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Pots pan final report

  1. 1. Document title: Jisc PotsPan Project Final ReportLast updated: May 20131Project Document Cover SheetPotsPan Project Final ReportProject InformationProject Acronym PotsPanProject Title Pilot of the SWANI Project Administrative NetworkStart Date 1stMay 1012 End Date 30thApril 2013Lead Institution Coleg Sir GârProject Director Dave HowellsProject Manager &contact detailsProfessor Tony Tooletony.toole@e-college.ac07964894790Coleg Sir Gâr, Graig Campus, Llanelli SA15 4DNPartner Institutions Pembrokeshire College, Swansea Metropolitan, The Prince’sTrust, PRP Training, JISC RSC WalesProject Web URL Project Website: http://potspan.pbworks.com/Project Blog: http://potspan.blogspot.co.uk/Programme Name(and number)JISC e-Learning Embedding BenefitsProgramme Manager Rob EnglebrightDocument NameDocumentTitleFinal ReportReportingPeriodMay 2012 – April 2013Author(s)& projectroleTony Toole, Project ManagerDate March 2013 Filename PotsPan Final ReportURL http://potspan.pbworks.com/w/file/63770491/PotsPan%20Final%20Report.docxAccessDocument HistoryVersion Date CommentsV1 19/02/2013 First DraftV2 27/03/2013 Second DraftV3 06/05/2013 Final Draft
  2. 2. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report2JISC Project Final ReportProject name: Pilot of the SWANI Project administrative network (PotsPan)Author: Tony TooleContact: tony.toole@e-college.acDate: May 2013ContentsAcknowledgements 21. Executive Summary 32. Background 43. Aims and Objectives 44. Methodology 45. Implementation 56. Outputs and Results 5Case Study 1: Coleg Sir Gâr 6Case Study 2: Swansea Metropolitan 7Case Study 3: Pembrokeshire College 87. Outcomes 98. Conclusions and Recommendations 9References and Appendices 10AcknowledgementsThe PotsPan Project was funded by JISC as part of the e-Learning Embedding BenefitsProgramme. The project team would like to thank Rob Englebright, the ProgrammeManager, and staff at RSC Wales for their support and assistance. We would also like tothank all those in the WBL teams in the partner institutions and in particular, the excellentwork by Lewis Jones who built the digitised WBL administration system.
  3. 3. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report31. Executive SummaryThe PotsPan (Pilot of the Swani Project administrative network) project was funded as partof the Jisc e-Learning Embedding Benefits Programme. The goal was to take the outcomesof the successful Swani (Secure Work-based learning through Networked Infrastructure)concept-proving project completed by Coleg Sir Gâr in 2012 and to pilot it more broadlyacross the regional partnership.The Jisc Swani Project created a digitised administrative and management documentationsystem for Work Based Learning in Wales that included a digital signature system thatsatisfied the audit requirements of the EU and the Welsh Government.The PotsPan project piloted the system with two of the partners in the Skills Academy WalesSouth Wales WBL consortium and also evaluated the approach in a partner University forpotential use in the administration of a new distance learning WBL programme.The purpose of the PotsPan project was to take what was a successful concept provingproject and develop it into a practical digitised WBL administrative system that would notonly satisfy the needs of the SWASW partnership, but would also be of value to otherinstitutions addressing similar issues.The broad aim of the PotsPan project was to implement the digitised online WBLadministrative system, created by the Swani project. The key objectives were to:Refine, update and test the WBL document management system to ensure it met theefficiency, usability and data consistency design requirements;Test and evaluate the system with cohorts of work based learners in the SAWSWpartnership;Explore the use of digital pens and electronic signatures as part of the WBLprogramme audit arrangements;Contribute to the European debate about digitised document management and theuse of electronic signatures for audit purposes.The outcomes of the PotsPan project led the project team to conclude that the work hadconfirmed the main benefits of administrative system digitisation:Digitisation of the administrative system eliminated the need for the repeated entry ofcore data and ensured data consistency;Digitisation made the entire administrative system available to programme managersat all times and from any location;The system delivered significant operational efficiencies, mainly from the avoidanceof physically transporting learner files between different geographical locations.The overall conclusion was that the PotsPan project had achieved its primary goal ofexploiting the benefits of the original Swani project and demonstrating its value and viabilityin the practical administration and management of the work-based learning programme inSouth West Wales. Furthermore, it was felt that the benefits were transferable to otherprogrammes with similar needs and hence contributed positively to the Jisc e-LearningProgramme Embedding Benefits objectives.
