


● Only specific websites/pages/resources are permissible to be accessed during an exam when the student is using a URL filter.

● The function to spell check and dictionary is disabled by the browser as a default but can be allowed in case the examiner wants to provide access to those features.


● For a better experience with the Safe Exam Browser during their exams, students should be delivered the right protocol and rules that come with the Safe Browser beforehand.

Conducting cheating free Remote Exams 

The solution to this problem lies in the Safe Exam Browser that we have been discussing so far. Packed full of features such as automated monitoring, ID verification, and computer lockdown, Safe Browser is an extension that will be very helpful for online examinations. However, due to the complexity of the technical processes and high costs that are inevitable with this solution, there are multiple ways that examiners have taken to conduct exams.


To protect the integrity and increase the security of online exams, a possible way is to add a document security solution like Eklavvya into the mix:

● The examiner has the ability to limit individuals who have authority over the questions and can also revoke access anytime. Email verification is also a viable solution for layering security measures.


● In order to make the time limit more strict for all the test takers, measures like self-destruction of the exam paper is also a method at the examiner’s hands.


● Restricted forwarding and downloading, lead to restriction of sharing of the questions and also the prevention of other malpractices during the exam.


● For discouraging screenshots during online exams the examiner must reduce the document viewing area using a screen shield and watermarked filter.


● Tracking logs that reveal the location and IP address of the user is an easy method of controlling and identifying suspicious third-party assistance that students might take help from.

Conclusion

The final verdict for the implementation of Safe Exam Browser to be used in the current sphere of education is that SEBs are a necessary requirement for any web-based examination. This is an investment that yields various benefits for the organization as well as the students. With proctoring during the exam to the fast analysis and faster declaration of result, it is a much better and smoother alternative to the offline method of examination.


As the industries all around us are leaning more towards enhancing and enriching the experience by involving technology in it, education is yet another one that is following in the footsteps of its predecessors. By moving to a tech-based education and learning system, the industry is enveloping more and more students by the minute.

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