UNIBE.11

MEASURED 3 extension

Long Title: Media-rich Electronic Assessment with Secure Delivery 3 (Phase 4)
Leading
Organization:
Universität Bern
Participating
Organizations:
ETH Zürich
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
Other
Partners:
Université de Lausanne
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.01.2013
End Date: 30.04.2013
Project Leader: S. Guttormsen
Website: http://www.iml.unibe.ch/measured/

MEASURED is now tablet-ready, offers a boot medium that allows easy deployment and strengthens security, and brings the know-how exchange to a sustainable basis.

(see also SIOUX (Phase 1), MEASURED (Phase 2) and MEASURED 2 (Phase 3))

Results

Measured is a system for the electronic delivery of exams on both desktops and tablets (iOS).
It emphasizes security and usability in order to be suitable even for highstakes summative exams at university level. Supported content includes media (video, audio) and well-proven question types (multiple choice type A + K', short answer, script concordance).

Next to the technical deliverables, the project has also resulted in a large knowledge gain available in the form of various reports e.g. on legal implications of computer-based assessment (CBA) and a survey on the current situation and trends regarding CBA at academic institutions in Switzerland.

As boot medium the iPXE-Boot version (Tiny-Core-Linux; ipxe-chainload) has been tested with 170 computers in 7 rooms. It resulted in a considerable saving of time (about 7:1). For the App deployment processes defined in the e-OSCE project will be adopted.

Measured is in use at the Institute of Medical Education (IML), University of Bern. The results and findings are available to the academic e-Assessment community.
All documentation, software and other deliverables are available on request.

The development will continue, with first priority on the tablet version (ev. replacement of Flex framework) and better integration into a full e-Assessment lifecycle. Also the work for an integration of the the boot medium will continue and community building activities be pursued in the Learning Infrastructure project.


Goals

The three main objectives of the extension are:

  1. Mobile Client Cube: Make MEASURED tablet-ready. This will offer interested institutions greater financial and logistical scope in the infrastructure field.
  2. Deployment & Delivery Cube: Produce a runtime environment that is as secure as possible on the individual device used for performing the examination. This helps institutions to carry out exams that are as fraud-proof and efficient as possible.
  3. Community Cube: Establish sustainable structures for contacts and exchange of experience beyond the end of AAA/SWITCH.

In March 2012, as part of phase 3, a survey amongst Swiss universities and universities of Applied Sciences was carried out in order to establish the current situation and the general trends in the field of computer-based examinations in Switzerland. The most central problem mentioned by the educational institutions turned out to be the lack of suitable infrastructure for performing computer based assessments (CBA) with medium and large-sized cohorts, as would be necessary for a more broad-based use of CBA.
On the one hand, it would seem that the use of tablet computers (cheap, mobile, space-saving) could provide a potential solution to the infrastructure bottleneck - especially in view of the fact that a large number of institutions are closing down their computer pool rooms rather than upgrading them . On the other hand, even in institutions which have sufficient computer workplaces or where student laptops are used, there is a lack of efficient and simple means of putting these workplaces in a state that will permit an examination to be held and reliably graded.
The survey has shown that the institutions that have already experience with e-Assessment are interested in being kept up-to-date on developments in this field and in discussing these matters. Therefore those contacts must be established beyond the funding period.

Development

Mobile Client Cube: Porting the examination client to tablet operating systems
Through the system architecture that is being implemented and the selection of Adobe AIR as the runtime environment for the different platforms, MEASURED is well suited to porting to mobile operating systems (Android, iOS, webOS). A large portion of the existing code basis can be taken over without any changes. But a substantial amount of development work is required for the user interface (interaction design) and also for certain functions that are particularly close to the system (file handling, cryptography).

  • First iteration of an interaction design adapted to a tablet computer (on a prototype basis)
  • Porting of the system core and the functions close to the system (as AIR Native Extensions, ANE)
  • Porting the front end of the most important question and content types (multiple choice, text) for test purposes
  • Second iteration of the interaction design
  • Definitive porting of the most important question and content types
  • If time permits: porting of additional question and content types

Deployment & Delivery Cube: Compilation of tools and best-practice recommendations for efficient deployment and securing the runtime environment on different platforms
a) Tablet computers
Generally tablet computers and their operating systems make it difficult to perform far-reaching interventions in the system, of the type necessary for the desired exam environment. In addition, the hardware interfaces are often subject to pronounced restrictions. Finally, with mobile devices, such as tablet computers, physical security has to be accorded greater importance.

  • More detailed capture of the requirements in terms of deployment, system hardening and physical security for e-Assessment with tablet computers
  • Evaluation and selection of operating systems (e.g. Android, iOS, Windows 8, webOS, ...)
  • Evaluation and selection of the tablet computers that are being used for test purposes in an initial step
  • Preparatory tests and investigations
  • Implementation of an initial software iteration to support simple deployment and a secure runtime environment "proof-of-concept"
  • Retaining the know-how acquired in the form of best-practice recommendations

b) Student laptops, pool installations
The sole possibility for creating the necessary trustworthiness of an examination station for CBA seems to be the development of a boot medium (network, USB stick, DVD-ROM; boot image probably based on Linux). This will allow a secure examination environment to be created based directly on the hardware layer. The computers would then be booted from quasi "untrusted" hardware into a "trusted" operating system core. Kiosk applications are started one step higher than user processes. This makes it difficult to monitor other user processes or even the behaviour of the operating system. A boot medium has various advantages over kiosk applications:

  • hardware components installed in a computer available to third-party applications by means of drivers and modules
  • access to local hard disks or to the network can be effectively prevented
  • firewall settings can be specified to ensure that even when third-party applications are used for examinations (such as Matlab or Eclipse) this does not pose an increased security risk.
  • virtual environments will no longer need additional securing

Community Cube: Sustainable exchange in the field of CBA for universities

  • establish potential routes and vehicles for maintaining contacts in the development field and for supporting the exchange of know-how in future

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