  4. 4. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report42. BackgroundThe JISC SWANI Project1successfully created a digitised administrative and managementdocumentation system for Work Based Learning in Wales that included a digital signaturesystem that satisfied the audit requirements of the EU and the Welsh Government.The PotsPan project piloted the system with two of the partners in the Skills Academy WalesSouth Wales WBL consortium and also evaluated the approach in a partner University forpotential use in the administration of a new distance learning WBL programme.The purpose of the PotsPan project was to take what was a successful concept provingproject and develop it into a practical digitised WBL administrative system that would notonly satisfy the needs of the SWASW partnership, but would also be of value to otherinstitutions addressing similar issues. In that context it directly contributed to the objectivesof the e-Learning Embedding Benefits programme.3. Aims and ObjectivesThe broad aim of the PotsPan project was to implement the digitised online WBLadministrative system, created by the Swani project. The key objectives were to:Refine, update and test the WBL document management system to ensure it met theefficiency, usability and data consistency design requirements;Test and evaluate the system with cohorts of work based learners in the SAWSWpartnership;Explore the use of digital pens and electronic signatures as part of the WBLprogramme audit arrangements;Contribute to the European debate about digitised document management and theuse of electronic signatures for audit purposes.4. MethodologyThe PotsPan project methodology followed a straightforward testing and evaluation processthat began with a period of system refinement at Coleg Sir Gâr where the documentmanagement system was hosted. The web designer and the project manager workedtogether to test each of the system functions and the usability of each of the forms, includinghow effectively they shared common data fields.Workshops were held at both Coleg Sir Gâr and Pembrokeshire College with the WBLteams that would be testing the system in the field. Each team selected an appropriatecohort of work based learners and completed a testing and evaluation exercise that involvedcompleting all the digitised versions of the administrative documents in parallel withcompleting the existing paper based versions. Each exercise concluded with a comparisonof the two approached with the aim of judging the relative advantages in terms of efficiencyand effectiveness. These comparisons would be presented in the form of case studies.An additional exercise was carried out at Swansea Metropolitan where the use of electronicsignatures was explored. It was felt that this solution for document verification would beeventually accepted by the EU for audit purposes, but that was not the case currently. Theexercise at Swansea Met, being unconstrained by EU rules, was designed to take thatagenda forward by testing and evaluating current electronic signature technologies and theirappropriateness for educational administration, particularly in the distance learning context.1http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/swaniltig/swani.aspx
  5. 5. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report55. ImplementationFollowing the usability testing exercise at Coleg Sir Gâr, the partner cohorts for the WBLimplementation testing and evaluation were chosen and the process begun. The paperbased administration forms were completed as normal and were then transcribed onto thedigital system. The ease with which this was completed was noted, as was the potentialsaving in time with the sharing of common data fields.A perception at the outset was that there were administrative processes, particularly with theregistration of new learners, for example, where multiple forms were completed by hand thatcontained the same information in terms of learner name, address, NI number etc. Ananticipated benefit was that the digitised system would only require these data fields to beentered once, would ensure data consistency and, where editing was needed at a later date,the edits would automatically update all forms that used that data.The testing of electronic signature usage at Swansea Metropolitan was focussed on thedevelopment of a distance learning version of a WBL programme delivered to the armedforces in Germany. Of particular interest was the use of such signatures to verify theauthenticity of written assessment materials submitted online.The outcomes of the testing were recorded using a common case study template for ease ofcomparison. The outcomes were also shared on the project blog and wiki and werepresented for wider dissemination at ALT-C and at the JISC Online Conference 2012.6. Outputs and ResultsThe Outputs and Results for the JISC PotsPan project included an updated and tested WBLDocument Management System, a number of Case Studies that detail the evaluation andtesting of that system, and a project Blog that provides a narrative account of how the projectevolved. The final output was this report that provides an overall summary of activities,achievements and deliverables.The primary deliverable was the JOOMLA based document management system that wasoriginally developed during the Swani project. As a result of the PotsPan testing andevaluation activities the presentation of the documents was refined and the efficiency andconsistency of data sharing was improved. The system can be viewed athttp://sawsw.colegsirgar.ac.uk/.Examples of the documents and the way they are presented are shown on the project blogat http://potspan.blogspot.co.uk/ and are available for download from the project Wiki athttp://potspan.pbworks.com.There were three structured testing and evaluation exercises planned as part of the PotsPanproject. Two of them were designed to test the document management system, and the useof the digital pens for audit purposes, with selected WBL cohorts at two of the partnerinstitutions. The third exercise explored the use of electronically signed documents, ratherthan digital pens, in the administration of a work based distance learning programme at athird partner institution.The outcomes are presented in the form of case studies. Single page summaries areincluded below and the full case studies are included as appendices and can be downloadedfrom the project Wiki.
