IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning 2007
ENHANCING THE EXAMINATION PROCESS IN
UNIVERSITIES WITH TRANSPARENT RFID
Sergio Martín, Rosario Gil, Gabriel Díaz, Juan Peire, Manuel Castro
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Spanish University for Distance Education (UNED)
Juan del Rosal, 12. Ciudad Universitaria. 28040 Madrid SPAIN
José Bravo, Ramón Hervas
Castilla La-Mancha University
Paseo de la Universidad, 4. 13071 Ciudad Real SPAIN
The application of RFID technologies to the university environment provides a more secure and effective examination
process reducing the waiting time for accessing the class and identifying the students that enter and exit the examination
room in real time. The implantation of these technologies in the examination process will enable the following
improvements: increase the throughput of students, personalize the exam forms for every student in real time and select
an appropriate chair to each student. These systems are particularly useful for universities with a high number of students
that have to ensure the access to an examination room in a short period of time.
RFID, examination, identification, location, university.
Nowadays, the distributed and distance education model applied in UNED (Spanish University for Distance
Education) requires new technologies to deal with the challenge of educating more than 200,000 students
every year in more than 15 countries.
A relevant problem inside UNED is the examination process (Castro 2006). It is not carried out in the
faculties. UNED has more than 160 study centers’ distributed all over the world where students have to do
their exams two or three times a year. Sometimes one of these centers habilitated for examinations have to
receive more than two thousand students in half an hour, which causes that the infrastructures to make a
suitable entrance and exit of students are very difficult to manage. The possibility of being done several
subjects in the same exam season and the hour difference between some study centers’ make the examination
process more complex than it used to be. For that reason, every exam forms must be printed in real time
depending on the hour zone, the subject, and the student to avoid possible frauds. In addition, it is necessary
to control who enters and leaves the exam room to avoid a student leaves the room without hand in the exam.
The present paper is the result of the work done in UNED in order to improve this examination process,
creating an innovative system to control the entrance and exit of students at examination room, using RFID
technologies to identify the students.
IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning 2007
subject and the time. The student gathers the exam form where are his name, the subject, the designated place
for him and the day and time of entrance to the examination room. At the end of the exam process it is
necessary to attempt one more verification due to the fact that, sometimes, if the student is not satisfied with
the exam he could run out of the room without giving the exam to the exam court. To avoid this situation,
every time a student goes out of the room a certificate is printed automatically, putting record of the event, as
it can be seen in the figure 1. Finally, the system will register the delivery of the exams and will elaborate the
acts of the entire process.
Thanks to the use of RFID technologies instead of other identification methods, as bar codes or manual
identification, universities can afford the challenge of accepting a huge number of students in every exam
The system has been designed following a three layers architecture, with a first level in charge of the
communication with the peripherals, as alerts on the screen, exams printing or the reading of the infrared and
RFID sensors, as it can be seen in the figure 2.
Figure 2. Design of the system in three layers.
The second layer verifies that every time the infrared sensor is activated a student with a valid RFID tag is
passing through the RFID readers, and that the student ID appears in the students database. In order to avoid
identity fraud, ensuring that the student is not carrying the RFID tag of another student, the system will show
a photo of the student in the screen. Finally, the third layer contains the modules to access to the students and
exams databases. These databases are located in a CD and not in the hard-drive of the computer, ensuring
only read accesses to the data, that is encrypted to avoid not allowed accesses.
A primary security concern surrounding RFID technology is the illicit tracking of RFID tags. Tags which are
world-readable pose a risk to personal location privacy, for that reason, it is being used the cryptography to
prevent tag cloning. More sophisticated devices engage in challenge-response protocols where the tag
interacts with the reader. In these protocols, secret tag information is never sent over the insecure
communication channel between tag and reader. Rather, the reader issues a challenge to the tag, which
responds with a result computed using a cryptographic circuit keyed with some secret value. Such protocols
may be based on symmetric or public key cryptography.