Does Canvas Track Tabs: Monitor Open Browsers or Switch?

Does Canvas Track Tabs

Does Canvas Track Tabs

If you are not sure about how online learning and testing tools work, then you might have several burning questions. One of the common ones among students is if the tools can monitor open browsers or switch to a new tab.

In this article, we will explore in detail if Canvas, one of the most popular online testing tools, can monitor the switching of tabs or opening of other browsers. Before that, it is good that we understand what canvas is.

Canvas is a web-based learning management system that is used to access and manage online courses by instructors, students, and institutions. Learning resources for students are made available on Canvas by instructors who have total control of them.

Also, Canvas is commonly used to administer online tests, something that has been on the rise since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak that disabled face-to-face class sessions.

Does Canvas Track Tabs

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Canvas cannot track tabs. It does not notice when a student opens a new tab during the test. Also, it cannot detect when the student opens a new web browser or application during the test.

Ideally, the only thing that the instructor can tell during a Canvas quiz or test is that there is no activity or interaction on the page.

Therefore, the instructor can tell that you may have left the page but cannot know the page that you have opened.

It is because instructors could not view the pages students have opened or establish the cause of no interaction on the exam page that led to the development of tools to solve the problem. These tools are known as lockdown browsers.

Canvas can detect and track tabs if used together with lockdown browsers that help professors view general interactions that you have had with websites.

The number of pages visited and the number of times they were visited are visible to professors too.

Also, the general time frame on the opened tabs is provided together with details of any files that may have been downloaded on the sites.

Lockdown browsers flag any suspicious attempts to open new tabs and make sure that you are returned to the page that has exam questions.

As a result, lockdown browsers have helped curb the increasing trend of cheating in online examinations and quizzes.

Reasons Why Canvas Cannot Track Your Tabs

Without the use of Lockdown browsers, Canvas does track your tabs for the following reasons.

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1. Failure to Flag Suspicious Activity

When Canvas is operating on a normal browser it cannot detect suspicious activity and flag it.

The only thing that the instructor can tell is if there is no interaction on the page which cannot lead to the conclusion that the student is cheating.

2. It is Not a Lockdown Browser

Canvas cannot detect cheating because it is not a lockdown browser. When you are using Canvas and want to ensure that students don’t cheat, you will have to install a lockdown browser such as the Respondus monitor to help you supervise the exam.

It is due to this reason that Canvas has a link that leads to the Respondus lockdown browser download

3. The Main Aim is to Connect Instructors and Students and Promote Online Learning

Canvas was made to make sure that online learning is enhanced through interactions between professors and students. Notes can be shared with students and exams administered with ease.

In exams, canvas locks in students’ answers in seconds and ensures that there is a set time for completion.

In the general Canvas setup, there is not much done to ensure that cheating in online exams does not happen.

Technical Requirements for An App to Track Your Browser and Tabs

For an app to track your browser and tabs, it will need the following:

Web-Monitoring Tools

exam proctoring

The web-monitoring tools enable you to track browsing activity on different internet pages.

These tools are non-intrusive and run in stealth mode without letting web users know that their systems or activities are being tracked.

These tools capture the URLs of every website visited and have a reporting utility that generates graphical and tabular reports.

IP Tracker

Every internet connection has an IP tracker which can be used to reveal the browser you are using and the location you are at.

An IP tracker can not only approximate the location of a user but also reveal how people interact with different web pages.

Tracking Cookie

A tracking cookie is a file that stores data and can identify users when they visit different pages on a website.

Also, the cookie can track the user across different websites. First-party, third-party, and session-tracking cookies all serve different purposes.

First-party cookies track users only when they are active on a particular site, third-party cookies track users on multiple domains, and session cookies are temporary ones that store data for a single session.

Importance of Tracking Browser Tabs to Prevent Cheating

The use of tracking browser tabs to prevent cheating is of great importance. Some of the notable benefits include:


Through the tracking of browser tabs, students can do exams successfully out of class. Teachers do not have to be worried that students will cheat during online exams.

The burden of administering face-to-face exams is reduced and the assessment of students is made easier.

This is suitable for students who cannot make it to classes during normal working hours and therefore increases the intake in different course

Easy Reviewing of Tests

It is usually a daunting task to review exams that are done on paper and detect whether students cheated or not. With tracking browsers reviewing tests is easy because cheating is minimized.

Any irregularity is flagged because professors can access the tabs that the students opened and conclude whether they cheated in the exam or not.

Increases Confidence in Online Learning and Testing

Most instructors are usually against online teaching and testing because they believe that students will cheat in the quizzes provided.

However with easy tracking of browser tabs professors have a way of detecting whether students cheated or not.

Therefore, this technology has gradually increased the confidence and reliability of online testing among instructors.

Can Canvas Track the Following:

browser tracking

IP Address

Canvas cannot detect IP addresses. Instead, it only tracks activity on its platform.

Any behavior on the platform will be tracked and detected but any other activity outside it will not be detected.

Computer activity

Canvas does not track computer activities unless it is proctored. Through proctoring tools such as Respondus, Canvas can track, disable, and limit computer activity. Activities such as switching tabs and copy-pasting are monitored to reduce cheating


Screenshots cannot be detected by Canvas during online exams. However, with the help of the exam proctoring tool, screenshots during the tests can be detected, disabled, and restricted.

Any shortcuts and third-party applications that support screenshotting on the student’s computer are also disabled.

On top of that, the student’s screen is recorded. Therefore, any suspicious activity is effectively noted.


Canvas cannot detect webcams but uses third-party proctoring tools to do so. These proctoring tools use the webcam to record the student’s data in both video and audio.

This helps notice any suspicious activity by the students and can also be used by the instructor for future reference.


Canvas detects plagiarism through the use of Unicheck which links to an external site. This tool available on Canvas allows students and instructors to check for plagiarism in papers.

The Unicheck option should be allowed on Canvas assignments to make it available for use. It generates a plagiarism report that should be accessed and analyzed by students and instructors.

Can Canvas notify if you switch browsers or Tabs?

Canvas cannot notify when a user switches tabs within a web browser because it cannot directly monitor browser activities. However, there are indirect ways that a website utilizing Canvas could potentially detect tab switching.

One key concern to note here is that detecting tab switching or browser focus changes can be considered intrusive from a user privacy perspective.

Modern web browsers often implement measures to prevent websites from accessing certain information about the user’s browsing behavior for privacy and security reasons.

How Canvas can detect switching browsers or Tabs

1. Visibility API

This is an API that provides events and methods to determine when a webpage is in focus, hidden, or in the background.

2. Animation and Performance Events

These are performance-related events to that can be used to detect changes in browser focus.

For instance, if there is a change in the performance of canvas animation due to the browser activity, the website may conclude that the user switched tabs in the browser.

3. User Interaction Events

This involves detecting user interactions such as keypresses or clicking to infer that one switched tabs.

However, this is speculative and may not provide accurate information because users can click or press keys for many other reasons.