  6. 6. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report6Case Study 1: Coleg Sir GârThe evaluation at Coleg Sir Gâr involved a group of modern apprentices at the TATA steelplant in Llanelli and the digitised administrative system was carried out in parallel with theexisting paper based system and the outcomes compared.SummaryThis pilot exercise took place at Tata Steel, Port Talbot and involved Functional Traineeswho are candidates on the NVQ Level 3 and VRQ Level 3 Business ImprovementTechniques Courses. The pilot period started in November 2012.The cohort chosen for this pilot exercise was made up of 2 groups of functional traineesstudying for an apprenticeship framework made up of an NVQ level 3 and a TechnicalCertificate (VRQ Level 3) in Business Improvement Techniques as well as the requirementsfor 5 specific units of Key Skills, which may have been achieved previously on anothercourse of study or would have to be integrated into the current qualification structure.The students attended tutorials and were supported by a Tutor/Assessor as well as havingreview sessions with an Advisor every 56 to 60 days. As well as this, a Mentor was identifiedfor each candidate at their place of work to support them in attaining the skills required intheir vocational area.This was carried out using 2 groups of Functional Trainees who had started their courses 4months apart. Group 2 had started their course of studies in October 2012 while Group 3started in January 2013.Therefore a wider variety of forms have been completed for Group 2 compared to Group 3.The success of the ‘pilot’ was dictated by the availability of the candidates to attend theirreview sessions which are planned for every 56 days, with a maximum 60 days betweenreviews.The most important forms for the ongoing process are the Review Forms and the ForwardLearning Plan which are completed every review session.Due to the logistical problems of using the Digital System on a regular basis during thereview sessions, because of lack of access to the internet system in the workplace, theexisting paper based system was used during these sessions.The information was then transferred to the digitised administration process at the college orat home, and the forms then taken back for the candidates to check the accuracy of theinformation, and on agreement, to sign the form with the digital pen.ConclusionsThe Digital System was a more organised and efficient system overall, than the existingpaper based system. The Digital Pen worked well. However to ensure that maximum benefitis achieved from the system it is vital that the system can be accessed directly when carryingout inductions and reviews on site in companies.The number of forms on the Digital system could be streamlined for simplicity because thesystem lends itself for dividing a form into different sections within a form.Full ReportThe full case study report can be viewed in Appendix A.
  7. 7. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report7Case Study 2: Swansea MetropolitanThe evaluation at Swansea Metropolitan was different to the other partners in that it exploredthe use of electronic signatures for audit documents rather than digital pens.SummaryThe contribution to be made by Swansea Metropolitan University as a partner in the JISCPotsPan project was to pilot the use of digital signatures with management andadministrative documents in the context of its merger with University of Wales Trinity SaintDavid during the project period. The intention was to explore the benefits of electronicsignatures on documents that needed to be shared on multiple sites, particularly with regardto the delivery of work-based learning.The importance of this pilot exercise was that it was not constrained by the EU requirementfor hand written signatures that led to the use of digital pens for the other pilot exercises. Itwas therefore an opportunity to explore the use and effectiveness of secure electronicsignatures on documents and how they could be used to authenticate digitallycommunicated administrative paperwork.The basic features of a secure electronic signature system are that it should be able toconfirm ownership of the document, that the signatory was authorised to sign the documentand that the document has not been changed since the signature was applied. Typically thesystem will also identify the computer used to create the document and will verify the dateand time the signature was added.A further element of security in the systems accepted by international finance and commerceis the use of a third party Certification Authority (CA) that generates encrypted public andprivate key certificates. The private key certificate is held on the owners’ computer andensures that the encrypted data includes verification information that is recognised by thereceiving computer(s) with the public key. If any aspect of the document and signaturesecurity is not verified, then a ‘not valid’ alert will be shown.Both commercial and open source document creation applications are available that includethe ability to add secure electronic signatures to documents and provide CA services. Anobjective in the PotsPan project was to identify the most cost effective solution for theinstitutions and this case study shows how open source solutions are both available andeffective.The pilot exercise created and tested a series of documents with secure electronicsignatures. These documents were sent electronically as attachments and uploaded toinstitutional websites and were shown to retain the encrypted data confirming signature anddocument validity.ConclusionsIt was concluded that the work confirmed that electronic signatures that authenticateddigitally transmitted administrative documents were achievable in a cost effective way andthat met commercially accepted levels of verification and security. It is believed thatelectronic signatures will eventually become acceptable for EU audit purposes and allow afully digitised online administrative system to be implemented.Full ReportThe full case study report can be viewed in Appendix B.
