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What instructors need to know about virtual proctoring

Review of privacy policies

As mentioned on the Privacy Policy web page, the University supports the closely aligned principles of transparency and accountability and is committed to protecting specific types of information, which include personal information, teaching and research records. 

This privacy guideline is developed in an effort to assist faculty and instructors with their teaching activities and use of technologies in teaching, especially in response to remote teaching due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Policies pertaining to this privacy guidelines are:

In teaching within both physical and virtual classrooms, the instructor is responsible for the careful and secure handling and storage of student personal information. This personal information includes, but is not limited to, student names, Toronto Metropolitan University usernames, email addresses, assessment grades and final grades, submitted assignments, discussion postings, online activities within the learning management system (D2L Brightspace), as well as any recordings of student voices, images, and their study environment or surroundings. 

While students at Toronto Metropolitan University have been informed of the collection and use of their information (See the University’s Notice of Collection), instructors still need to be mindful of managing student personal information in learning activities. 

Students’ privacy considerations

If after  (google doc) careful considerations (external link)  the course still needs to have a virtually proctored exam, the following are areas of concerns related to students' privacy that come with a virtual proctoring system.

In an automated virtual proctoring system, the identification process is done by students showing an ID card to the webcam. Students should use their OneCard to identify themselves, if they have one. As an exception to exam policy, while we are in a remote environment and OneCards are not being regularly issued, if the student does not have a OneCard, government-issued ID can be used, showing only the student photo and name (all other information on the card should be covered). Acceptable identification can be found on the OneCard Office website. For a student who wears facial covering, the instructor can ask the student to fill out the  (PDF file) form affirming their identity. If a student is known to the instructor, it is acceptable for the student to write their student number on a piece of paper and show it to the camera. 

Only the instructor and other teaching assistants or invigilating staff should have access to the ID information for the purposes of ID verification and must not use the information for any other purpose.

The use of webcam is required when using a virtual proctoring system, for students to show their identification and a 360 degree view of surroundings in which they will complete the online exam. While completing the exam, the webcam is pointed toward the student’s face and it captures the student’s front view throughout the exam.

A virtual proctoring system records students completing the exam. It is important to inform students in the course outline that the exam cannot be taken without a recording. Therefore, a notice of collection must be provided to students ahead of the exam and should be posted in a prominent location within the learning management system D2L Brightspace ( (google doc) Notice of Collection for Respondus Monitor (external link) ).

By default, both virtual proctoring systems are integrated with the D2L Brightspace Quiz. In general, Respondus LockDown Browser + Monitor is recommended for quiz-style exams. 

How to use virtual proctoring for exams delivered via D2L Brightspace

Below are the steps on how to use the virtual proctoring systems based on the exam style being delivered and how to enable and configure it.

Quiz-style exam is rather straightforward, since the virtual proctoring system works directly with the D2L Brightspace Quiz tool. For a quiz-style exam, it is recommended to use Respondus LockDown Browser + Monitor.

  1. Create the D2L Brightspace Quiz.
  2. Configure the quiz settings according to how the exam will be delivered, which may include availability, duration, behaviour, restrictions, special access for students requiring accommodations, etc.
  3. Enable the virtual proctoring tool Respondus LDB + Monitor.

Essay-style exams can be delivered using the D2L Brightspace Quiz, specifically the Written Response question type. The steps are the same as the quiz-style exam steps above, and no additional steps are required. However, there is no originality report with this method. Instructors will mark the essay directly in the quiz, one student one question at a time, and there is no bulk download for students' responses.

Note that Respondus LDB does not allow any word processing software to be launched, therefore students have to type in their essay in the provided space in the Written Response question type of Brightspace Quiz.

In a handwritten exam, the exam questions are presented in the D2L Brightspace Quiz and students upload their handwritten answers to the D2L Assignment. Respondus LDB + Monitor works with the D2L quiz tool, not the assignment tool. To proctor students taking exams, the questions must be delivered using the D2L Quiz tool, which will enable the virtual proctoring tool. Students can only read the exam questions in the quiz tool. Students then write their answers on paper and take photos of the handwritten answers using their mobile device. These photos are uploaded to D2L Brightspace Assignment.

