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Developing an e-Learning Multiple Choice Questions Test using Mobile SMS

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					                                                           (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                                                                         Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011


              Developing an e-Learning
   Multiple Choice Questions Test using Mobile SMS
                                                 Ali Hussein Ali Alnooh
                                                 Computer Science Department
                                         College of Computer Science and Mathematics
                                                       Mosul University
                                                          Mosul, Iraq
                                                     a_alnooh@yahoo.com

Abstract—this paper presents a new system for Multiple Choice                    is truncated during the test time, this will lead to
Questions Paper Test using Mobile SMS (MCQPSMS) to develop                       restart the test from the beginning. Many popular
the traditional way of MCQ used in Paper Based Tests PBT                         companies use this kind of test like Microsoft,
through the use of mobile Short Message Service (SMS). This                      CISCO, ICDL, etc.
MCQPSMS system consists of two main parts: The first one
                                                                             Mobile Based Test (MBT): this kind of test is very
permits the teacher to enter questions and their answers, order
them in a random way, then print and give them to students.                      popular in now days because of the wide spread of
While the second part receives the answers from the students'                    mobile devices. The test is based mainly on questions
mobile phones by SMS, grading them automatically and save                        supported by multimedia forms like pictures, texts,
them in the database, then sending the marks to the students by                  and voices. The main disadvantage is that the
SMS. The system has been tested in Mosul university/computer                     student's mobile device most support multimedia
science department with 40 students as a testing sample and the                  technology used by the test, so if any student doesn't
results matched the paper.                                                       have a suitable mobile cannot participate in the test.
                                                                           So this paper took the advantages of PBT and MBT by
   Keywords- MCQ test, E-learning, mobile SMS, AT commands              suggesting a new method for testing through PBT, sending the
                                                                        answers using mobile SMS. The test uses both papers and
                                                                        mobile devices, in which the student will test using papers,
                     I.   INTRODUCTION                                  send the answers in SMS message to the server, the server will
                                                                        grade the answers, save the mark and finally send the result
   The massive developments in mobile communication
                                                                        back to the student by SMS.
systems with the multiplicity of services provided by these
systems - particularly SMS - has pushed this development to                               II.   RELATED WORKS
the need for employing this service in the e-Learning field
                                                                           Some related works used the web as a tool for achieving the
especially students tests like MCQ test. There are three types
                                                                        quizzes without the use of mobile devices. Rarh V. and Goel
of MCQ tests: paper based test, computer based test and
                                                                        A. [1] suggested an e-Quizzes system in an interactive manner
mobile based test.
                                                                        using the Moodle system, in other word each student must
      Paper Based Test (PBT): is easy to implement,
                                                                        have a computer device connected to the Internet. Other
         traditional and used frequently, but it needs a lot of
                                                                        related works employed the mobile phone in the e-Learning
         time from the teacher to grade the answers of the
                                                                        environments without using SMS. Tabata Y. and others [2]
         students, also the possibility of teacher's error in
                                                                        designed an iphone quiz system for learning the foreign
         answers grading may arise. Some solutions like
                                                                        languages by installing this system over students' mobile
         Object Character Recognition (OCR) systems were
                                                                        phones, so if any student doesn't have a device like the iphone
         adopted to solve those problems, but this need fast
                                                                        cannot attend the exam. Lee K. [3] developed a mobile
         scanner devices with high papers per minute (ppm)
                                                                        collaborative learning system through the communication
         which cost very high. Some popular organizations
                                                                        between the students' mobile devices like PDA, phones and
         use this method like TOEFL or IELETS examination
                                                                        pads. Saran M. and others [4] built an e-learning quiz system
         centers.
                                                                        depending on Multimedia Messaging Service MMS messages
      Computer Based Test (CBT): depends on web pages
                                                                        and SMS, which means if the student's mobile doesn't support
         and Internet connectivity, meaning that each student
                                                                        MMS, this will deny the student from the exam.
         must have a computer connected to the Internet                     Also there are other works employed the mobile SMS in
         during the test time. The possibility of errors during         controlling and management fields, Givehki F. and Nicknafs A.
         the grading of answers will not arise, but if the              [5] employed the SMS services to administrate a remote
         Internet connection broke down or the power supply



                                                                  153                              http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
                                                                                                   ISSN 1947-5500
                                                           (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                                                                         Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

network using the Simple Network Management Protocol                    mobile device, the mobile device should return a response
SNMP.                                                                   similar to this [8]:
  III. Short Message Service (SMS) and AT commands
                                                                                <CR><LF>Nokia<CR><LF>
A- SMS: have taken the mobile world by a storm. According                     <CR><LF>OK<CR><LF>
researches , there are two types of mobile users: texters and
talkers. The texters send more than double the messages that                        IV. PROPOSED METHODOLOGY
talkers do [6].
   So, SMS is a technology that enables the sending and                   MCQPSMS system assumes that there are the following
receiving of messages between mobile phones. It was first               hardware requirements:
appeared in Europe in 1992.
   The data that can be held by SMS message is very limited.                  Computer device supported by any data base software
One SMS message can contain at most 140 bytes of data, so                      like SQL, to save the questions with answers and also to
one SMS can contain up to 160 characters if 7-bit character                    save students' names and mobile phone numbers.
encoding is used (like English, Deutsch) or 70 characters if                  Mobile phone supporting Global System for Mobile
16-bit character encoding is used (like Arabic, Chinese) [7].                  communication (GSM) connected to the computer.
   There are many different kinds of SMS applications on the                  Printer device.
market today and many others are being developed like                          Figure (1) shows the architecture of the system.
person-to-person text messaging, provision of information,
alerts and notifications.