  8. 8. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report8Case Study 3: Pembrokeshire CollegeThe evaluation at Pembrokeshire College was also planned to involve a group of work basedlearners registered through SAWSW and supported by staff at the college. However, therewere technical and operational problems that prevented the completion of the exercise.Nonetheless, useful lessons were learned.SummaryThe exercise at Pembrokeshire College began with two workshops, one at Coleg Sir Gârinvolving WBL management staff and the other at Pembrokeshire College that included staffresponsible for WBL learner support.On both occasions the two key benefits of the digitised document management system wererecognised and welcomed. These being the significant saving in data entry time by thesharing of core data fields across all the administrative forms, and the information madeavailable to central management about the whole delivery system at any point in time.It was agreed that a similar exercise to that at Coleg Sir Gâr would be carried out. A cohortof students would be identified and they, their employers, and the training advisorsresponsible for their support would be registered on the system. Pembrokeshire College wasset up on the digitised administrative system as a training provider with the capacity to self-register advisors, employers and learners.Digital pens were supplied to the staff at Pembrokeshire College for the signing of forms andthe digital recording of those signatures. It was at this point that technical barriers toprogress began to emerge. For the pens to be used, the software for the creation of thedigital version of the forms, and the printing of the dot pattern for the hard copy versions, hadto be downloaded and installed. This proved to be highly problematic, possibly due to thesecurity restrictions imposed by the institutional computer network.This was not a problem experienced by Coleg Sir Gâr, but it does demonstrate how systemsneed to be accommodated by different institutional security regimes for them to be usable byinstitutions generally.A workaround solution was still being developed during the time scheduled for the pilotexercise and, as a result, the pilot outcomes were not available for this project report.However, it is planned that the pilot will be completed and this report updated outside theproject period.ConclusionsIt was disappointing that the exercise experienced such difficulties in this instance, but it didemphasise the importance of ensuring compatibility when adopting third party applicationsfor inclusion in institutional software solutions.To some extent, the problems identified here reinforced the conviction that the real solutionto the problem was the acceptance of electronic signatures on documents. This wouldremove the need for the hardware interface of the digital pen and its associated software.It is interesting to note that a new innovation project involving the Welsh Government hasrecently been approved at Swansea Metropolitan with all three partners using electronicsignatures.Full ReportThe full case study report will be made available when the pilot exercise is completed andwill be added as Appendix C.
  9. 9. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report97. OutcomesIt is anticipated that the outcomes of the PotsPan project will have practical value, both forthe SAWSW WBL partnership, and for other groups looking for similar administrativeefficiencies using technology. However, there were certain compromises that needed to betaken for the project to achieve its objectives.The project took a pragmatic approach to the digitisation design, given the non-acceptanceby the EU of electronic signatures for audit purposes. Ideally, it would have preferred a fullyelectronic signature system to be accepted, but, given the current rules, it adopted the digitalpen as a compromise solution.This was not ideal as it still required paper versions of all the forms to be produced in orderfor them to be physically signed. It did allow, however, the entire system to be digitised whilststill satisfying EU requirements. This meant that the advantages of single data entry, dataconsistency and the ability for management to access the system online were achieved.This latter factor was perhaps one of the most important from a benefit point of view. Thepaper based system was managed by Training Advisors and the documentation distributedgeographically as a result. This was both a risk and made central management access todata very difficult.However, the goal of achieving an acceptable electronic signature solution remains. Theoutcomes of the PotsPan project are being disseminated with a view to contributing to andfurthering that debate. Presentations at Alt-C 2012 & the JISC Online Conference have beenpart of that agenda.8. Conclusions and RecommendationsThe outcomes of the PotsPan project led the project team to conclude that the work hadconfirmed the main benefits of administrative system digitisation:Digitisation of the administrative system eliminated the need for the repeated entry ofcore data and ensured data consistency;Digitisation made the entire administrative system available to programme managersat all times and from any location;The system delivered significant operational efficiencies, mainly from the avoidanceof physically transporting learner files between different geographical locations.However, the requirement for physical signatures on audit documents compromised the fullrealisation of those benefits and the project team remained committed to advancing thedebate and argument for full electronic signature recognition for EU funded programmes.The overall conclusion was that the PotsPan project had achieved its primary goal ofexploiting the benefits of the original Swani project and demonstrating its value and viabilityin the practical administration and management of the work-based learning programme inSouth West Wales. Furthermore, it was felt that the benefits were transferable to otherprogrammes with similar needs and hence contributed positively to the Jisc e-LearningProgramme Embedding Benefits objectives. However, it was recognised that problems canarise from using software solutions that are incompatible with institutional systems.The recommendations arising from the project outcome included:Noting that not only was a digitised administrative system beneficial from anefficiency point of view, but also from a cost effective viewpoint: the documentmanagement system used by the PotsPan being open source;Noting also that there were open source electronic signature systems available thatmet standard international security and authentication requirements;
