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Using LockDown Browser with Audio, Video and PDFs

Respondus LockDown Browser blocks student access to other applications during an online test. But there are times when an instructor wants to include audio or video files that require a viewer or player. If the media files aren’t added to the assessment properly, the viewer or player might appear underneath LockDown Browser, preventing students from seeing the content or accessing the controls.

If you’re HTML-savvy, the quick answer is to make sure to use an “object/embed” tag instead of an "a href=" tag for each link to a media file. This will result in a small window appearing within the question itself, with play and stop buttons for controlling the playback.

A sample snippet of HTML is provided at the end of this article if you’d like to try it yourself.*

If you’re not an HTML expert, an easy solution is to use Respondus 3.5 to create your assessments. To include an audio or video file in a question, position the cursor where you want the playback window to appear. Then, click the camera icon on the Respondus 3.5 toolbar. Select the audio or video file and choose the plug-in or viewer to be used. Respondus 3.5 will supply the appropriate HTML code when the assessment is published to the course management system.

As noted above, Respondus LockDown Browser will display the player in a window within the online test itself – assuming that the player has already been installed to the student’s computer (see “Practice Tests” below).

Links to PDF Files and Web Pages
There are also times when instructors want to provide links to a web page or a PDF file located at another URL. If the assessment is already in the course management system, it’s often possible to use an online editor to create the link to that page or file.

However, if using Respondus 3.5 to build the assessment, select the “Web Link” icon from the toolbar and create the link to the desired web page or file. As before, Respondus 3.5 will include the appropriate HTML when it publishes the assessment to the course management system.

This next point is important. Within LockDown Browser, when a web link is clicked, a new secure window is opened. For security reasons, all links on the new web page are disabled. This prevents students from going beyond the initial page that was specified by the instructor. So it’s important that web links point directly to the web page or document that contains the relevant content. For example, if you want students to access a PDF file, create a link directly to that file. If you instead link to a web page that contains the link to the PDF file, Respondus LockDown Browser will block students’ attempts to click that link.

Practice Tests
And finally, we can’t over-emphasize the benefits of having students take a practice test before using LockDown Browser with a graded assessment. This is especially important if assessments will include audio/video files or web links.

If there’s any chance that the computers used by students don’t have the right players or viewers installed, we recommend creating two practice tests. The first should require students to use Internet Explorer (Windows) or Safari (Mac) to make sure the necessary players and plug-ins are installed. (And, yes, it’s essential that students use those specific browsers. LockDown Browser uses the same plug-ins and players from those browsers.) The second test, which can use the identical questions and content, should require students to use LockDown Browser. Both tests should allow unlimited attempts so students can try again after fixing any problems.


* Code snippet for “object/embed” tag (for use with an HTML editor that converts regular text into HTML):

<object id="rspObj1235626673" classid="clsid:6BF52A52-394A-11D3-B153-00C04F79FAA6" width="200" height="100">
<param name="url" value="">
<param name="AutoStart" value="false">
<embed src="" autostart="false" width="200" height="100">

Related Articles
Five Little-Known Reasons to Use Respondus LockDown Browser
Respondus LockDown Browser: Improved Integration with Blackboard
Do Your Students Use Wikipedia & Google During Tests?

Source: Respondus, Inc. (
Originally Published: March 3, 2009

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