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Community Member

copy and paste

One of the reasons I stay away from any online assignments, quizzes, etc... in my Spanish classroom is the ability for students to copy the text and paste it into a translation site.  When you purchase an online textbook, the "copy and paste" ability is blocked.  Is there a way to block that on Canvas?

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

One (tedious) option would be to create the test this way:

  1. Type the question in a word processor such as Microsoft Word.
  2. Take a screenshot of the question and save it as an image.
  3. Place the image as the question.

Then they can't copy and paste the text because it is actually an image file.


I think I will make this suggestion to our Spanish teacher and have him test it out to see if it helps. Thanks for the suggestion.


Thank you because I am very frustrated right now, as a Spanish teacher. I

would love an easy way to be able to use canvas, without worrying of copy

and paste.

On Friday, August 7, 2015, <


Just writing to sympathize--I've run into the same problem with other types of questions that are easy to search for, e.g., "What year was the Norman invasion?"

One assignment that I used to give supplied an English loanword in its originating alphabet, then asked students to transliterate the word into our (Roman) alphabet, then sound it out and provide the regular spelling of the word in English. After getting a lot of the same wrong answers, I realized that they were using Google translate as a shortcut. I then tested all the words ahead of time and included only those that Google gives the wrong answer for. (e.g., rather than translating "cпутник" as "Sputnik" it would instead return "satellite"). That workaround was fine on a temporary basis, but Google can adjust its translations at any time. Besides, it's hardly a solution for a foreign language class! I wish I had thought of posting the words as images, as suggested. My students could still have typed the words into the translator but having to type in a different alphabet would have slowed them down at least.

Anyway, these days I mostly write assessment questions that can't be answered via Google + copy/paste. Those sorts of questions can be tough to write and to grade. It's a shame because there is some value in learning basic facts, and if I were testing f2f, I'd try to have some questions at all levels of Bloom's taxonomy, not just the higher levels, but I haven't found a better option.

I haven't tried the LockDown browser because my students aren't testing in a lab/classroom so they could always use phones or whatever.

I don't know what I'd do if I were teaching Spanish. Maybe, in addition to using images, you could give some questions via audio instead of in writing? But there are apps that translate audio, so maybe that wouldn't help. Good luck!



On Friday, August 7, 2015, <>

Community Coach
Community Coach​,

We actually use Respondus LockDown Browser at my school for a lot of the more sensitive test taking.  It is not free, but is prevents copying and pasting and will not allow anything else to be open on the computer.


Community Member

This is such an interesting topic of discussion. You can attempt to block students from looking up answers and even achieve some level of success, but there will almost always be workarounds. What makes it interesting though is how the challenge turns in to an opportunity for rethinking the typical assessment. One example for foreign language would be to incorporate audio or video submissions. You can tell a lot more from one of these than you can from the results of a matching or multiple choice question. Not only can you hear or see if they looked something up you can hear their pronunciation or see if they are struggling making a certain sound. Once you're able to add all these layers to the assessment you have the opportunity to worry less about whether or not they looked it up because then they had to go on to pronounce it or use it in a sentence as well. I've heard from some of my faculty who have tried this that some of the unexpected consequences were quite surprising. Things like hearing students talk themselves through a problem, try something multiple times until they get it right, hearing or seeing something personal about the student that made the faculty get a brief insight into what was going on in the student's life that was contributing to or detracting from their learning. It's a really interesting world we're living in...

If you just specifically need to block copy and paste I think​'s solution was the best one though.


I like your line of thinking, i.e., move away from conventional type assignment/test formats and find ways to engage the students in ways that involve them at deeper levels that are not easy to game (such as the audio or video submissions). The challenge is that developing such assignments and evaluating them are much more time consuming. At the university level, administrators generally have at best a superficial appreciation to the time required. In my finance courses, I've resorted to online textbooks (as Rachel mentioned) with McGraw-Hill that have assignment and test resources and randomization tools. This has proven fairly effective at assuring that students do their own work. However, template problems and test banks limit you to what the folks who developed those resources think are important and may be poorly suited for engaging students in ways that help them learn best. One of the most thought-provoking points about Adam's suggestion is that it shows that methods that work so well in a face-to-face course may still be useable (using the appropriate technology) for an online course.


Thank you!  I already do other types of assessments but our corporation wants us to use Canvas to assess the kids.  Obviously I am not using this for all assessments but I have stayed away from digital assessments because of the translation apps.  I actually had a great online assessment for the kids to do and within 30 seconds, a student raised her hand and said, "Señora, google is asking if I would like google to translate this page."   AHHHHHH!!  I

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