  10. 10. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report10Recommending that the current EU debate about the acceptability of electronicsignatures be concluded, not only for educational audit purposes, but for advancingthe wider free market goals of the union.References and AppendicesAll the project documents and additional materials are referred to as links in the text of thisreport and/or are available on the project Wiki. For ease of access, the following links leaddirectly to the key project documents.1. PotsPan project Wiki: http://potspan.pbworks.com2. PotsPan project Blog: http://potspan.blogspot.co.uk3. Project Management:http://potspan.pbworks.com/w/page/53357624/Project%20Management4. The Digitised Administration System:http://potspan.pbworks.com/w/page/53357697/Digitised%20WBL%20Administration%20System5. The Case Studies:http://potspan.pbworks.com/w/page/53357795/Project%20DeliverablesAppendix A: Coleg Sir Gâr Case StudyPartner Institution: Coleg Sir GârDate: April 2013Case Study Title: Pilot of the SAWSW Digitised WBL System at TATA1. SummaryThis pilot exercise took place at Tata Steel, Port Talbot and involved Functional Traineeswho are candidates on the NVQ Level 3 and VRQ Level 3 Business ImprovementTechniques Courses. The pilot period started in November 20122. The Work-Based Learning ContextThe cohort chosen for this pilot exercise was made up of 2 groups of functional traineesstudying for an apprenticeship framework made up of an NVQ level 3 and a TechnicalCertificate (VRQ Level 3) in Business Improvement Techniques as well as the requirementsfor 5 specific units of Key Skills, which may have been achieved previously on anothercourse of study or would have to be integrated into the current qualification structure.The students attended tutorials and were supported by a Tutor/Assessor as well as havingreview sessions with an Advisor every 56 to 60 days. As well as this, a Mentor was identifiedfor each candidate at their place of work to support them in attaining the skills required intheir vocational area.3. The Pilot ExerciseThis was carried out using 2 groups of Functional Trainees who had started their courses 4months apart. Group 2 had started their course of studies in October 2012 while Group 3started in January 2013.Therefore a wider variety of forms have been completed for Group 2 compared to Group 3.The success of the ‘pilot’ was dictated by the availability of the candidates to attend theirreview sessions which are planned for every 56 days, with a maximum 60 days betweenreviews.The most important forms for the ongoing process are the Review Forms and the ForwardLearning Plan which are completed every review session.
  11. 11. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report11Due to the logistical problems of using the Digital System on a regular basis during thereview sessions, because of lack of access to the internet system in the workplace, theexisting paper based system was used during these sessions.The information was then transferred to the digitised administration process at the college orat home, and the forms then taken back for the candidates to check the accuracy of theinformation, and on agreement, to sign the form with the digital pen.4. The Pilot Outcomes4.1 The Digital WBL SystemThe forms that were relevant to the candidates at this particular stage of their course andapprenticeship were completed on a paper based system and transferred to the DigitalSystem.The initial forms were Information sheets with general data to do with employer, college andcourses, learner data and personal information.The forms that had to be filled in on a regular basis were the ‘Record of Review Form’ andthe ‘Forward Learning Plan’. The Digital system is a more organised and efficient systemthan the paper based equivalent but could be further improved in terms of the forms thathave to be filled in on a repetitive basis.The units being studied on the NVQ 3 and VRQ 3 which are listed on the Individual LearningPlan could be duplicated on the Record of Review and Forward Learning Plan so that thesedon’t have to be input repeatedly on these forms every review. This would enable theAdvisor to update information for the relevant units without having to input the unit title atevery review4.2 The Digital Pen SystemThe ‘fastdox’ system was registered so that the digital pen could be used on the relevantforms that required signatures. The special forms were printed using the ‘fastdox’ virtualprinter which adds dot patterns to documents and forms that will then accept signatures.The Digital Pen was tested on the Record of Review form and was successfully used by thecandidates and the provider. It was tested by 3 candidates (Samantha Williams, James Pettyand Thomas Courtney) during their review process. The candidates did not have anydifficulty using the pen on the specially prepared forms, and the information transferredsuccessfully to the software after the pen was docked in the cradle.The pen will eventually be used on other forms such as Individual Learning Plan, ForwardLearning Plan, Learning Activity Form, Induction Questionnaire and Workplace InductionChecklist.5. Conclusions and RecommendationsThe Digital System was a more organised and efficient system overall, than the existingpaper based system. The Digital Pen worked well. However to ensure that maximum benefitis achieved from the system it is vital that the system can be accessed directly when carryingout inductions and reviews on site in companies.The number of forms on the Digital system could be streamlined for simplicity because thesystem lends itself for dividing a form into different sections within a form. The LearnerInformation Form, Learner Eligibility Form, Learning Activity Form and Contract Agreement,for example, have very little detail on them.I feel that the system could go further to reduce repetitive input of information particularly onthe Record of Review Form. The units studied on the NVQ 3 and VRQ 3 could be previouslylisted on the Record of Review form so that these do not have to be repeated at everyreview.
