Each exam session I check the online exams in Canvas to ensure that academics have set them up correctly. The same Canvas errors, Turnitin mishaps and ProctorU doubts surface each time.
Fair enough! Like losing an umbrella, it’s easy to forget something that you don’t do daily. So here’s a peek at the most common issues.
Myth 1: If I publish an exam now, students will see it
I know, it sounds like publishing an exam will make it instantly available to students, but it won’t. Once you have entered the correct exam availability time, you can confidently hit the ‘Publish’ button.
Students can’t access the exam or view its contents (except rubrics) until the exam availability window starts. No UTS staff member will make it visible either.
Why is it a problem to wait until exam day to publish?
The exam checkers can’t do all their tests and help a subject coordinator until an exam is published. Waiting to publish an exam on the day exposes the exam to last-minute problems and student panic.
If your exam sits in a Canvas module, make sure the module has the green ‘published’ tick too, or any exam (published or not) within it won’t show.
Myth 2: ProctorU settings don’t need to match the instructions
Unclear exam instructions will freak out students, who will already be nervous. Incorrect ProctorU settings can also ‘flag’ honest students with misconduct.
The most common ProctorU pitfalls that I find in instructions include:
- stating that notepaper is not permitted, only to later say that it is
- allowing using Word or opening a PDF, without settings that let students do this in a browser
- permitting Excel use, but with ProctorU settings that won’t ‘allow’ students to open other programs (‘Application lost focus’) or tabs (‘browser tabs’ set to ‘allowed’) on their device – so students can’t leave the exam page to get to Excel or Google Sheets
ProctorU is a stickler for rules. In Canvas, ProctorU ‘Settings’ must match instructions to work properly, and to assure nervous students.
How do I check ProctorU settings?
ProctorU settings are complicated even for us exam checkers. The best way to tackle creating them is to read through each instruction, imagining that you are the student. Ask: does every ProctorU setting allow you take the exam problem-free and honestly? Use the LX templates to make writing instructions straightforward.
Myth 3: Whitelisting a webpage lets students access all they need
‘Whitelisting’ seems straightforward enough – list the URL of a website that you want blocked during an online exam, right? Yes, and no.
The problem is, it’s more complicated than that. It is not possible to whitelist an eBook or webpage that requires a login. This includes search results in a webpage and UTS library articles. Also, you can’t whitelist a whole domain. Whitelisting works best for just a few specific URLs that do not change.
What’s a better way to whitelist?
- Think about whitelisting individual URLs, not whole domains.
- Check to see if the URL is dynamically created – does it have a long string of random characters? If so, it probably changes constantly.
- In that case, consider using a different source or allowing students to use any website – ie not whitelisting at all.
Set up online exams without fuss
There are more Canvas exam settings to keep in mind, but it doesn’t need to be mysterious. LX has straightforward guides to help you design online exams, set up AI invigilation, and prepare students for assessments and marking. You can even follow some quick steps to set up ProctorU to prevent the use of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.
You can also join one of our upcoming workshops that cover set-up and configuration for different types of exams: