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Respondus Lockdown Browser


By and in Blackboard Learn, Musings on Technology, Tools on .

Cheating in school is a form of self-deception. We go to school to learn. We cheat ourselves when we coast on the efforts and scholarship of someone else. James E. Faust

In a recent meeting, faculty members and support consultants discussed the topic of plagiarism on examinations. As the discussion progressed, a faculty member from the mathematics department shared one of his experiences. He had given a take home examination which was mailed to students. In this particular case, some of international students enrolled in his course made a pact to cheat. Once the exam had been mailed, one of the members of this student group emailed the exam to a “math whiz” friend in their home country. The friend completed all of the problems on the exam and mailed the answers back to the group. The members of the student group “completed” and submitted their exams for grading. There was a glitch however. A disgruntled student, excluded from the group, came forward to tell of the professor of the incident. All of the students identified in this cheating incident failed the examination.

Cheating is not a new phenomenon on college campuses. Researchers have reported that a majority of college students have cheated over the course of their academic careers (Jones, Blankenship, & Hollier, 2013; Vandehey, Diekhoff, & LaBeff, 2007). When we turn our focus to cheating on examinations, we know that it is easier for faculty to monitor student behavior when they are present during the examination; watch the students, and have articulated exam policies, such as no books or notes, and observe the students. However, monitoring student behavior during an online examination is more of a challenge, due to the proximity between the faculty member and students, as well as the availability of Internet and other online resources (Jones, Blankenship, & Hollier, 2013).

Some faculty have the challenge of trying to deploy an exam in a very large lecture hall. Using paper or even Scantron answer sheets limit the test to questions and answers that can only be delivered on paper. They miss the immediate grading, question pools and multimedia questions possible when digital tools such as Blackboard are used to deploy tests.

One tool that Purdue University has implemented to curb the incidence of cheating on online examinations is Respondus Lockdown Browser (RLB). Respondus Lockdown Browser prevents students from printing, performing screen captures, or accessing web based resources when they take an exam.

Some of the benefits of Respondus Lockdown Browser include:

  • Forced Completion of Assessments:
    • Students cannot accidently (or intentionally) exit the exam.
  • Leveling the playing field:
    • By preventing students from using Internet resources and applications during the exam; ensuring that all students have an equal chance to be successful on the exam.
  • Hacker Tested
    • Respondus team continually monitors/addresses security issues as they arise.

A helpful addition some have used is Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor. The benefits of adding the Monitor addition allow students to:

  • Test remotely while still being secure.
  • Use the computers web cam to record the student taking the test.
  •  View thumbnail shots of each student taking the test.


  • Instructors can require students present their student ID to confirm the person taking the test is the person enrolled in the course.
  •  Ask students to perform an environment test where they record the entire surrounding area.

Implementing Respondus Lockdown Browser





For more information regarding product use, training, and support, please visit Respondus LockDown Browser information page.


Jones, I.S., Blankenship, D., & Hollier, G. (2013). Am I cheating? An analysis of online students’ perceptions of their behaviors and attitudes. Psychology Research, 3(5), 261-269.

King, C., Guyette, R., Piotrowski, C. (2009). Online exams and cheating: An empirical analysis of business students’s views. Journal of Educators Online, 6(1).

Vandehey, M., Diekhoff, G., & LaBeff, E. (2007). College cheating: A twenty-year follow-up and the addition of an honor code. Journal of College Student Development, 48(4), 468-480.

Blackboard xpLor: Learning objects sharing tool


By and in Blackboard Learn on .

Blackboard xpLor is a cloud-based learning object repository (LOR) which allows instructors to create and share learning objects through the learning management system. The xpLor cloud provides permission-based access to objects that can be shared individually, institutionally or globally. A learning object is a resource, usually digital and web-based, that can be used and re-used to support learning. It might be a webpage, file, simulation, video, podcast, audio file, assessment, etc.

Content created and shared through xpLor utilizes Creative Commons licensing protecting the intellectual property of the content creator. Various levels of the Creative Commons license are available.

