Northwestern explores host of online proctoring opportunities in Canvas

From computer lab exams to fully online events, several schools and instructors have piloted various proctoring tools at Northwestern over the past year. With some schools, this includes a service that is fully integrated with a program. In other cases, individual instructors or departments have seized the opportunity to pilot new software packages. Each use case carries shared goals of saving class time, reducing administrative tasks for instructors or TAs, and increasing academic integrity, with a special focus on keeping costs low.

Respondus LockDown Browser

Respondus LockDown Browser Icon
For large class or computer lab testing, LockDown Browser is an easy-to-use and reliable tool for instructors. Available in Canvas upon request, this tool prompts students to download a custom browser to their desktop. When an exam or quiz is assigned in Canvas, students open the assessment in LockDown Browser. At that point, their computer is locked to the exam page, disabling any search, chat, or tool functions on their device.

Northwestern in Qatar first piloted LockDown Browser in 2015 before fully adopting the tool the following year. Since then, LockDown Browser usage has expanded to instructors in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and Feinberg School of Medicine.

In Feinberg, the use of LockDown Browser is coinciding with a larger effort of moving all of their in-class exams online to Canvas. While exams will still be taken in person, LockDown Browser provides that extra layer of security needed in an online exam setting.

Examity and Online Proctoring

Examity logo
After years of using ProctorU for online examinations, the Distance Learning unit at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) recently adopted Examity for online testing after a deep investigation into the proctoring market.

Distance learning programs within SPS require a minimum number of proctored events as part of the accreditation process. These events require verification of the students’ identity along with webcam monitoring of the student while taking the exam. This added layer of security acts as a safeguard against incidents of cheating (related tools like Turnitin are also implemented in Canvas to discourage plagiarism). 

Jackie Wickham, an instructional technologist with the School of Professional Studies, was heavily involved in the review of potential proctoring services.

“We chose Examity over other available proctoring vendors because of its flexibility,” said Wickham. “It offers five different levels of identity verification and exam proctoring – from automated identity verification to live proctoring, which is important for our fully online courses. We also appreciate the Canvas integration and their quick response to student and faculty questions.”

Examity is available in Canvas upon request across Northwestern. Instructors or units have the option of a student-paid or departmental-paid model.

Additional Proctoring Experiments

Respondus Monitor Icon
In addition to LockDown Browser, Respondus also offers Monitor, which, like Examity, records students as they take online exams from Canvas. Exams still launch through LockDown Browser, ensuring a student is unable to access any other tools or pages on their computer. Additionally, students are recorded via their webcam with recordings and any flagged behavior stored in Canvas for instructors to review. Monitor was piloted towards the end of winter quarter and is available in Canvas upon request (student fees apply).

To learn more or pilot some of the tools discussed in this article, contact us at