Exam Management System for M-Learning Environments

Designing a Secure Exam Management System (SEMS) for M-Learning Environments

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Abstract—M-Learning has enhanced the e-learning by making the learning process learner-centered. However, enforcing
exam security in open environments where each student has his/her own mobile/tablet device connected to a Wi-Fi network
through which it is further connected to the Internet can be one of the most challenging tasks. In such environments, students
can easily exchange information over the network during exam time. This paper aims to identify various vulnerabilities that may
violate exam security in m-learning environments and to design the appropriate security services and countermeasures that can
be put in place to ensure exam security. It also aims to integrate the resulting secure exam system with an existing, opensource
and widely accepted Learning Management System (LMS) and its service extension to the m-learning environment,
namely “the Moodbile Project”.
Index Terms— Access control, e-learning, exam engine, Learning Management System (LMS), m-learning

INTRODUCTION
-LEARNING has experienced such an extraordinary
growth over the last years that its global industry
market is estimated to be worth USD 91 billion [1]. Learning
Management Systems (LMSs), due to being essential
tools of e-learning, have been adopted by many organizations
to establish and provide access to online learning
services. Nowadays, the success of LMSs is so great: 74%
of the US corporations and educational institutions currently
offering e-learning employ LMSs in their training
programs [2]. In Spain, over 90% of the universities and
colleges use an LMS [3]. According to [4], 29% of the organizations
(banking sector, retailing sector, etc.) in Turkey
have adopted e-learning applications. Globally, 79.5%
of large companies were reported to be using these systems
in their training programs in 2008 [5] and the market
for LMS is estimated to have an annual growth rate of
about 25.2% through the year 2018 [6].
The expansion of mobile devices, meanwhile, is
providing new ways to learn (mobile learning or mlearning).
The 2015 Horizon Report [7] mentions that
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) learning technology is
expected to be increasingly adopted by institutions in one
year’s time or less to make use of mobile and online learning.
Forecast of the number of smartphone users for 2019
is 5.6 billion globally which is three times that for 2013 [8].
Thus, LMSs must change to adapt to new user requirements
and technologies. For example, interaction with
external applications, such as social networks and mobile
applications, must be incorporated in LMSs [9] to facilitate
personal learning demands that happen anywhere
and at any time.
M-learning puts the control of the learning process in
hands of the learner itself [10] and enhances collaboration
and flexibility. It is concluded in [11] that having a mobile,
accessible e-book is “perceived to benefit student
learning due to the value placed on the affordance of
situated study in everyday life.” The students that participated
in this study expressed feelings of competence and
high self-efficacy, and that they were able to learn more
using their e-books. Moreover, among other technological
factors impacting the future of m-learning, Rao et al. [12]
asserted that cloud computing would make mobile learning
more efficient in many ways, ultimately in time and
cost. A web portal developed using Amazon’s cloud
computing service is presented in [13] whereby teachers
without programming skills can implement interactive
learning processes. The materials developed can be used
with mobile applications on Android and iOS based devices.
Some of the contributions of m-learning [14] are:

  1. It is learner-centered [15].
  2. It is a new alternative for information delivery and
  3. It enhances collaborative learning [16].
    On the other hand, m-learning faces several challenges
    [14] such as:
  4. Lack of teacher confidence, training or technical
    difficulties with mobile devices [17], [18].
  5. Lack of institutional support [17], [18].
  6. Interoperability problems with LMSs [19].
  7. Security and privacy issues [20], [21].
    One possible solution to overcome these challenges is
    the integration of m-learning initiatives with LMSs. From
    students’ point of view, m-learning could personalize
    their learning process as well as enable them to collaborate
    with other students or teachers. From teachers’ point
    of view, they could continue to use LMSs as their working
    platform, leaving mobile devices for students. The
    problem, however, is that the integration between mlearning
    applications and LMS is not an easy task. Indeed,
    LMSs do not generally contain interoperability standards
  8. to communicate with external applications; they are usually
  9. designed as monolithic or layered systems [9].
  10. Moodle, as one of the mostly accepted and widely
  11. used open-source LMS, is a web-based application. It had
  12. a user base of 83008 registered and verified sites, serving
  13. 70696570 users in 7.5+ million courses with 1.2+ million
  14. teachers as of June 2013 [22]. Yet, due to the fact that it is
  15. not made to be service oriented, its services cannot be
  16. consumed through client applications other than web
  17. browsers. This has limited its scope of use to personal
  18. computers; therefore, the Moodbile Project [23] was conceived
  19. to extend the Moodle functionality to the world of
  20. mobile devices. This project aims to enable mobile learning
  21. applications to work together with the widely accepted
  22. Moodle LMS by incorporating the appropriate external
  23. web services into Moodle architecture or redesigning
  24. certain components of Moodle to be service oriented.
  25. Even though Moodle 2.0 already had a collection of
  26. web services, these web services focused on developing
  27. an API suitable for massive batch actions like user or
  28. course creation and inscriptions. They are not, however,
  29. suitable for the integration of mobile learning applications
  30. and do not properly address security management
  31. issues.

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