  12. 12. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report12Appendix B: Swansea Metropolitan Case StudyPartner Institution: Swansea Metropolitan, University of Wales Trinity St DavidDate: January 2013Case Study Title: Electronic Signatures for Online Distance Learning DocumentAuthentication1. SummaryThe contribution to be made by Swansea Metropolitan University as a partner in the JISCPotsPan project was to pilot the use of digital signatures with management andadministrative documents in the context of its merger with University of Wales Trinity SaintDavid during the project period. The intention was to explore the benefits of electronicsignatures on documents that needed to be shared on multiple sites, particularly with regardto the delivery of work-based learning.The importance of this pilot exercise was that it was not constrained by the EU requirementfor hand written signatures that led to the use of digital pens for the other pilot exercises. Itwas therefore an opportunity to explore the use and effectiveness of secure electronicsignatures on documents and how they could be used to authenticate digitallycommunicated administrative paperwork.The basic features of a secure electronic signature system are that it should be able toconfirm ownership of the document, that the signatory was authorised to sign the documentand that the document has not been changed since the signature was applied. Typically thesystem will also identify the computer used to create the document and will verify the dateand time the signature was added.A further element of security in the systems accepted by international finance and commerceis the use of a third party Certification Authority (CA) that generates encrypted public andprivate key certificates. The private key certificate is held on the owners’ computer andensures that the encrypted data includes verification information that is recognised by thereceiving computer(s) with the public key. If any aspect of the document and signaturesecurity is not verified, then a ‘not valid’ alert will be shown.Both commercial and open source document creation applications are available that includethe ability to add secure electronic signatures to documents and provide CA services. Anobjective in the PotsPan project was to identify the most cost effective solution for theinstitutions and this case study shows how open source solutions are both available andeffective.The pilot exercise created and tested a series of documents with secure electronicsignatures. These documents were sent electronically as attachments and uploaded toinstitutional websites and were shown to retain the encrypted data confirming signature anddocument validity.It was concluded that the work confirmed that electronic signatures that authenticateddigitally transmitted administrative documents were achievable in a cost effective way andthat met commercially accepted levels of verification and security.2. The Work-Based Learning ContextSwansea Metropolitan based the electronic signature pilot exercise on plans for the onlinedistance learning delivery of logistics and transport training for British Forces stationed inGermany and other operational areas. The courses, validated by the Chartered Institute ofLogistics and Transport2, are currently delivered on-site by peripatetic tutors and areconsequently expensive to deliver. Online delivery would be much more cost effective, but2http://courses.independent.co.uk/training-provider/chartered-institute-of-logistics-transport-13079
  13. 13. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report13would require the authentication of work submitted online by the work based learners. Thiswould normally be in the form of assignments uploaded to the Swansea Metropolitan Moodlesite, accompanied by front sheets signed by an accredited local work-based mentor.The planning for the online distance learning version of the CILT course was carried out inparallel with another project funded under the Embedding Benefits strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme. The Dewi project3, led by Cardiff Metropolitan University, had theobjective of using the JISC WBL Maturity Toolkit4to assist in the design of WBL programmesin the partner institutions. At Swansea Metropolitan the exercise centred on the CILT onlinedelivery proposal5and hence fitted in well with the PotsPan pilot. A third project at SwanseaMetropolitan, again part of the the JISC Embedding Benefits programme, also contributed tothe pilot exercise. The was the Smudie project6which was using Enterprise Architecture andsimilar modelling techniques to plan improved student information management systems atthe university and thus also aligned well with the pilot exercise objectives.3. The Pilot ExerciseThe pilot exercise was carried out in three phases. The first was an initial research phasewhich explored the methods used to securely authenticate digitised documents and thesignatures that verified them in current global commerce and finance. This phase had thegoal of identifying established trusted practice that could be replicated in an educationalauthentication and audit context.Once established practice appropriate for educational use had been identified, the secondphase objective was to design an implementation plan that satisfied the academic qualityassurance requirements as well as optimising system cost effectiveness. This involvedexploring and testing appropriate implementation options and arriving at a solution that metboth conditions.The final phase of the pilot exercise was to implement, test and evaluate the chosen optionand to draw conclusions about future viability, sustainability and value in supporting futureonline distance learning for the institution. It was also hoped that the outcomes would be ofvalue to others in the sector considering similar issues.Phase 1: initial researchSecure