Senior Online Course Developer – Faculty of Science, UoP
The Safe Exam Browser (SEB) is a Windows programme developed by ETH Zurich, which allows members of staff to isolate an online Moodle exam on a student-build computer. This means that no other webpages, pieces of software or programmes can be used once the exam has been entered. If extra documentation is required to complement the exam, this can be accounted for as long as it is predefined before the exam. Essentially, the academic can control what students see on the screen within the duration of the exam.
This year during our summative exam period we have used SEB widely across the Faculty of Science, with each department having at least one of their online exams run through the system, if not more. We are very glad to report it has been very successful! The process proved to be really straightforward with academics taking to the programme with great enthusiasm.
All students that used the system were easily able to get onto SEB, logging on with their normal username and password. As the exam itself pulls from Moodle, once in the system students are faced with an identical layout to Moodle quizzes, allowing them to interact with a familiar interface. This automatically puts students at ease as many of them will have used formative quizzes right up until the exam period.
Making your exam available through the SEB system couldn’t be easier. Anyone with editing rights in Moodle can set it up, be it academics, administrators or Online Course Developers. From the settings page of your Moodle quiz you will need to enable either a start and end time of your exam (the period in which the students can take the exam) in the ‘Timings’ section, or a ‘Restrict Access’ time and date. The ‘Restrict Access’ is when the exam is visible to the students (within the Science faculty, we use both the timings option and the restrict access). Lastly you will need to tag your quiz as an exam, you can do this from the ‘Tags’ section towards the end of the quiz settings. From the drop-down in this section select ‘exam-official’, select ‘Save changes’ and your exam will appear within SEB on the day of the exam.
There is one thing to be aware of – if you have activity name auto-linking set up on your Moodle sites, a word used in your exam question could hyperlink itself to a resource you have elsewhere in your Moodle unit. This will display as a blue hyperlink to the student in the exam in SEB. If the student then clicks on this link SEB will show an error message and will take the student out of the exam. I would strongly recommend turning off the auto-linking in your Moodle unit’s filter section to avoid this headache during an exam session.
Staff moderating online exams will have access to a special password enabling students to rejoin their exam attempt where the left off, however this won’t be necessary if the Moodle auto-linking filter has been disabled in advance of an exam.
In order for students to access the exam, they should launch Safe Exam Browser from the new AppsAnywhere website (http://appsanywhere.port.ac.uk). Once SEB has launched the computer is locked into the restricted exam mode, until the exam has been completed. Directly after launching SEB students will be prompted to login to Moodle as normal then a list is shown with all the exams available to them. SEB will only make the exams available to the students that need them – anyone attached to that unit in Moodle via student records. Student won’t see exams from other courses, units or faculties.
The exam can have different groups of students taking it at different intervals throughout the day, achieved by setting up groups and groupings on your Moodle units and assigning these groups to the exams, as you would normally do. SEB will also pull this data through without any extra work from you, so you can run multiple time slots of the exam or have extra time students been allocated the necessary additional time.
As with Moodle exams, you can set up passwords, shuffle your questions and responses for each student and display any feedback you may wish to give them at the end of the exam. Once the students have completed the exam, they can exit the browser and the computer returns to it’s normal settings.
I would highly recommend using Safe Exam Browser for any in-class test or summative exam. The benefits of adding an official ‘exam feel’ to a familiar interface has been greatly received within our own faculty. Staff feel more at ease knowing students can’t access anything else on the computer, and have been shown how robust the system is with a massive number accessing it all at once across the campus. Students find the system very easy to log into and navigate through and say it adds a formal feeling to the exam process that they said wasn’t apparent when just using Moodle.
More information on Safe Exam Browser can be found at the links below:
Logo credits: https://www.safeexambrowser.org