Respondus Demonstration


Following ExamSoft last week, today it was Respondus who gave us a demonstration of their software.

Their quiz tool is Respondus 4, which was described as a legacy product, and it did look old. It was demonstrated running on a Windows 7 machine which is sufficiently old now that when I see Windows 7 I wonder why, does it not work on 10? Despite that, Respondus integrates with a number of VLEs and mirrors the available quiz questions types and settings which are available there. Importing and exporting from text files and Word documents was demonstrated and it seemed to work pretty well, though questions and answers have to be in exactly the right format to be recognised. I’m not sure why we would use this over using the quiz tool directly in Canvas though, and it doesn’t give us something that can replace the EDPAC system.

That comes instead from their LockDown Browser product, the one we were interested in. This allows you to set quizzes that can only be taken through LockDown Browser, a stripped down web browser which only allows access to the VLE and once the quiz begins blocks students from opening any other applications or webpages. I was a little concerned about accessibility as it relies on user’s own screen reading software and blocks certain keyboard shortcuts. Nevertheless, it seems to be popular in UK HE so it can’t be too bad.

And then there was the weird one, Monitor, which they tried to sell alongside LockDown Browser. Monitor is designed to be used for remote invigilation, and does so by recording from students’ webcams. On starting up Monitor students have to take a photo and show their university ID for verification purposes, and then Monitor will record them through the duration of the quiz and flag up any ‘unusual’ practices if detected, e.g. going away from the computer or someone else coming into the picture, which then have to be reviewed by a tutor. Recordings are stored online for up to five years on Amazon’s web services. I didn’t quite get a clear answer on whether or not they have access to a data centre in the UK / EU. Is it just me or does this all sound a bit creepy? I also didn’t get a clear answer on whether or not any UK / EU customers were using Monitor. They bundle 200 free licenses of Monitor with LockDown Browser, so there was a fudged ‘yes’, leaving open the possibility that although institutions have Monitor they aren’t using it. Bizarrely they have a completely different pricing model for LockDown Browser and Monitor, and then there are the technical problems. All of the webcam recording and playback functionality uses Flash which Adobe are finally killing in 2020. I asked about their plans on migrating to another solution and they couldn’t answer that either, saying it was all down to Amazon.

We’ll never get Monitor. I can’t imagine any UK university using it. We may get LockDown Browser. The third system demonstration we’ve had as part of this project is Speedwell, but I missed that one as I had another meeting. Other solutions are also under investigation.

Rogō eAssessment Tool Demonstration

A webinar demonstration of The University of Nottingham’s eAssessment solution, Rogō, created in-house and published under the GPL open source license. Rogō was developed in response to their dissatisfaction with commercial quiz tools and has evolved into a mature and comprehensive solution with support for over a dozen question types and different kinds of presentation, including self-assessment, summative and survey.

We were all pretty impressed with Rogō and, pending the outcome of our VLE review, it is something that we will look at again if we find ourselves in need of a separate quiz tool.

Being open source software, anyone who is interested can download Rogō from Nottingham’s dedicated website and install it onto their own LAMP server.

Storyline Demonstration


I’ve delivered a couple of training sessions lately where I’ve been plugging Storyline to people and how we can use it to enhance their learning materials. To help with this I have created a very comprehensive presentation showing all of the major features including all of the quiz and survey question types, interactions and screen and video capture options.


Have discovered Flubaroo today. Well, I can’t really lay claim to the ‘discovery’, I’m sure other people knew about it, but it was new to me. Flubaroo is a plugin for Google Docs Spreadsheets that can automatically grade the submissions from the corresponding Form and email the students their grade, turning Forms into a very useful quiz tool.

The background to this was an academic who wanted to transition from paper based assignments, for a cohort of around 300, to online submission. The easy option, use the Exam tool in the VLE, was not suitable as it does not have a calculated numeric question type. There are many, many quiz tools out there with similar functionality, but I suggested adapting Google Forms because the results would go straight into a spreadsheet and he was already having to use an Excel spreadsheet because of the complex formulas in question (entering the student’s work manually, time consuming and introducing a source of error).

Looking for a way to automatically send students their marks led me to Flubaroo that can not only do this, but can also automatically grade responses based on a specified answer row. Usage is straightforward: set up the form as normal, complete the form yourself entering all the correct answers (this is an important step, you’ll see why in a moment…) and then in the responses Spreadsheet find and install Flubaroo from the Add-ons menu. You run the tool from the same menu, so Add-ons > Flubaroo > Grade Assignment and then you will be asked to first assign points, or not, to each column, and secondly to specify a row to use as the ‘correct answers’ row, which is why it is important to take the quiz yourself first.

There are a few points to note. First, it will not allow you to grade an assignment until there have been at least two submissions, which is logical when you think about it, one to be assigned as the answer row, and at least one to actually grade. If you want to re-grade an assignment you have to go through the set-up process of assigning points and correct answers again, and similarly there is no option to simply grade new submissions to catch the stragglers or anyone with dispensation to submit late. Finally, the ‘Grade’ sheet which is produced is not live-updating, so if you want to manually grade some questions or award extra points you need to update the column in question and then the Total Points and Percent columns manually as well, it’s a shame those two columns are not formulas instead, but these minor quibbles do not mar an excellent little tool.