It seems quite a safe bet to assert that the Internet and mobile Communication have had a preponderant influence on the way the world relates today. On the other hand, education remains a sine qua non fact of life for the overwhelming majority of human society In Nigeria; the educational sector has experienced marked changes as a result of the introduction of internet-based services. In one case, results for the UTME (Universities Tertiary Matriculation Examination) are now processed and released within days of the examination being written, an ever-increasing number of universities are employing the Internet to deliver a widening range of information and support services, covering such areas as admissions, student registration, examination records, and distance learning.
This work is an attempt at delivering an online system capable of delivering examination results on demand, using the University of Calabar as case study. This application will also provide capability to assist students, lecturers and administrative personnel interact in resolving any result-related complaints.
This chapter introduces the work as an entity, discussing the issues which are fundamental to the work ab initio:
a. The problem scenarios which, prima facie, lend necessity to the work;
b. The modalities pertaining to the realization of the solution system;
c. The content and extent to which the work will be carried out;
d. Definitions of key terms relevant to the central theme of the work.
1.2 Problem Definition
The major problems regarding the delivery of examination information services in Nigerian universities include:
a. Delays in the release of results;
b. Errors inherent in handling and assessment of answer scripts;
c. Delays in marking answer scripts; and
d. Cumbersome response systems – where they exist – for handling result-related complaints.
1.3 Objective Of Study
From the foregoing, the objectives of the study become quite clear – as a result, the study aims to achieve the following:
a. Conceptual design for a secure, accessible and user-friendly online examination results system for a university, using the University of Calabar, UNICAL, as case study;
b. Development of such a system to demonstrate its functionality, using the XAMP (cross-browser Apache/MySQL/PHP) web server framework;
c. Perform tests on the said system to assure functionality, accessibility and usability of the system.
1.4 Research Justification
Justification for engaging in this study can be drawn from the following reasons:
a. The need to demonstrate the effectiveness of employing mobiledriven information systems as a viable complement to systems based on the regular Web, within the university information framework; and
b. The need to achieve a greater degree of responsiveness among stakeholders in the results system – students, lecturers and system administrators – enabling them collaborate effectively to resolve result-related complaints.
1.5 Research Methodology
In order to realize the objectives of this study, it is pertinent that, as in all matters of substance, strategy be employed in achieving set goals. The methodology employed in the course of this study is outlined thus:
a. Outline a set of requirements to be met by the system proposed;
b. Conceive and implement the design of the said system as a webbased application, largely using UML, the Unified Modelling Language, along the lines of an object-oriented approach;
c. Development of the solution system using Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, a RAD (Rapid Application Development) IDE for creating Websites and applications.
d. Deployment of the solution system for testing: after the solution is developed, it will be uploaded onto a free web server for the purposes of demonstrating its functionality.
e. Beta testing on the hosted solution to confirm its conformity to the system requirement specifications earlier outlined;
f. Detailed reporting of the findings stated above, with deduced inferences, and noted grounds for future innovation.
1.6 Scope And Limitations Of The Study
In the course of realizing this project, I shall take into account the consideration that all development and analysis regarding the project will be centered on internet standards and technology.
In full, the scope of the work is outlined thus:
a. The solution, as conceived and developed in this study, will focus on examinations for undergraduate courses only;
b. The questions delivered by the solution will be of two formats, viz, multiple-choice and subjective;
c. As conceived, the solution shall comprise of the following modules:
i. A result search application for students, based on the Internet, through which students and lecturers can search and view results, as well as interact regarding result-related complaints;
ii. A back-end application, to be used by lecturers and administrators, for the management of essential information for the system, such as course allocations, course student lists
iii. User authentication modules, which will employ unique modes of authentication to uniquely identify users, and maintain user state within the application.
In addition, a number of limitations exist which must be noted. These include:
a. The proprietary nature of the school portal will make it rather difficult to access the data schema used by it; hence, the data schemas employed by the proposed system will for the most part be theoretical in nature. However, this can be surmounted with adequate cooperation from relevant agencies within the University Management;
b. The time-critical nature of the study informs my use of prototype-based RAD to develop the proposed solution.
1.7 Definition Of Terms
a. Beta testing: Testing carried out on software independent of its manufacturer by external users.
b. Internet application: A Web site with dynamic, i.e. data-source oriented user-specific, content, which usually requires some form of user authentication.
c. Mobile device: Any device with the functionality for information management and transfer free from spatial and temporal constraints. Such devices include mobile phones, smart phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), tablets and readers, among
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