Overview of xpLor

How to use xpLor

In the course under “Build Content,” choose “xpLor Content.” First time users need to sign up for an xpLor account. Below is the xpLor dashboard.dashboard_dashboard


  • Discover: Browse or search content currently shared with your account in Blackboard
  • Create: Links to the create interface, with options to automatically open content editors for different resource types such as page, file, link, discussion, assignment, or quiz.
  • My Content: Links to the main search interface limited to only content created by the current user, with options to automatically switch to published or draft resources.
  • Course Content: Links to the main search interface limited to only xpLor content associated with you, with options beneath to switch to other courses (if applicable).
  • Channels: Links to the main channels search interface, with options to create a channel or switch to channels subscribed to or managed by current user.

How to Set Sharing Permissions
_permissionsettingAfter a learning object is created, in the Share With drop-down list on the right, select who to share the resource with.



  • Everyone: Any user within xpLor can add this resource to their courses and to channels.
  • Approved Users: Only specified users can add this resource to their courses and channels.  
  • No one: Restricts the use of the resource to only you, the author.

How to Add Copyright to Your Resource

Before publishing any learning objects, please add copyright. Note: Instructors can not change the copyright applied to a resource after it has been published.


  • Everyone: Any user within xpLor can add this resource to their courses and to channels.
  • Approved Users: Only specified users can add this resource to their courses and channels.  
  • No one: Restricts the use of the resource to only you, the author.

** Instructions on Creative Commons: Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that develops licenses and licensing structures for digital content, specifically open and freely distributable content. Descriptions of the types of licenses are available on the Creative Commons website http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

For more information about xpLor, please request a consultation at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu


Blackboard Official Help Site https://help.blackboard.com


Discussion Board, Blog, or Wiki… How do I choose?

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By in Blackboard Learn, Distance Education, Tools on .

A frequent question that comes up is what the difference is and how to decide which tool to use for activities in a course – discussion boards, blogs, wikis, or journals.  The tools are similar in some ways, allowing students to post text and other materials, but do operate in ways that make them more useful for some course activities than others. The following is a brief description of each and some examples of when to use each in a course.

Discussion Board

Discussion Boards

  • a communication tool that that allows individuals to collaborate with others through posting or answering questions
  • topic centered
  • frequently used as a supplement to in-class activities
  • Examples:

o  class discussion

o  class debate

o  peer review

 For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/boards.html



  • a web site that shares an individual’s or group’s log of events, insights or opinions; from the words web log
  • author centered
  • frequently used as a place to reflect
  • Examples:

o  course learning reflection

o  resource review

o  record of research activities

 For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/blogs.html



  • a web page that allows a group of users to create and modify pages easily and quickly; from the Hawaiian words Wiki wiki meaning quick
  • content/document centered
  • frequently used as a collaborative space
  • Examples:

o  group projects

o  group writing assignments

o  planning events and activities

For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/wikis.html


Debbie Runshe, Educational Technologist

Diagrams have been adapted and made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons License from Worsham, D. (2007, June 27). Blogs and discussion boards – What’s the difference? Wisconsin Union Blend. [Weblog post].

The Pros and Cons of Blackboard Assessments

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By in Blackboard Learn, Classroom, Tools on .

Blackboard Learn offers the ability for instructors to create and deploy assessments that can be automatically graded (or even a mix of automatically graded questions plus instructor-reviewed essay questions). However, there are some pros and cons to consider if you’re considering adding Blackboard-based assessments to your course.

Pro: Assessments can be automatically graded and points added to the Grade Center.

Most question options in Blackboard Learn (with the exception of file upload and essay questions) are able to be automatically graded with the points immediately added to the Grade Center. This allows students to receive immediate feedback on the assessment, and removes the task of having to manually enter quiz grades into the Grade Center.

Con: Assessments can be automatically graded and points added to the Grade Center.

What can be a pro can also be a con. The automatic posting of scores can remove from the instructor the ability to review the assessment results before making the scores public to the students. Yes, it is possible to hide the results from the students and keep the scores from being added to the Grade Center, but that does require some additional work on the part of an instructor to go back later and turn back on options to show the results and include the scores in the Grade Center.

Pro: Short in-class quizzes can be moved to Blackboard and taken outside of class, freeing up time that is better used for instruction.

For instructors who want to provide short quizzes to assess student knowledge on a regular basis, moving the quizzes out of your class and into Blackboard can preserve instructional time. Time and date restrictions may be added to the quiz to ensure students are not able to start their quiz before or after a specific day/time. This also allows students who may have been unable to attend class to participate in the assessment of their knowledge.

