Safe Exam Browser – Tighter Moodle Integration

22 July 2020 by Dmitrii Metelkin

Catalyst is proud to announce a new milestone in our ongoing partnership with the Moodle project. Moodle is the world’s leading Learning Management System (LMS), as well as being an open source software success story. It’s used everywhere from primary school’s in the developing world to some of the most prestigious Universities in Europe and North America.

Safe Exam Browser (SEB) is another great piece of open source educational technology. It was born from the need to be able to let students complete e-assessements safely and to restrict their access to other online materials during the period of an e-assessment (i.e. exam) – it’s akin to what Windows users might know as “kiosk mode”. SEB is typically configured to connect to an LMS system that is delivering the assessment/test/exam to students. Like all the best software, SEB is free and open.

More and more of our clients are using SEB with their Moodle to deliver online assessment to their student cohorts. With the current level of lockdown that many higher education providers are facing, this is a very relevant education technology toolset.

Thanks to our recent collaboration with ETH Zürich, Bern University of Applied Sciences and Moodle HQ, it’s now easier to deliver online assessments with Safe Exam Browser and Moodle LMS. These two software powerhouses are even more closely paired together.

As of June 2020 (release Moodle 3.9) global educators will have access to a deeper integration between Safe Exam Browser and Moodle core.

Specifically, Moodle has a new quiz access rule plugin – quizaccess_seb – that aids teachers when configuring their quizzes to be delivered in the securely locked environment via SEB.

The main features: (full list here):

  • restriction of access to quiz by SEB config key
  • restriction of access to quiz by browser exam keys
  • Moodle administrators can now prepare SEB configuration templates for teachers to use when delivering quiz
  • teachers have the option of manual SEB configuration or uploading a prebuilt SEB configuration
  • each of the SEB settings has a related permission set to give administrators more granular access control
  • students taking a quiz with SEB can now be mandated to reconfigure their browser as required
  • a configurable link to trigger the download of the required SEB version.

The feedback from the Catalyst developers who worked on the team was that this project allowed the team to be part of the collaboration that happens at all parts of the open source software development community.

Discussions started in Dec 2018 with ETH Zürich and then over 2019 Bern and Moodle HQ joined the discussions. We worked through some scoping, user stories and wireframes and the active development went from Oct, 2019 until April, 2020.

For Catalyst IT this was an opportunity to work for great organisations, contributing to open source solutions that benefit many. This is one of the great perks of working for Catalyst.

If you are not quite ready for upgrading to 3.9? You can still use the plugin in your 3.7 or 3.8 Moodle. We've made it available in the Moodle plugins directory.

Some Links:

Want to take the chance to thank fellow Catalyst developers Matt Porritt, Andrew Madden and Nic Hoobin for your contributions here. As always, delivering top shelf code.