Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How to prevent students from copying or printing tests in Blackboard

Important note: There is no 100% reliable way to prevent the copying or printing of any web page being displayed in a browser, on the Blackboard site or any other site, as it is always possible on any computer to print a copy of the screen, capture the window to the clipboard, or even take a digital photograph of the screen and print it. The script offered here may prevent the casual printer/copier from copying the text of a test, but it will not stop anyone who is purposefully determined to copy or print the content from doing so.

Please see KNOWN ISSUES at the bottom of this page (e.g. issue with hotspot questions).

If you would like to disable the ability of students to select/copy their online tests or to print their tests, follow these directions.

1. In an existing test, click Modify to modify the first question of the test

2. Click the expand arrow in the upper left hand corner of the text box

3. Click the html button

4. Copy the following javascript code and paste it at the bottom, after the text of the first question.

<script language="Javascript"
<style type="text/css">@media print {BODY {display:none}}</style>

5. Click Submit

6. Click Submit

Do not include this script in a question that is in a Pool, as it will cause problems. Only include this script in a created test.

What it Does
The script disables the ability of a user to select text, making it impossible to copy the question text. It also makes it so the body of the test can not be printed. If a student tries to print the test, they will only receive pages with Blackboard's top menu bar printed on them. Note: this script is somewhat old, and was only tested in previous versions of browsers, such as Internet Explorer Version 6, Netscape 7.1, and Mozilla Firefox 1.6. It is not guaranteed to work in new browsers (IE 7,8, Firefox 3.x, Google Chrome).

Notes / Recommendations
We recommend that you test this script each time you use it in a test. Preview the assessment, and try all of the functionality of the script. You should not be able to click and drag your mouse to select text, nor should the "select all" function work. If you try printing, you should not receive the body of the test itself on the printed page.

This script is not 100% foolproof and may not stop the more computer savvy from copying/printing your test.


1. The script will not allow students to cancel a test submission and return to the test questions. If a student clicks the Submit button on a test and then clicks Cancel to cancel the submission, the test is submitted anyway.

2. This script disables the students' ability to click on "hotspot" questions on tests. If you are using this script, students will not be able to answer any hotspot questions on your exam.


Thanks to the folks at Boise State University for this tip.

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