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Most instructors get excited when they learn the Blackboard has a built-in test tool that will automatically administer, and sometimes even grade student tests. I mean what's not to get excited about? Well, there are some limitations that you need to keep in mind before you give a test in Blackboard or in any other online environment. The first one is that technology cannot fix character. The students who are cheating in your face-to-face class are going to be cheating online. There's no way in Blackboard to prevent that from happening.
In fact, there is no technological fix that is going to prevent your students from cheating. It's just not going to happen. One of the questions I get asked a lot is, how do I prevent my students from copying my test questions? And yeah, there are scripts out there you can install that prevents students from cutting and pasting. Just do a Google search and you'll find it. But here's a problem with this. You install that script. You're not preventing the students from cutting and pasting. You're not disabling their cell phone and their cell phone camera. You're not disabling simple message system so they can be text message to their friends. You're not disabling the telephone, so they could be on the phone with somebody. You're not disabling instant message, SnagIt, Camtasia, a pencil, someone standing next to them.
Technology just can not fix character. In fact, unless you're giving the test in a proctored lab environment you just have to consider that Blackboard test are going to be take-home exams. And what we say at my institution is, if you're not comfortable with that Blackboard tests, well, just isn't for you. My suggestion from years of experience, treat Blackboard tests like practice exams. Low risk, low score. Now this is a positive. You give the students the opportunity to practice over and over and over again, or conversely think of this as a license to ask really, really difficult questions that will require lots of research and deep reflection.
If you're like me, some of the most difficult tests I've ever taken in my life were take-home exams. Another tip that you need to remember, again from years of experience, don't assume that your students know how to take an online exam. What you need to do is you need to teach your students how to take an online exam. Let me give you some tips that might help you. First of all, make sure that your students know they need to close all other programs running on their computer. Any other program that kind of pops up and tries to install an update or whatever could kick them out of their test.
The test is kind of important so you want to make sure that all other programs are closed. I really strongly recommended that your students don't use a wireless connection if it's possible. The wireless connection at your campus or around your town may be stable, but sometimes it goes up and down. You don't want to lose connection in the middle of a test, especially if that's something that's important to you. Something that may sound a little strange, but don't use your browser's Refresh, Back, or Forward buttons, because you have got this test page open.
If you click Refresh, Back or Forward you're leaving the test. That's a bad idea. And the mouse's scroll wheel, if you haven't thought about this, say I click on an answer and I use the scroll wheel, I may not actually scroll down the page. I may accidentally change my answer. One other thing, students are so used to double clicking on things. You need to teach them that when they're in the test environment they need to single click the buttons. Do not double-click. In fact, when you begin a test in older versions of Blackboard, double-clicking on Begin Test will begin it and then begin it again and if the test can only be taken once you've locked yourself out of the test.
Finally, tell your students to save their work often. I'll show you how to do this inside of a Blackboard test, but it's really important. Check with your institution's help desk while you're at it. To see if they have any additional tips or tricks they would like for you to share with your students. But remember there is no technological fix for character. you need to treat Blackboard online tests as a take-home exam that the students are going to be using notes and other resources on.
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