08, Feb 2024
Today's society has become a realm of online examinations, a widely adopted method for evaluating students' learning. Despite the conveniences of online examinations, they come with challenges. These challenges include upholding the integrity of the examination process, preventing cheating, and ensuring a fair testing environment for all students.
To address these challenges, educational professionals often use a specialised tool called the Safe Exam Browser (SEB). SEB is designed to enable secure online examinations.
In this blog, we will get a comprehensive insight into the Safe Exam Browser. We will cover its definition, how it works, and its advantages and limitations. We will also look at a guide on utilising it effectively for online examinations.
Without any further delays, Let’s begin with understanding -
A Complete Guide to Learning Management System
What is SEB?
Safe Exam Browser (SEB) is a no-cost and open-source software. It is designed to temporarily transform any computer into a secure workstation for online examinations system.
It takes charge by controlling access to various resources, including system functions, external websites, and applications. This ensures that only authorised resources are accessible during an exam, preventing any sneaky business.
The main feature of the Safe Exam Browser is its compatibility. SEB seamlessly integrates with any web-based learning management system (LMS) or online examination system. Plus, it's flexible enough to be configured for specific needs.
Another great thing about SEB is that it operates independently. It doesn't reach out to any central server or cloud service, and it certainly doesn't play the data collection game. This proves to be beneficial for personal data security and ease of mind.
What are the advantages of SEB?
Enhancing Exam Security and Integrity:
SEB acts as a digital invigilator, ensuring students can't sneak a peek at unauthorised resources during exams. It makes sure there is no wandering off to other websites, applications, or files.
With Safe Exam Browser, copying, pasting, printing, or saving exam content is also restricted. It's also sharp enough to detect and block any attempts to make changes to exam settings or system functions. These include functions like task managers, keyboard shortcuts, or screen capture tools.
Reducing the Need for Human Oversight:
Safe Exam Browser collaborates well with online proctoring tools like webcams, microphones, and screen sharing. This lets it keep an eye on students during exams. Whether it's human proctors, AI algorithms, or a mix of both, SEB has your back.
It even generates reports and logs of students' activities and slip-ups, giving exam administrators or proctors a heads-up.
Ensuring a Consistent and User-Friendly Testing Environment:
SEB is the mastermind behind a standardised and distraction-free testing zone for all students. It doesn't matter if students are using a laptop, desktop, Windows, Mac, or Chromebook; everyone gets the same fair treatment.
Plus, SEB supports a variety of question types, from multiple choice to complex scientific equations. And for students with special needs, SEB has them covered with features like text-to-speech, zoom, and colour contrast.
In a nutshell, SEB is like the Swiss Army knife of the online exam system. It is versatile, reliable, and ready to tackle whatever challenges come its way.
How does SEB work?
SEB is made up of two components, a kiosk application and a browser part. Here's how they work together to form a good, safe exam browser :
The kiosk application takes control, locking down the computer and starting the SEB browser, along with any third-party apps you might need for your exam.
The SEB browser loads and shows your exam from the learning management system (LMS) or online exam system. But here's the catch – it also cuts away distractions.
There is no address bar, no search engine field—just your exam front and centre. Plus, it communicates with the LMS to confirm the user's identity and the validity of the exam
Now, SEB can work in two modes:
Benefits of Implementing Online Examination Management Software
You're in complete control here. You can easily adjust SEB settings per your preferences, tailoring them to your needs.
In exam mode, admins take the lead. They set the rules, and students have to follow them. No changes are allowed.
You can get into exam mode using a special file. This could be sent by email, web link, QR code, or USB stick. This file contains the following details: exam URL, password, allowed resources, proctoring options, and security features.
What are the limitations of the Safe Exam Browser?
While SEB is a handy tool, it comes with its own set of challenges and limitations:
Technical Know-How Needed:
Using SEB isn't as simple as ABC. Both the exam administrator and students need some tech skills. Installing and setting up the software, running system tests, and fixing issues are part of the deal.
