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Secure e-examination systems compared: case studies from two countries

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Fluck, A ORCID: 0000-0003-1301-4615, Adebayo, OS and Abdulhamid, SM 2017 , 'Secure e-examination systems compared: case studies from two countries' , The Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, vol. 16 , pp. 107-125 .

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Abstract

Aim/Purpose :Electronic examinations have some inherent problems. Students have expressednegative opinions about electronic examinations (e-examinations) due to a fearof, or unfamiliarity with, the technology of assessment, and a lack ofknowledge about the methods of e-examinations.Background :Electronic examinations are now a viable alternative method of assessing studentlearning. They provide freedom of choice, in terms of the location of theexamination, and can provide immediate feedback; students and institutions canbe assured of the integrity of knowledge testing. This in turn motivates studentsto strive for deeper learning and better results, in a higher quality andmore rigorous educational process.Methodology :This paper compares an e-examination system at FUT Minna Nigeria with onein Australia, at the University of Tasmania, using case study analysis. The functionssupported, or inhibited, by each of the two e-examination systems, withdifferent approaches to question types, cohort size, technology used, and securityfeatures, are compared.Contribution :The researchers’ aim is to assist stakeholders (including lecturers, invigilators,candidates, computer instructors, and server operators) to identify ways of improvingthe process. The relative convenience for students, administrators, andlecturer/assessors and the reliability and security of the two systems are considered.Challenges in conducting e-examinations in both countries are revealed byjuxtaposing the systems. The authors propose ways of developing more effectivee-examination systems.Findings :The comparison of the two institutions in Nigeria and Australia shows e-examinationshave been implemented for the purpose of selecting students foruniversity courses, and for their assessment once enrolled. In Nigeria, there iswidespread systemic adoption for university entrance merit selection. In Australiathis has been limited to one subject in one state, rather than being adoptednationally. Within undergraduate courses, the Nigerian scenario is quite extensive;in Australia this adoption has been slower, but has penetrated a wide varietyof disciplines.Recommendationsfor Practitioners :Assessment integrity and equipment reliability were common issues across thetwo case studies, although the delivery of e-examinations is different in eachcountry. As with any procedural process, a particular solution is only as good asits weakest attribute. Technical differences highlight the link between e-examinationsystem approaches and pedagogical implications. It is clear thatsocial, cultural, and environmental factors affect the success of e-examinations.For example, an interrupted electrical power supply and limited technical knowhoware two of the challenges affecting the conduct of e-examinations in Nigeria.In Tasmania, the challenge with the “bring your own device” (BYOD) is tomake the system operate on an increasing variety of user equipment, includingtablets.Recommendationfor Researchers :The comparisons between the two universities indicate there will be a productiveconvergence of the approaches in future. One key proposal, which arosefrom the analysis of the existing e-examination systems in Nigeria and Australia,is to design a form of “live” operating system that is deployable over the Internet.This method would use public key cryptography for lecturers to encrypttheir questions online.Impact on Society :If institutions are to transition to e-examinations, one way of facilitating thismove is by using computers to imitate other assessment techniques. However,higher order thinking is usually demonstrated through open-ended or creativetasks. In this respect the Australian system shows pro mise by providing thesame full operating system and software application suite to all candidates,thereby supporting assessment of such creative higher order thinking. The twocases illustrate the potential tension between “online” or networked reticulationof questions and answers, as opposed to “offline” methods.Future Research :A future design proposition is a web-based strategy for a virtual machine, whichis launched into candidates’ computers at the start of each e-examination. Thenew system is a form of BYOD externally booted e-examination (as in Australia)that is deployable over the Internet with encryption and decryption featuresusing public key cryptography (Nigeria). This will allow lecturers to encrypttheir questions and post them online while the questions are decrypted by theadministrator or students are given the key. The system will support both objectiveand open-ended questions (possibly essays and creative design tasks). Theauthors believe this can re-define e-examinations as the “gold standard” of assessment.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Fluck, A and Adebayo, OS and Abdulhamid, SM
Keywords: e-examination, e-Learning, public-private relationships, open-source software, accreditation authorities, post-paper assessment
Journal or Publication Title: The Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice
Publisher: Informing Science Institute
ISSN: 2165-3151
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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