electronic signatures are accepted for financial and business transactions globally7and virtually any level of security can be included in document management workflows.Adobe summarise the capability well in their introduction to the use of electronic signatures8using their Acrobat PDF authoring application:Digital signature capabilities allow authors to set up a secure signing environment and createsimple documents and complex forms with one or more fields. Document authors can designdocuments with multiple signature fields each with unique behavioural characteristics andappearances.A signed field can lock other fields so that signed data can’t be changed, and authors canforce certain signature fields to be a required part of a workflow. Attention to signature fielddesign and configuration can help make the document “do the right thing” when someonereceives it as well as control what that person can and cannot do with it.3http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/embeddingbenefits2012/dewi.aspx4http://wbltoolkit.pbworks.com/w/page/35396849/Home%20page%20-%20WBL%20Maturity%20Toolkit5http://swanseametwbl.pbworks.com/w/page/61324658/JISC%20Dewi%20Project%20Information%20and%20Documents6http://smudieprojectblog.blogspot.co.uk/7Toole, A. M. (2012) Making Your Mark – Digital Signatures. JISC Innovating e-Learning Online Conference. November 2012.8Adobe Systems Inc. (2011) Digital Signatures Enterprise User Guide. [online]. Available at: http://www.adobe.com/devnet-docs/acrobatetk/tools/DigSig/Acrobat_DigSig_WorkflowGuide.pdf
  14. 14. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report14Similarly, the Open Office suite of open source office applications includes the ability to adddigital signatures (and encrypt entire documents) in a secure way. They provide a number ofapplication scenarios9including one that is entirely relevant to this case study:Scenario: Education: Signing and encrypting documents in the education area isinteresting, because it can replace the paper process of correcting dissertations, etc.Students would send theirsigned dissertations to professors, who would make annotation, sign these annotation andsend thesigned document back to the student.Product Requirement 1: Sign Complete Open Office Documents;Product Requirement 2: Encrypt complete documents;Product Requirement 3: Protect content via password and allow to add annotations(comments) ortracked changes only;Product Requirement 4: Sign tracked changes or annotations.Both Adobe and Open Office enable degrees of security to be applied to their documentsand electronic signature systems that meet the authentication needs of the project. Thedifference between them is that Adobe is a commercial product and Open Office is an opensource software application and free to use.Secure and trusted electronic signature systems typically involve the use of third partyCertification Authority (CA) providers who ensure the validity of the digital certificates theyissue for confirming author identity, ensuring document integrity and providing encryptionkeys for secure document distribution. The CA providers would carry out a series ofverification tests to prove identity, including those typically used by banks in providingfinancial services. In the most secure systems, the CAs would themselves be legally liablefor any fraud carried out through the use of their digital certificates. Again, both commercialand free to use service provision is available.Central to both the Adobe and Open Office ability to add electronic signatures to theirdocuments is the fact that they are in PDF format. PDF documents not only contain thedocument content, they also include any meta-data relating to that content, includingelectronic signature data, added when the document was created and saved. When openedin a PDF document reader, the meta-data will be read and, where it relates to a digitalsignature, will be able to verify the status of the document, including the validity of the CAdigital certificate.Phase 2: the implementation planPDF file format is commonly used for the transmission of digital documents as it is anindependent format able to be opened by any PDF reader. It is commonly used in educationas a trusted format and would typically be requested for any document upload or emailattachment. It is entirely appropriate for the purpose of assignment submission by onlinedistance work-based learners.Online submission would be through the Swansea Metropolitan Moodle site. Eachsubmission would be a PDF file containing the assessment document prepared by thelearner, together with a top-sheet containing the electronic signatures of the learner and theWBL mentor responsible for confirming authenticity. The validity of electronic signatureswould be assured by registering all the users with the CA provider.Both Adobe Acrobat and Open Office Writer were tested as PDF authoring applications andwere both found to be perfectly adequate. Open Office Writer10was chosen as the preferred9Loehmann, F. (2004) Electronic Signatures and Encryption GUI. [online]. Available at:http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/i2/OpenOffice_Electronic_Signatures_and_Security.pdf10http://www.openoffice.org/product/writer.html