Con: Quizzes provided outside of class removes instructor control of who can take the quiz.

While it is more convenient to give quizzes outside of class, it may be difficult (if not impossible) to make changes to the quiz to prevent students who didn’t attend class from taking the quiz. For those teaching a small class, it may be possible to release the exam to everyone but those students; however that changes for those who teach large lectures. If a student makes a decision to skip class, that’s their decision – so why should they get a chance to take a quiz on Blackboard that they would have missed if the quiz was given in class? The more students there are in your class could mean that it may be more difficult to control access to the assessment.

Pro: Quizzes and tests given in Blackboard allow students to take their assessment when they are ready.

Class time may not always be the right time for some students to take their assessments. Maybe they are not fully prepared, perhaps they’ve had several other tests or quizzes that day, or maybe their work schedule prevented them from being ready to take the assessment. By placing the quiz or test in Blackboard, students have the flexibility to start the assessment when they are ready, regardless of the time of day. If the student wants to take the quiz at 3:00 am, no problem!

Con: Allowing students to start their assessment when they are ready will only give them an excuse to wait until the last minute.

While not every student is a procrastinator, there are some definite issues with students being allowed to start their exam when they are ready. Students who choose to wait until the last minute to take the exam do run some additional risks. What happens if their computer or their Internet connection experiences technical problems? What if there’s a problem with Blackboard? In these cases the students who have waited may not be able to complete the exam before the deadline, and then a choice will have to be made if they can have another attempt at the assessment.

Pro: Blackboard Learn offers several settings to help make each assessment unique, and there are tools available to help reduce the chances of academic dishonesty.

Blackboard Learn does offer settings for assessments that can help reduce dishonesty. First, question answer options can be displayed randomly via a setting that is turned on when the question is created. Second, questions can be displayed in random order through a setting on the test options. There is also the option to display one question at a time instead of all at once. Additionally, Purdue provides Respondus LockDown Browser as an alternative browser for test taking. Students can download the LockDown Browser, and instructors can force students to use the LockDown Browser for the exam instead of their preferred web browser. (LockDown Browser only allows students to take the exam; it shuts down access to instant messaging and other resources). Feedback on exams can also be restricted so students can’t print the questions and answers on their exams to share with other students.

Con: It’s great there are all these settings and tools to try to reduce dishonesty, but instructors have to use them, and there can still be cheating.

Some students are going to attempt to cheat on their online exams no matter what bumps or barrier that are put in their way. Even if an online exam is proctored, does that completely dissuade a student who intends on being dishonest from attempting to sneak in a crib sheet? It probably won’t stop someone determined to cheat on an exam. It does take some effort and planning to ensure all steps are taken to reduce the chances students will try to cheat, but it’s not foolproof. If a student is taking a test at home using the LockDown browser, what stops them from getting out their smartphone or to get access to another computer?

Pro: Using Blackboard to provide my students with their quizzes and assessments reduces the amount of copies that have to be made of the questions, and eliminates using separate answer sheets, helping to drive down costs.

Think about how many paper copies of exams are made. How much is spent on photocopying a large exam alone? How much do special scanned answer sheets cost? By using Blackboard for assessments, the amount of paper copies that are made can be reduced and potentially eliminated in some cases. This can not just save money due to the reduced number of copies made, but it can also

Con: While it’s great to be able to reduce the number of copies made in some cases, it may not be the best idea to move all assessments to Blackboard only.

While it may be worthwhile considering making a move of some quizzes and other assessments to Learn instead of providing those in class, it might be best to reserve these moves to low-risk/low-impact assessments. Unless the class is taught exclusively online, keeping high-value assessments in a monitored, controlled atmosphere (such as the classroom) allows students to seek assistance when needed, and for faculty to observe and address any issues that might arise during that time. In some subjects, using paper may actually benefit the student as the student can demonstrate their work to the instructor

These pros and cons are not the only issues surrounding online assessments. As an instructor, you should make the decision as to how best assess your students’ knowledge of the material you are teaching. Hopefully these pros and cons have given you something to think about. If you would like to know more about possibly adding Blackboard based assessments to your course, please contact us at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu.

Brett Creech
Educational Technologist