Students will be looking down when they are writing their answers on paper and students will be allowed to use their mobile devices to take the photos of their handwritten responses and upload the photos from them. When using Respondus, these behaviours will be flagged and this will impact the reviewing phase. There will be flags of students looking down writing their answers on a paper (fail facial detection) and flags for using their smartphones to take the photo of their answers and upload them. Careful attention needs to be made in reviewing the flags to ensure whether there was any valid suspicious behaviour. 

One other important thing to note: To take virtual proctored handwritten exams, students must have a smartphone or mobile device with camera and internet connectivity. Instructors should inform students regarding this additional requirement.

In a mixed-style exam, methodologies for quiz-style and essay- and/or handwritten-style exams will be used.

Special access and assistive technology

The "Special Access" setting in D2L Brightspace enables you to allow individual students different rules for the completion of their quiz. This is invaluable in providing time-based accommodations. Please refer to the LMS Courses website on providing special access to students with accommodations.

Screen readers

Respondus works with most screen readers, including NVDA, JAWS, MS Windows Narrator, VoiceOver for Mac and iPad. LockDown Browser’s functions and security remain the same when screen readers are used.

Text-to-speech, reading, and/or literacy software

Supports most reading softwares with exceptions and/or customizations. 

  • Texthelp Read&Write (Windows): Custom “lockdown mode” setting will be applied to Read&Write toolbar to prevent certain features from being used (i.e. web searches). 
  • ReadSpeaker TextAid (Windows): Works with “bookmarklet” version.
  • Speech (Mac): Speech works, except it does not read multiple choice or true/false correctly with all LMS integrations. Being investigated by Respondus.
  • Others: Other applications would need to be tested, as they may contain exploits. 
  • Dragon: Dragon is not blocked by LockDown Browser during an exam, but some functionality may be limited. Users have reported that adjusting the settings to turn off the dictation box will allow Dragon to work with LockDown Browser.

Kurzweil (online) with Respondus

Instructors will need to configure the LockDown Browser settings for the exam.

  1. Under the drop-down arrow next to the quiz, under settings, there is a section called LockDown Browser Settings. Under Advanced Settings, there is the ability to "Allow access to specific external web domains". 
  2. Input these three URLs:,,
  3. Lastly, the instructor will need to provide a hyperlink to Kurzweil online, within the quiz instructions in D2L. Instructors must set hyperlink to “Open as an External Resource” so it doesn’t open in the same window.

Certain features may be difficult or impossible to use for someone who is blind or has a physical disability. For example:

  • A student who has a physical disability and uses Dragon Dictation to navigate may not be able to hold up their student ID within the designated area.

Please review all settings within Respondus, when taking into account a student’s accommodation needs.

Reviewing the recordings

Once the exam is completed, the video recordings of the students taking the exams will be available in the virtual proctoring dashboard. Instructors will be presented with flags throughout the video wherever the AI finds the student behaving suspiciously based on the video analysis using facial detection technology. Virtual proctoring systems also look at the data from the device and network, such as internet interruption and computer restarting, and present this information on the dashboard. The other information provided is based on the student’s interaction with the exam, such as when the student starts and submits the exam.

Keep in mind that if there are flags, it does not mean that the student cheats. The flags need to be reviewed carefully, since there are more “false positives”, where the flag actually is incorrect. For example, the flag indicates that the “student is missing from frame”, but in the video the student is in the frame, but may be briefly looking down. The facial detection analysis is also affected by the lighting and backlighting in the room, whether the student wears a baseball cap, and certain styles of eyeglasses. We do not have the average number of flags for a one-hour exam recording, since each proctored session is very unique.  

Therefore, when using the virtual proctoring system for handwritten exams, there will be more flags presented, since students will be looking down as they write down their answers on paper. As well, there will be flags for students using the phone to take photos of their answers and to submit the photos to the Assignment.