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Can Professors See Other Tabs

Whether you’re writing an online test, in an online class, or simply browsing, you may be concerned your professor can see your activities or at the very least they might notice when you switch tabs.

One of the biggest challenges of online learning is supervising student activities during online classes and tests. Students are more likely to attempt cheating in an online test environment than in an in-person test.

While cheating should never be encouraged in studies, we’ll help alleviate any concerns students might have over whether their professors can see them open other tabs or switch between tabs.

There’s however no straightforward answer to this question as this depends purely on the scenario. So, to answer this question, we’ll first take a look at various instances where professors can and cannot see other tabs.

When Can Professors See Other Tabs

School Computer

While most schools that equip their students with laptops do not always install tracking software on them, there’re some institutions that go the distance in an attempt to monitor and limit student access to certain sites and misuse.

If you’re using a laptop provided by your institution, the institution can track your activities during tests only if they have tracking software installed. If the laptop has no such software installed, students can freely access other tabs without professors noticing.

It’s worth noting that this is also contingent on the next point.

Proctoring Software

Proctoring applications have become common as institutions continue to leverage them for remote invigilation. To curb examination malpractice in online examinations, some educational institutions resort to the use of proctoring tools like Proctorio, ProctorU, and Honorlock.

These tools serve as remote proctors by accessing computer webcam and microphones to record student activities during online tests. Any attempts at cheating or any activities deemed as suspicious by the artificial intelligence or human proctors would be flagged for review after the test.

They also record the computer screen during online tests and any attempts at opening another tab can also be flagged and recorded for further review. In the case where real-life proctors are on the other end, they could intervene for further clarification from students.

Not only this but some also leverage LockDown Browsers.

LockDown Browsers

If you’re in the online learning space, you may have heard of LockDown Browsers. These browsers have become popular for both positive and negative reasons.

LockDown browsers lock the testing environment preventing students from accessing other applications, switching or opening tabs, minimizing, opening other browsers, printing, copy-pasting, and various other user activities.

While their usefulness is undeniable, some students have expressed privacy concerns over the level of access LockDown Browsers have to a student’s computer during an online test.

Essentially, these browsers gain a high level of access to a student’s computer during tests preventing them from performing any unspecified activities. Although LockDown Browsers do not access browser history, they have permission to do so, which leads to arguments and privacy concerns.

As secure as LockDown Browsers are, they’re only useful in environments where a real-life invigilator is present in the student’s testing environment as they do not directly record students. Students can therefore leverage other devices to cheat. This makes it a great option when students take online tests in an examination center or school in the presence of an invigilator.

Proctoring solutions like Respondus Monitor which is also referred to as Respondus LockDown Browser however extend the functionalities of the LockDown Browser by accessing student cameras and microphones to record students in their testing environment.

This makes Respondus LockDown Browser a better alternative for remote proctoring. It also records the student’s computer screen and flags any suspicious activities for instructors to review.

School Internet

While using the school’s internet doesn’t necessarily mean the school would be able to track any open tabs, they can still track your MAC address and any sites you attempted visiting during the test.

Some may go as far as to block access to other sites so students aren’t tempted to try searching for answers online.

Event Listeners

While these aren’t LockDown Browsers, event listeners can be implemented to run in the user’s browser which can be triggered by various actions including switching tabs or windows.

Some websites can use the JavaScript Page Visibility API to listen for the visibilitychange event on the document object to determine if the document is visible or hidden. To put it simply, it checks to see whether a user has switched to another tab or window.

Users usually get a warning to refrain from switching tabs and subsequent attempts could lead to paper cancellation. The professor may then be notified should the warning show up again if a student continues their attempt to switch tabs.

When Can’t Professors See Other Tabs

Personal Computers

Using your own laptop is a good way to avoid getting detected when trying to open new tabs during online tests. While this isn’t enough to avoid detection, the alternative is unadvisable as using the school’s computer could lead to trouble should monitoring software be installed on it.

No Proctoring Software

Your institution is bound to inform you should your test be remotely proctored. In this case, it’s advisable to refrain from attempting to open any new tabs irrespective of whose computer you’re using.

Proctoring applications record student activities and background during tests and also record the computer screen. Any attempts to open a new tab would be flagged by these tools for review.

No LockDown Browser

If your test doesn’t require a LockDown Browser, you may be able to open a new tab. LockDown Browsers would restrict student actions on the computer including minimizing windows and switching or opening new tabs.

No Event Listeners

Students can freely switch tabs without any warning should the website not have even listeners that can identify changes in document visibility (visible or hidden).

Can Professors See Other Tabs

Now that we have an idea of when and how professors can see or not see students switching to other tabs, we’ll attempt to answer the primary question.

Yes, professors can see other tabs if your online test is proctored or the testing page uses JavaScript’s Page Visibility API to identify a change in the test page’s active status. However, tests that require a LockDown Browser would restrict students’ ability to open or switch tabs during tests.

With the advancements in technology, your instructor doesn’t even need to use proctoring software to identify students who switched tabs. It’s advisable to avoid this action during online tests unless explicitly permitted by your instructor to avoid any penalties.

While your intentions may be innocent, it’s worth remembering that breaching your professor’s instructions could be considered cheating which is frowned on by most educational institutions. Punishments could range from suspension to dismissal.

Can A Website See What Other Tabs Are Open

No, websites cannot view the data in other tabs directly. However, some websites use cookies, which are little pieces of information that websites can keep in your browser. If two websites utilize the same advertising or monitoring network, your browser history on both sites may be tracked and linked.

Social network scripts may also be used as tracking programs. Users would however be informed to accept cookies before a website can store cookies in the user’s browser.

Can Teachers See Your Tabs On Zoom

No, Zoom has no functionality that allows teachers, hosts, or anyone else to see a user’s open tabs. However, sharing your screen on Zoom would enable teachers and others to see every activity on the computer screen.

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