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We Need a Heads Up

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Security feature screen on the Lockdown Browser by Breegan Petruska

By The Collegiate Staff

As college students, we are in a weird time when many of us are taking mostly online classes. We are having to struggle through and try and teach ourselves in classes where instruction from our professors may be lacking. Along with these online classes comes online testing. How are our professors supposed to proctor us online? Many colleges and universities across the country have turned to the Lockdown Browser. 

The Lockdown Browser is software that records a student’s audio and video while they take tests. There are many things a student can’t do while using the browser. They can’t copy, paste, or switch tabs, and there is a long list of programs that can’t be run on your computer while the browser is open. 

Many students have had an extra hard time this semester. We are in the middle of a pandemic. We are struggling to make ends meet, teach ourselves, take care of our families, and deal with our mental health, all while trying to keep ourselves safe from a deadly virus.  And now we have to deal with the distrust from our professors and this browser that invades our privacy.

There are a number of reasons why this browser should not be forced upon students. First of all, when signing up for classes, the description in the class does not tell the student that the Lockdown Browser is required. Because this is required for some classes, it is forcing those students to scramble to find access to compatible technology. The software doesn’t work on all computers, including most Chromebooks that Grand Rapids Community College has been loaning to students without their own computers. 

A new update has been added for the browser to run on Chromebooks, but it has been left up to individual professors to make that decision to use the update or not. If the professor chooses not to use the most recent version of the browser, then the student must check out a different laptop from the school’s library. Why should this decision be left up to professors? The school should automatically use this update to make things as accessible as possible for the students.

When using the browser, students have to show that they are in a quiet room, with no other people, and their surroundings must be approved by the software before they can even access the test. Students that live in homes with their families don’t always have that space to be alone. What are they supposed to do in that situation? If they don’t have that option to leave with their computer and have access to wifi outside of their family home, then how are they supposed to take their test? 

This browser is an overdone, invasion of student’s privacy that is adding to the anxiety that we are already dealing with. While it is important to proctor students’ testing, it is also important to communicate with students ahead of time so they can be better prepared for having to use this browser. If GRCC continues to use this browser in the future, they should list in class descriptions what browser is required for specific classes. If students don’t have the proper equipment for that browser then it is just another added stress. Schools that use this software should come up with a better alternative that will be less stressful for students who are struggling during this time.