Guidelines for Securing Exams and Classes Online

Academic integrity is of course just as important in a virtual learning environment as it is in an in-person class, and teaching remotely means considering a range of familiar and also some possibly new approaches to ensure that all students are bringing that integrity to their work. Below are a few suggestions to consider.

Key Principles for Assessing Students in a Remote Learning Environment

  • Make sure students understand University academic integrity policies and your course-specific expectations:
    1. In your syllabus and during class, communicate with your students about your and the University’s expectations of academic integrity and what constitutes a violation of it. For example, to what extent are students allowed to collaborate on assignments? Are exams going to be open-book or closed-book? Are they going to be timed and/or time-bound? What kinds of resources can they use?
    2. Informally quiz students on your policies. This will give them a chance to make mistakes when the stakes are low, and will help them generate questions about your expectations before it’s time to hand in an assignment or take a test. Having a conversation to field those questions can also help things go more smoothly by simultaneously addressing student questions regarding assignment due dates and other information in the course.
  • Require students’ explicit commitment to academic integrity: Include waivers at the top of tests/online assessments that require a click before the assessment can be submitted; i.e. “I certify that all work on this assessment is entirely my own and does not violate Georgetown’s Academic Integrity policies.”

    1. For online testing, use available software applications to ensure academic integrity for online testing:
      1. For higher-stakes testing, consider using Proctorio, a robust exam proctoring option, available from within Canvas
        1. This provides our most secure testing environment. It provides for student identity verification, video capture, remote proctoring, and web browser lockdown.
        2. Proctorio is not currently available for mobile devices and there are some minimum technological requirements (such as a webcam with 320×240 VGA resolution or better). For students with inadequate technology, consider alternatives (such as those articulated below), or one-off solutions like FaceTiming with a student during an exam.
        3. Some students may feel that software like Proctorio creates an overly protective environment. Others may have privacy concerns–please see [link to document] for information on the privacy protections that Proctorio guarantees.
      2. For lower-stakes testing, consider using Canvas as the testing platform and visual proctoring using zoom.
      3. Deciding on whether to use Proctorio, other means of integrity assurance for online testing, or alternative mechanisms for assessment requires balancing technological and other concerns with the ultimate goal of fair and rigorous assessment. Whether using Proctorio or not, use built-in quiz tools within Canvas to secure your exams:
        1. Randomize questions to make it harder for students to compare notes on an exam. Find out about randomizing questions in Canvas.
        2. Set up an access code for a test in Canvas and only share that password when you are ready to have students begin the test.
        3. Limit the time during which a student can complete an online assessment to something that is reasonable, yet prevents their looking up answers.
    2. Consider assessment mechanisms alternative to online testing. Could an online quiz or exam be replaced with a project, paper, or discussion-based assessment?

Continue to employ usual best practices for written assessments such as student papers or projects, including using Turnitin to check for plagiarism also available within Canvas—and let students know that you’re going to be doing that.

For information about Student Data Privacy, please visit here.

CNDLS Office Hours

CNDLS provides virtual office hours for support with teaching practices and tools. Summer office hours are available 10 am – 3 pm by clicking the button below.  After hours, please email For information on office hours offered by CETS, UIS, and other partners, please click here.

Tip of the Week

This past semester, over 100 students supported instructors’ remote classes as Instructional Technology Aides (ITAs). We’ve assembled a roundup of insights from the ITAs that you might find useful as you think about your fall classes.

CNDLS Calendar

Visit the CNDLS calendar to learn about upcoming programs and workshops.

Securing Canvas during exams

What can I do when I give an exam outside of Canvas?

Disable, unpublish, or suspend access to Canvas course content

It is good practice to clearly communicate to students why parts or all of the course are made inaccessible during an exam.

Please note

  • Students may have downloaded this content or opened it on their own device, so unpublishing it is not a guarantee that the content is inaccessible.
  • Course content hosted on third-party tools, such as Panopto and Sharestream, can be accessed from the tools’ site even when it is hidden in Canvas.

Restore Canvas course content

What can I do when I give an exam in Canvas?

Unpublish access to Canvas course content

  • When students take an exam as a Canvas quiz or as a Canvas assignment, instructors still have the ability to unpublish modules, pages, or files.
  • Communicate with students clearly about what kinds of data you will consider in instances of suspected academic dishonesty.

Note about Canvas quizzes

  • Canvas quizzes generate an activity log that instructors can review. This log keeps track of when students begin the quiz, answer questions, and submit the quiz, among other information. This information should be reviewed with caution, as reports that students “stopped viewing the quiz” can occur because students do not move their pointer or click for 30 seconds.
  • Canvas support indicates that the “Stopped viewing the Canvas quiz-taking page” message occurs:
    • when you’re inactive within Canvas (after 30 seconds)
    • when your mouse is inactive in a window outside of Canvas (after 15 seconds)
    • when you actually click outside of Canvas.
  • According to Instructure, “Quiz logs should not be used to validate academic integrity or identify occurrences of cheating.”

Resources/Further Reading

  1. How do I view a quiz log?
  2. Dartmouth Cheating Debacle: 3 Initial Observations. By Phil Hill on May 11, 2021 05:30 pm. In one case this limitation has been specifically called out in the Canvas Community forums. “You can view quiz logs to view the status of your student quizzes. This feature is designed to help you investigate problems that a student may have in the quiz and gain insight into your quiz questions. Quiz logs are not intended to validate academic integrity or identify cheating for a quiz.”