Along with that, a stable internet connection and power supply are a must. Students also need a device and operating system that are compatible with SEB, which might only be possible for some.
Can't Stop Cheating Completely:
SEB works its very best to prevent cheating, but it's not a magic bullet. Crafty students might still find ways to cheat—using gadgets, teaming up with others, or relying on good old-fashioned notes. SEB can't stop students from using their skills or knowledge, which might not align with what the exam is testing.
Ethical and Legal Hurdles:
SEB might raise concerns about ethics and legality. Privacy, consent, and data protection become real topics. SEB collects sensitive information like biometrics, webcam footage, audio, and screen activity, which could end up in the wrong hands.
Students may have to agree to some terms and conditions. These terms may allow online proctoring services to peek into their devices and monitor their actions. This can potentially violate their rights.
And let's not forget—not everyone is on an equal playing field. Some might lack tech skills or resources or have special needs. This may lead to potential discrimination.
How to use SEB effectively for online examinations?
Utilising SEB for online exams can be a game-changer, but it's crucial to tread carefully. Here are some tips and best practices for making the most of SEB:
Choose the Right Mode and Settings:
Customise SEB to fit your exam requirements. Depending on your exam's purpose and content, decide between the configurable mode and the exam mode.
Adjust SEB settings – like allowed resources, proctoring options, and security features, to match your exam's needs. Before releasing it to students, do a test run to clear out any mistakes etc..
Clear and Transparent Communication:
Avoid confusion – clear it all out to your students. Communicate how SEB will be used, exam instructions, rules, and what happens if rules are broken. Equip students with everything they need.
These include the exam URL, password, configuration file, system test info, troubleshooting guide, and contact details for the exam administrator.
Evaluate SEB's Impact:
Post-exam, take a closer look at how SEB performed. Check the reports and logs to see what students are up to. Take necessary actions like grading, feedback, or imposing sanctions. Don't forget to get feedback from students and proctors – what worked, what didn't?
Also, analyse SEB's strengths and weaknesses and weigh the pros and cons of online exams. Consider ethical and legal aspects, ensuring data collected by SEB is handled per relevant policies and regulations.
National Education Policy 2020 - Make Your Institute Ready For NEP-2020
Examples of SEB use cases in India
SEB is in use by various educational institutions and organisations in India for different types of online examinations. Some of these are:
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT):
IIT relies on SEB for online exams across diverse engineering, science, and management courses. Their in-house online exam system, TCS iON, integrates seamlessly with SEB.
It supports various question types and online proctoring options. Besides that, it also ensures that faculty and students get information on using SEB effectively and securely.
National Testing Agency (NTA):
NTA is behind national entrance exams like JEE, NEET, UGC NET, and CMAT. It trusts SEB for its online tests. Their online examination system, NTA Testing, syncs up with SEB and offers different test formats. These include computer-based, paper-based, and a mix of both.
To add an extra layer of security, NTA uses biometric authentication like fingerprints and face recognition to confirm candidates' identities.
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):
SEBI is the regulatory body for the Indian capital market. It turns to SEB for its online tests in the selection process for various positions. Their in-house online examination system, SEBI Testing, collaborates with SEB to present tests in multiple formats. These include multiple-choice, descriptive, and case studies.
To keep things in check, SEBI employs online proctoring tools like webcams and microphones to keep an eye on candidates during the test.
Safe Exam Browser (SEB) stands as a necessary web browser environment, ensuring the safe and secure conduct of online examinations. Its advantages have undoubtedly made it a valuable tool. However, it's important to acknowledge the limitations and challenges that accompany SEB.
SEB isn't a one-size-fits-all solution; it requires a careful approach. Users should tread with caution and understand that SEB is a tool that demands technical proficiency and thoughtful implementation.
In essence, SEB, when used properly, stands as a valuable ally, contributing to secure and reliable online examinations.