  15. 15. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report15option as it was open source and could be freely used by the institution, the WBL employerand the learners. The CA organisation selected for trialling in the pilot exercise was CAcert11who provide a free to use digital certificate service.Phase 3: testing and evaluationTo use Open Office Writer, it needs to be downloaded and installed on each computer to beused12. Each user then needs to register with CAcert, the sequence being:Registration as a user and create an account on the CAcert website13. This involvesentering a user name and password, along with other unique security data;When registered and logged in, the process is to select ‘new client certificate’ andthen ‘create certificate’;A security strength level is selected for the encryption key at this stage. For theexercise, ‘Microsoft enhanced cryptographic provider v1.0’ was chosen;When the certificate is created it opens in a new window with an invitation and link to importinto the browser. An email is also sent confirming the creation of the certificate, providing alink to it in the user account, and also a reminder that the CAcert root certificate also needsto be imported before certificates can be used. A link to this process is also provided.The installation process begins with the Root Certificate and this is accessed on the CAcertRoot Certificate website14. There are links on the page to initiate the Root Certificatedownload. Once this has been done, the download is imported in the InternetOptions>Content>Personal>Certificates> of the browser using the ‘Trusted Root CertificationAuthorities’ tab. The digital certificate can then be imported by clicking on the link in thecertificate page on the CAcert website. The certificate is now ready for use.With the digital certificate imported, it can be used to add electronic signatures to OpenOffice documents. For the purpose of Pilot Exercise 1 a test document was created in OpenOffice Writer and the electronic signature process tested.Once the document had been created the File>Digital Signatures option was selected andthe newly imported digital certificate option appeared in a new window and was activated byclicking on the Sign Document button. Once signed and saved, whenever the file is openedit will have the small icon next to the ‘The signatures in this document are valid’ line in theimage below showing in the document toolbar confirming that it is a valid signed document:When the document is opened and the icon is double clicked, the documentation verificationwill be confirmed and the security information can be viewed:11https://wiki.cacert.org/FAQ/AboutUs12http://www.openoffice.org/download/13https://www.cacert.org/index.php?id=114http://www.cacert.org/index.php?id=3
  16. 16. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report16If, at any time, the signed document is edited or changed in any way, the electronic signaturewill be invalidated and the icon in the document toolbar will disappear. The edited documentcan, of course, be re-signed by an authorised signatory.The system was tested and evaluated using a series of test documents. The test documentabove was sent by email as an attachment and when opened in Open Office Writer, itincluded the digital signature that confirmed validity and that the document had not beenaltered since the signature had been applied.When opened, the document was in read-only format which further avoids the possibility ofinvalidating the signature. The attached file was saved locally and, when opened as a localfile, still retained the digital signature verification. However, it was now in edit mode and, ifediting did take place, then the digital signature was invalidated.4. The Pilot OutcomesHaving established the viability of combining the open source document creation and editingapplication Open Office with the freely available Certification Authority services provided byCAcert, the next phase of the pilot exercise was to trial the system with Universityassessment documents.The standard assessment front-sheet used by the Faculty of Applied Design andEngineering at Swansea Met was chosen. It was imported into Open Office Writer and, aftersome appropriate formatting changes suitable for export as an OpenDocument Text file, thedocument was digitally signed using the authentication certificate set up during the first pilotexercise. After confirming the validity of the signature, the file was then sent as an emailattachment and, on receipt, the file was saved and opened using Open Office.
  17. 17. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report17The received document can be seen below, along with images demonstrating that the digitalsignature was valid and verifiable on receipt.The outcomes of the pilot exercises can therefore be reported to have met all expectationsand demonstrate that the use of electronic signatures can be reliably applied to remotelysubmitted assessment documents. It can be further reported that the outcome is achievableusing open source tools and freely available services, thus making the process highly costeffective and accessible.5. Conclusions and RecommendationsThe overall conclusions that can be drawn from the outcomes of this pilot exercise are thatthey confirmed that electronic signatures that authenticated digitally transmittedadministrative documents were achievable in a cost effective way and that they metcommercially acceptable levels of verification and security.In the context of the plans for the delivery of work-based learning by online distancelearning, it demonstrated that the system would facilitate the authentication of remotelysubmitted assessment materials. Clearly academic quality approval processes would needto be satisfied for accreditation, but it is felt that a level of quality assurance equivalent tothat of campus based courses could be demonstrated with this system.It is recommended that the electronic signature system be further tested and that this shouldinclude exploring alternative applications and services to ensure the most robust and costeffective combination is adopted. It is suggested that this be included in the preliminary trialsof online distance learning WBL delivery at the university.
  18. 18. JISC PotsPan Project Final Report18Appendix C: Pembrokeshire College Case StudyPartner Institution: Coleg Sir GârDate: April 2013Case Study Title: Pilot of the SAWSW Digitised WBL SystemTo be added.

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