Respondus vs SMOWL, which online proctoring tool choose?

Online exams and certifications have come to stay. More and more institutions and companies are offering remote careers, degrees, and...
7 August 2023

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Respondus vs SMOWL, which online proctoring tool choose?

Online exams and certifications have come to stay. More and more institutions and companies are offering remote careers, degrees, and certifications. 

But to ensure the reliability of these tests and allow users to demonstrate their knowledge confidently, they must be accompanied by an online proctoring system.

Respondus and SMOWL are two of the most widely used proctoring tools in the education sector, and in this post, we will dissect which one constitutes the best proctoring software in case your company or institution plans to establish remote exams or tests.

Let’s analyze both solutions.

Disclaimer: The use of the term “Respondus” and “Respondus LockDown Browser®” in this text refers to the proprietary software developed and owned by Respondus, Inc., the appropriate trademark holder. Any references made to Respondus LockDown Browser® are for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement, sponsorship, or affiliation with Respondus, Inc. Furthermore, this disclaimer is in no way intended to infringe upon or violate any intellectual property rights associated with the Respondus LockDown Browser® trademark held by Respondus, Inc.

What is Respondus?

Respondus is a company dedicated to developing evaluation and monitoring solutions for education, training, and certification. Their technology creates, delivers, monitors, and analyzes assessments.

One of their main products is Respondus LockDown Browser®, a customized browser that locks down the assessment environment on Learning Management Systems (LMS). This browser ensures a distraction-free evaluation environment and is particularly useful for ensuring academic integrity in online exams in classrooms or supervised environments.


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During an exam, students cannot copy, print, access other applications, or visit other websites.

Respondus Monitor is another product from the company that complements Respondus LockDown Browser® . Using the webcam, Monitor automatically supervises online exams that are not supervised directly.

This system uses artificial intelligence to record and analyze students’ exam sessions, classifying the results by risk and helping instructors identify sessions that require a more detailed review.

Respondus vs SMOWL, which online proctoring tool choose?

How is it different from SMOWL?

As you probably know, SMOWL stands out for its flexible plans that allow you to choose the most suitable option for your organization.

This way, you can choose the appropriate option among the three choices: SMOWL CLASS, SMOWL PLUS, and SMOWL PRO. Let’s explain them below:

SMOWL CLASS

SMOWL CLASS is an innovative tool that allows organizations to conduct in-person exams and assessments through a computer.

The solution employs various techniques to guarantee assessment integrity, including monitoring user activity and restricting access to certain computer functions.

SMOWL PLUS

SMOWL PLUS is an exam proctoring solution that goes beyond SMOWL CLASS by incorporating webcam monitoring. This enables organizations to verify participants’ identities during registration, access to the exam, and throughout the entire test.

With SMOWL PLUS, organizations can be sure that the person taking the test is indeed who they claim to be and that they are conducting the exam with integrity. The solution uses a combination of artificial intelligence and biometric control to detect any attempts at cheating or fraud.

SMOWL PRO

SMOWL PRO is the most comprehensive and flexible exam proctoring solution on the market. It offers a wide range of features and options allowing organizations to customize the solution to their needs.

One of the standout features of SMOWL PRO is the ability to set up 360º Supervision. This means that organizations can use a smartphone or tablet to capture a 360-degree view of the environment in which the exam is taking place. 

This can help detect any attempts at cheating or fraud, such as using prohibited devices or communicating with other participants.

Another prominent feature of SMOWL PRO is the option for human supervision for certain types of exams. This means that a human supervisor can monitor the exam in real-time and take action if necessary.

SMOWL PRO is the perfect exam proctoring solution for organizations seeking a complete and flexible solution that adapts to their specific needs. It is user-friendly and can be personalized to suit the specific needs of each organization.

What is Respondus?

Respondus or SMOWL, which is the best proctoring software?

Unlike Respondus, SMOWL’s proctoring plans offer more options to adapt to the needs and circumstances of each institution.

Not only that, but SMOWL also provides more functionalities to adapt to each type of exam.

In summary: SMOWL allows you to adapt the proctoring tool to your type of exam, rather than adapting your exam to the proctoring tool.

Block or gather evidence?

Respondus’s main tool is its Respondus LockDown Browser® , which requires additional installation. It does not adapt to users’ current browsers (such as Chrome or Firefox) but requires the download and installation of this software.

Respondus blocks all unauthorized tabs, programs, or actions during an exam with this browser.

On the other hand, SMOWL offers the same functionalities through a simple extension with SMOWL LOCK, without any additional installation on the computer.

If the institution desires a less restrictive approach, SMOWL CM (Computer Monitor) is a superior tool to Respondus Monitor (which also installs alongside Respondus LockDown Browser® ). 

Why?

Primarily due to its customization options. SMOWL CM allows you to tailor the tool to your institution’s pedagogical methodology.

With SMOWL CM, you can parameterize the applications, programs, and actions you want to allow your users to use. You can also establish those that you want to receive a warning about after the evaluation is completed.

This allows you to gather comprehensive evidence and make more informed decisions.

“Respondus doesn’t allow me to open other applications during the exam.”

Many users who take exams with this type of software encounter this issue. What if there are some applications that the institution wants to allow users to use during their activity?

With Respondus, that is currently not possible.

Respondus or SMOWL, which is the best proctoring software?

Respondus vs SMOWL for slower connections

Another major concern for many companies and institutions is their users’ network capability. 

Digital evaluations are much more accessible but also require a minimum internet connection.

Respondus Monitor and SMOWL supervise users via their webcam in this aspect.

The difference lies in the fact that, in the case of Respondus, this monitoring is done through video capture, while SMOWL captures images or frames every few seconds.

The latter option is much more suitable for internet connections with limited reach, such as those in rural or geographically challenging areas.

Which one has better support?

There are few doubts here. SMOWL has one of the best-rated customer support teams in the industry. Both evaluators and examinees have support from the initial installation to the moment of carrying out the activities.

Additionally, the team is prepared to handle inquiries in both Spanish and English.

Respondus, on the other hand, only offers international support in English.

Conclusion: Which option to choose?

After this comprehensive guide, the main differences between Respondus and SMOWL have become clearer to you.

In any case, we understand that comparing different options is always a challenge. To assist you further, we have provided a small comparative table to see the main differences between the two easily:

FunctionalitySMOWLRESPONDUS
Need to install applicationNOYES
Compatibility with various browsersYESNO, only Respondus LockDown Browser®
Customer supportYESYES
360º SupervisionYESNO
Analytics and reporting platformYESNO
CustomizationYESNO
Human supervisionYESNO
Computer supervisionYESNO

If you want more information about these two tools, a detailed comparison, or if you simply want to see if SMOWL can adapt to your institution’s needs, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we will provide you with access to a free demo.


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