Another step has been taken in technology’s relentless march to domination. The blue books college students have all come to love may be falling to the wayside at Boston College, as Vincent Rocchio, a professor in the communication department, used a computer software called Respondus Lockdown Browser to administer a test to his Interpersonal Communications class on Oct. 14. You might ask: but how can this technological tomfoolery be? Wouldn’t students just be able to google the answers or check their notes on Word?
Lockdown browser opens from Canvas and blocks access to all other windows. It can’t be run on parallel windows, and restricts other internet use. The student can only access the testing system. According to Rocchio, only two of his 72 students experienced glitches during the test and grading efficiency has increased by 50 percent with the implementation of the software. He worked in conjunction with BC’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and the directing of teaching and learning technology at CTE, Cristina Mirshekari. Together, they pursued a site license, which costs about 31 cents per student and allows faculty to use the software. The goal of this new system is to reduce environmental waste and reduce the cost of test-taking.
This is a good program that makes the test-taking process more efficient and cuts down on waste, but going forward, professors who choose to use this program should be sure to address possible issues. Students who do not have access to a laptop must be provided with the necessary accommodations so that they can take the test alongside the other students. Work should also be done to prevent cheating, as students are presumably able to see other students’ laptops. Rearranging questions would be one relatively easy way to address this. As this is a new way of administering tests, professors and administrators working on it should ensure that they continue to address the new problems and issues that might stem from it.
In the future, this software would work well for essay and writing-based exams, but might need some work when it comes to more technical exams, such as economics and math. It also helps prepare students for post-graduate exams such as the Graduate Record Examination and the Medical College Admission Test, which are both administered on computers. In the future, BC should continue to explore the use of this new software and determine which classes and test-taking situations are best-suited for it, which should hopefully reduce waste and improve efficiency.
Featured Image by Kelsey McGee / Heights Editor