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  1. 1. IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning 2007 ENHANCING THE EXAMINATION PROCESS IN UNIVERSITIES WITH TRANSPARENT RFID IDENTIFICATION 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 ABSTRACT 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. KEYWORDS RFID, examination, identification, location, university. 1. INTRODUCTION 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. 155
  2. 2. ISBN: 978-972-8924-36-2 © 2007 IADIS 2. THE TRADITIONAL EXAMINATION PROCESS Traditionally, the process of examination in UNED implied that the teacher had the responsibility of the preparation and photocopy of the exams forms, introducing them into envelops. Then these envelops were classified by faculties and were introduced into the packets that were sent to every examination center using transport agencies. Once the exam forms were there, they were again reclassified by the examination court. Once, the examination has started, the students are identified with their student card and placed in a suitable chair in the room. When the exam has finished each student gives it to the examination court, who verifies again the identity of the student comparing the student card with the information of the exam form. At the end of the week the exam forms are again introduced into envelops, classified by faculties, packaged and sent to the University to be corrected. 3. USING RFID IDENTIFICATION The results of this traditional process is not enough to satisfy the UNED requirements, because, it is necessary, on the one hand, to control the entrance and exit of students, and on the other hand, to satisfy the requirement of introducing 2000 students in 30 minutes in the classroom, printing the exams and finding the most suitable chair for the student, in order to avoid cheating. The fact of knowing where to place each student becomes very important because in each exam session can be done exams of different subjects. The new system has simplified all these processes, improving and securing all with guarantees. The new process consists of a digitalized copy of the exam form introduced in a CD with the suitable identification data. The CD and security key is given to the examination court that will transport it to the examination place. When the student goes to a classroom to be examined, is identified thanks to a long reach readers placed at the entrance and a passive RFID tag incorporated in the student card (Martín 2006). This process can be seen in the figure 1. Figure 1. Controlling the access and exit to an examination room with RFID technologies. Every student has a student card with a RFID tag that identifies them thanks to a long reach RFID readers placed at the entrance of the room. Although the implantation of the RFID system improves considerably the traditional process, new problems appear in the new scenario, one of them is known as the “ghost student”. In some cases, a student can enter in the exam room without RFID tag, not being detected by the system, creating serious problems of management of exams. In order to solve this problem the system controls that every student have a tag thanks to an infrared sensor that detects the entrance or exit of people in the room. If the infrared sensor detects the entrance of someone, an RFID tag must be read in less than one second identifying the student that enters in the room. In the case of the activation of the sensor without receiving any student ID, an alarm is shown in a screen, alerting to the responsible staff. “Identity fraud” is another possible incident that happens when a student enters in the room with a student card of other student. In this case, the problem is solved showing a photo of the student in a screen at the entrance. If the responsible staff noticed that the photo don’t match with the student face, a more deeply inspection is made in order to ensure the student identity. When the student has been correctly located and identified, the system will find the most suitable chair to place him, so he will not able to copy from the neighbor’s exams. Finally, the system will print a personalized exam form for the student in a pool of fast printers, being created in real time depending on the 156
  3. 3. 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 session. 4. ARCHITECTURE 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. 5. SECURITY 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. 157
  4. 4. ISBN: 978-972-8924-36-2 © 2007 IADIS Cryptographically-enabled tags typically have dramatically higher cost and power requirements than simpler equivalents, for that reason, in the prototype of this project has been chosen simple passive RFID tags, that will contain an ID, the student number, valid only in the UNED environment and ciphered using a public-key protocol. The result of the encoding process is a string of bits that will only be deciphered by the private key, stored in the server. In the case of a fraudulent change of the ID of the tag in order to supplant an identity, the system will continue working properly, thanks to the human control that the student must pass to enter in the examination room, matching his face with the face shown on the screen. 6. CONCLUSION This paper presents the work done to improve the examination capacity of the universities. Specially for the universities with a high number of students that have to ensure the entrance to an examination room in a short period of time. The application of the RFID technologies to the university environment provide a more secure and effective examination process, reducing the waiting time to access the class and identifying the students that enter and exit of the examination room in real time. The RFID user identification can be also used in others environments as hospitals, commercial centers, museums or in every business where the improvement of the care provided to the customers becomes important. One of the main advantages of the implantation of this system in UNED is related with the reduction of human resources required in the new scenario, which supposed a high economic charge. Now no staff is required to classify the exam forms and no agency is necessary to transport the exams to the examination centers. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The authors would like to acknowledge the Spanish Science and Education Ministry and the Spanish National Plan I+D+I 2004-2007 the support for this paper as the project TSI2005-08225-C07-03 "MOSAICLearning: Mobile and electronic learning, of open code, based on standards, secure, contextual, personalized and collaborative". REFERENCES Castro, M. et al, 2006. New Project on Secure Education Services for On-Line Learning. San Juan (Puerto Rico): 9th International Conference on Engineering Education. Martín, S. et al, 2006. Ubiquitous and biometric applications on distance education. An alternative to the traditional examination. Alcalá de Henares (Spain): I International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing: Applications, Technology and Social Issues, 39-42. 158