B- AT Commands:
   AT commands are instructions used to control a modem,
GSM/GPRS modem or mobile phones. AT is the abbreviation
of ATtention. Every command line starts with "AT" or "at".
   The AT commands can be executed either by programming
or using the Hyper Terminal program.
   The starting "AT" is the prefix that informs the mobile
phone about the start of a command line. It is not part of the
AT command name.
    Here are some of the tasks that can be done using AT                             Figure (1) architecture of the system
commands with a GSM/GPRS modem or mobile phone:
 Get basic information about the mobile phone or                          The teacher will formulate the questions and print them. The
     GSM/GPRS modem.                                                    students will receive the questions printed on papers, send the
 Get basic information about the subscriber.                           answers as SMS to the mobile phone connected to computer.
 Send, read, write or delete SMS messages                                 Now the computer will read the received messages using the
   There are basically two modes to work with SMS: Protocol             AT commands and grade the answers, save and send them to
Data Unit mode (PDU) and Text Mode. A mobile phone                      the students. The job is divided into two algorithms, the first
internally uses PDU format.                                             one is used by the teacher to formulate and print the questions,
   Developers normally uses text mode because it is easier to           while the second algorithm is used to receive the students'
use. (AT+CMGF) is the command to set the mode, e.g.                     answers.
AT+CMGF=0 sets the PDU mode while AT+CMGF=1 will
set the format to text mode. The General syntax of Extended             A- First Algorithm:
AT commands are:                                                           The teacher can use either saved files containing questions,
- All command lines must start with "AT" and end with                   or write the questions directly with their answers.
carriage return character.                                                 The program will generate a random sequence for the
- A command line can contain more than one AT commands.                 questions to each student to ensure that there will be no
Only the first AT command should be prefixed with "AT". AT              cheating between students. After that the new sequence will be
commands in the same command-line string should be                      saved in the DB to be used during marks grading.
separated with semicolons, e.g. AT+CMGL;+CMGI<CR>.                         Now the program will print the student's name with his/her
- A string is enclosed between double quotes, e.g.                      phone number on the top of the paper and print the questions in
AT+CMGL="ALL"<CR>.                                                      the new randomized sequence in the other parts of the paper.
- Information responses and result codes (including both final          Figure (2) shows the flowchart of this algorithm.
result codes and unsolicited result codes) always start and end
with a carriage return character and a linefeed character, e.g.         B- Second Algorithm:
after sending the command line "AT+CGMI<CR>" to the



                                                                  154                              http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
                                                                                                   ISSN 1947-5500
                                                            (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                                                                          Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

   This algorithm will be implemented after the MCQ test time
is ended and all the students sent their answers in SMS
messages to the mobile phone connected to the computer
beside the teacher.
   The program will read all the students' messages and save
them in a temporary area, sort them depending on the student's
phone and delete the duplicated messages to ensure that if the
student has sent more than one answer only the first answer
will be depended.
   After that the answers will be matched with the randomized
sequence saved in DB in algorithm (1) to compute the student's
mark.
   Now the mark will be saved in the DB and sent in SMS to
the students. Each student's result will not take more than 6-10
seconds depending on mobile phone subscriber. Figure (3)
shows the flowchart of this algorithm.




                                                                                        Figure (3) the second algorithm

                                                                                   V. EXPERMINTES AND DISCUSSION
                                                                            C# language with .NET4 platform was used to program
                                                                         MCQPSMS system. Nokia 6230 was used as a mobile device
                                                                         connected with a computer to receive students' answers.
                                                                            The system was tested in Mosul University, faculty of
                 Figure (2) the first algorithm                          computer science and mathematics at the department of
                                                                         computer science with 40 students. The test was composed
                                                                         from 25 MCQ form printed on 4 pages size A4. One of the
                                                                         important features supported by this system is that randomizing




                                                                   155                              http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
                                                                                                    ISSN 1947-5500
                                                         (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                                                                       Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

the sequence of questions for each student will ensure no one
of the students during the exam can send his/her solution to
other student.
   Figure (4) shows the program interface used by the teacher
for formulating and printing the questions. While figure (5)
shows the program interface used by the teacher for receiving                           Figure (6) sudent's answer
the SMS messages i.e. answers from the students. Figure (6)
shows one of the student's answers.

