Digital Learning & Design

If quizzes and exams are an important element of your course, you have options for administering them online as well.

Keep in mind that while the online learning environment has analogies to the physical classroom, there are important differences. For certain functions, there isn’t an online option that completely replicates the classroom experience. One example is the proctored exam. As a practical matter, we cannot guarantee that a student taking an online exam isn’t getting help, especially from another device. There are exam configuration techniques that make cheating difficult, but none that eliminates the possibility entirely. 

Reconsider assessments

Instead of a proctored test, for example, you might have them engage in an online discussion, work on a group project, or write a paper—all options in Canvas assignments. If teaching online is of short duration, consider making online assessments lower stakes than in-class assessments.


Below are descriptions of several online learning tools for administering quizzes and exams. We recommend you go with what you know first, especially if you don’t have time to invest in learning a new tool and instructing your students in its use. 

Brown’s learning management system (LMS) has an easy-to-use, built-in quiz tool. This can be used for objective and subjective question types, with the former automatically graded by Canvas. Grading is done in Speedgrader. Some of the quiz features include:

  • 11 question types

  • Programmed feedback

  • Rich text, images, video in questions/prompts

  • Question grouping

  • Questions reused across your courses

  • Assign quizzes to individuals or the whole class

  • Moderation (allow additional attempts for individuals)

  • Availability window

  • Time limit

  • Randomize questions and/or answers

  • One question at a time

  • Question lock after answering

Faculty looking to administer high-stakes exams may opt for Top Hat Test, which provides some level of exam security with a lock-out feature.  While Top Hat Test works best in a face-to-face environment, faculty can administer a Top Hat Test virtually, and keep track of students’ browser engagement through the live Proctor Report. 

Advantages of Top Hat Test include: 
  • 9 question types, including formula answers

  • Automatic grading for multiple choice questions

  • Randomize question order

  • Customizable lock out settings based on browser and screenshot activity

  • PDF export of exam questions

  • Canvas integration that allows for grade sync

  • Unique test code for students to enter the exam

Points to consider:
  • To use Top Hat Test, faculty must first have their Top Hat Account set up and synced with their Canvas site.

  • Create a top level folder that will hold the exam to make for easy Canvas sync later

  • Faculty are encouraged to write clear instructions on the exams so students know the expectations.

  • At the start of the exam, faculty must clearly communicate the unique test code to students, preferably through a Canvas Announcement with limited availability.

  • Be sure to end the exam when the time limit for administering the exam has been met. 

Gradescope is an assignment submission, grading, and analytics platform that leverages AI and a logical UI workflow to make grading more efficient and standardized. It is a stand-alone tool that can integrate with Canvas to synchronize course rosters and grades. Gradescope can accept instructor-scanned handwritten submissions from an in-class exam or submissions from students taking the exam remotely. 


  • No more paper submissions: Students can scan and upload handwritten assignments directly to Gradescope.
  • Online Assignments (beta) Create auto-graded questions directly in Gradescope and eliminate the need for students to scan their answers and submit. 
  • AI Grouping: Gradescope can attempt to group student answers for certain answer types (multiple choice, math, and short answer). Once answers are grouped, graders need only grade submissions per group rather than every student. 
  • Dynamic rubrics: Grading rubrics are created as part of the grading process. These rubrics are shared across all graders. Any updates to the rubric will apply to all submissions. 
  • Easily handle regrade requests: Instructors can allow students to request regrades for specific questions. This ability can be toggled on or off.
  • Grade by question rather than student: The gradescope user interface presents student work by question rather than by student. This means that graders will grade one (or more) question(s) across the entire class instead of all questions for a subset of students.
  • Posting grades: Instructors can release grades to students with one click. Grades can also be posted to Canvas.


  • Double assignment creation: In order for Gradescope to post scores to Canvas, instructors must create corresponding assignments in both Gradescope and Canvas. 
  • AI and assignment limitations: to receive the full benefit from Gradescope's AI, assignments must be constructed with a template. If student submissions do not match the layout of the original instructor template, the AI will fail. 

For information on setting up your Gradescope courses, see this knowledge base article. For new Gradescope users, please email to arrange a consultation.