                                                                                     VI SYSTEM EVALUATION
                                                                         The system was evaluated with the other types of tests,
                                                                      table(1) shows the results of this evaluation:


                                                                            Factor         PBT       CBT      MBT             MCQPSMS
                                                                        Communication
                                                                                            ---      Low      High                Low
                                                                             cost
                                                                            Device
                                                                                            ---      Low Medium                   High
                                                                          availability
                                                                         Grading time      Slow      Fast Medium                   Fast
                                                                        Grading errors Rarely Never          Never                Never
                                                                            Results
        Figure (4) questions formulating and printing                   announcement       Long      Short    Short               Short
                                                                             time
                                                                                       Table (1) system evaluation


                                                                         For MCQPSMS, the communication cost is low because the
                                                                      cost of the SMS message is very cheap while the cost of
                                                                      MMS - used in MBT - is high.
                                                                         For the device availabilty, MCQPSMS system is high since
                                                                      all the mobile phone can send SMS messages, while in CBT is
                                                                      low because each student must have a computer connected to
                                                                      Internet during the exam time which is a restricted factor if the
                                                                      number of students exceed the number of available computers.
                                                                      It is medium in MBT because not all of the students have
                                                                      mobile devices supported with multimedia technology.
                                                                         Fot the grading time plus sending the results, MCQPSMS
                Figure (5) answers receiving                          system is fast since each student does not exceed 6-10
                                                                      seconds. In PBT this factor is very slow since it is done
                                                                      manually by the teacher, but it can be fast if an OCR and a
                                                                      high speed scanner are used which is costed. In MBT this
                                                                      factor is medium because it depends on MMS .
                                                                         Also the grading errors in MCQPSMS system, CBT and
                                                                      MBT will never occur because it is done automatically, while
                                                                      it may occur in PBT since it is done manually. Finally, the
                                                                      results' announcements time in MCQPSMS system, CBT and
                                                                      MBT is short, but it takes long time in the PBT.
                                                                         To evaluate the total time of test grading with results
                                                                      announcement, two tests were done with 25 MCQ printed in 4
                                                                      pages for three groups consisted from 18,37,40 students
                                                                      respectively.
                                                                         The tests were done in two ways: First, using a PBT with
                                                                      scanner 20 ppm and an OCR software. Second, using
                                                                      MCQPSMS system.




                                                                156                              http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
                                                                                                 ISSN 1947-5500
                                                                          (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
                                                                                                                        Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2011

   For the first group, the average time needed for each student
using MCQPSMS is 8 seconds with total time equal to 2.4                                                   AUTHORS PROFILE
minutes, while the average time for each student using OCR is                                              Mr Ali H. Alnooh (MSc. ) is currently an
                                                                                                           assistant lecturer at Mosul University/ College
12 seconds with total time equal to 3.6 seconds, and so on for
                                                                                                           of Coputer Science and Mathematics/Computer
other groups. The result of the evaluation is shown in figure                                              Science Department. He obtained his MSc.
(7).                                                                                                       degree in computer science since 2005,
                                                                                                           intrested in the area of network security, routing
                                                                                                           protocols, Mobile networking, e-Learning, e-
                                                                                                           Government and e-Commerece applications. He
                                                                                                           teachs Internet Architecture, Computer
                                                                                                           Networks and Web design for undergraduate
                                                                                                           students.




                 Figure (7) evaluation of grading time

                         VII CONCLUSIONS
      MCQPSMS system can be adopted in educational institutes
which relies on PBT, the cost for the requirements is very
cheap since it doesn't need more than a traditional mobile
phone device and a printer device. Also this system will
remove the burdens of manual grading from the teacher, the
announcements of the results will be as soon as the test ended.

                                 REFERENCES
[1]    Rarh V. and Goel A., "A Methodology for e-Quiz Content Production
       for E-Learning", 2nd International Conference on Emerging Applications
       of Information Technology, 2011.
[2]    Tabata Y., Yin C., Ogata H. and Yano Y., "An iPhone Quiz System for
       Learning Foreign Languages", 2nd International Asia Conference on
       Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics, 2010.
[3]    Lee K. B., "Developing Mobile Collaborative Learning Applications for
       Mobile Users", International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies,
       Vol 5, No 4, 2011.
[4]     Saran N., Kagilaty K. and Saferoglu G., "Use of Mobile Phones in
       Language Learning: Developing Effective Instuctional Materials", 5th
       IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous
       Technology in Education., 2008, pp. 39-43.
[5]    Givehki F. and Nicknafs A., "Mobile Control and Management of
       Computer Networks Using SMS Services", Journal of Telematics and
       Informatics, Volume 27, Issue 3, 2010.
[6]    Mehta N., "Mobile Web Development", Packt publishing, 2008.
[7]    Bodic G., "Mobile Messaging Technologies and Services SMS, EMS
       and MMS", 2nd Ed., John Wiely and Sons, Ltd. 2005.
[8]    "AT Commands Reference Guide", Telit Communication Center, 2010.




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