Mobile technology is rapidly becoming active in the education sector today. Scientists, practitioners and academic institutions feel it is easier to carry out their tasks by utilizing this technology.
They feel that it is possible to acquire data and information anytime and anywhere. Moreover, mobile technology allows the educational community to interact with outside parties such as parents, the public, and even the government. This chapter introduces a Student Data Retrieval System that accepts the use of a mobile phone to access the student performance and financial records.
Student Data Retrieval System leverages short messaging service (SMS) technology to improve parent involvement in their child’s progress in school. An overall study of this project is aimed at providing a secure, inclusive and cost-effective system design and implementation approach.
SMS is an acronym for short messaging service and describes a mobile technology that restricts the use of standardized application protocols for short text messages sent from one cell phone to another or from an application to phone.
Availability and cost- effectiveness are the major benefits of text messaging.
Mobile SMS technology is thought to be rapidly developing to meet many people’s needs.
People are more inclined to use SMS technology to improve their lives with its widespread use. People can easily interact with others at various places by typing and reading short messages on their mobile phones. This can be done whenever and wherever this type of communication is needed by people.
In addition, SMS provides people with cost efficiency as its average rate is lower than a phone call’s average rate.
Nowadays, SMS is not only seen as a communication medium, but also for other purposes. For example, SMS is used for commercial purposes, where it serves as a medium for marketing and promoting companies’ products. A company can receive product orders from its customers via SMS. Overall, SMS allows businesses to change the operation of their business and gain more benefits. The use of SMS has gone into many disciplines and businesses. Accompanying the rapid development of mobile phones is a range of residences such as Short Messaging Services (SMS), Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) and others that are available for use and incorporate mobile phone utility.
To this day, especially in developing countries, there is still the issue of obtaining the results of the exams, as students continue to spend time checking them on the notice boards. Even people from less developed countries are now delivering exam results on their website at most universities. However, the caliber of internet availability is still low and quite inaccessible. SMS is even more convenient and cost-effective in developed countries, where the majority of households have access to the Internet. Most of Kenya’s high schools, especially additional counties and national schools, use online third-party services to communicate information to parents and submit test results and fee status despite websites. These can also include third-party SMS providers as well as mobile payment systems.
The Student Data Retrieval System is a tool that can be used to overcome most of the obstacles encountered by our high schools in providing parents with information, exam results, and fees payment status. The main advantage of this process is that it is convenient and easy for parents to get valuable information on the fly. Thus, SMS plays a major role in this system’s implementation. Thanks to its usefulness in getting information from one location to another in a very fast and easy way, this service has become important today. The Student Data Retrieval System implementation is expected to deliver test results in its dynamics, parents are expected to access the test results and financial information regardless of where they are and on the fly.
In this project, SMS was chosen as a data transfer medium to incorporate systems that do not require high-end phones, such as smartphones. SMS selection is primarily guided by the target population of the solution proposed by the venture. Most parents are hardly able to buy smartphones and other high-end phones in rural areas. The use of SMS means that all parents can use the service without a smartphone.
A variety of existing student management systems include student information and fee status. Most of these solutions, however, were planned for use with smartphones. Without a smartphone, these parents do not gain from this data, and therefore they lack universality. Another reason why most of the solutions that are developed have less impact on the parents of students is what to do with the media used by those solutions, web-based solutions like Zeraki Analytics and SmartShule for instance. Very few parents have access to the Internet in rural areas. This can be due to lack of connectivity or low literacy levels. Also, as Charles P. (1948) states, “A separate home user or a standalone office with few employees is not an expected target for multiple attacks. But add a network to the mix and the risk increases sharply”. There is no doubt that it is exposed to security attacks by processing student data online, particularly sensitive details such as examination results and fees.
However, where such applications are used as a test management system with SMS, they only help push notifications and deliver results to recently concluded exam as well as those transactions of which receipt of the fee payment notices have been approved. Third-party school facilities usually come at high prices, which further raises their pressure on emerging schools in order to achieve better education.
The project provides the best alternative solution for the delivery of student data via SMS. Not only does the SDRS allow parents to apply for qualifications, it also offers results as they become usable. This is done by emphasizing the result (sending to your phone) to the parent or acting on a request sent from the parent to produce the result (pulled). Fee status and mini statement are also accessed in the same way. The system also uses an inexpensive GSM modem and a simple phone line. Safaricom SMS bundles can also be leveraged to cut down on the cost of using the system. The Student Data Retrieval System supports all types of phones, with a basic SMS feature, so it ensures that every parent benefits from the service.
The main objective of this project is to distribute the student’s test results and parents’ phones in a cost-effective, inclusive and most secure way and support messaging functionality.
Compared to mobile phones and the Internet, not only do mobile phones come at much cheaper prices, but mobile phones already belong to the majority of the Kenyan population. The explosion of mobile phones in Kenya is unprecedented, this means that it is easier to make contact with people using mobile phones than any other media in Kenya. Scofield and Kubin (2002) argued that smaller devices could potentially provide a better interface for web browsing and information search through other means.
The biggest advantage of using SMS is that it has the lowest availability among all mobile phones. Most phones are SMS enabled. This is further from the fact that mobile phones are something most people carry and carry with them almost everywhere. The relative ease of use of SMS makes it possible for the user to learn how to send SMS easily which means that most parents know to send SMS even in remote areas.
Most of the time, the cost involved in sending SMS is relatively low, and most providers do not charge for receiving SMS. For example, most SMS providers in Kenya, Safaricom, offer the purchase of an SMS bundle at a cheaper price than the normal cost of sending a text message. It allows customers to send and receive an unlimited number of SMS messages. It is possible to acquire a special dedicated line that can use a custom rate for messages sent to a number. All these contribute to what makes SMS a cost-effective means of disseminating information.
Furthermore, since SMS works on the ‘one-store-and-forward’ concept, where even if the recipient’s phone is switched off, they will still be able to receive messages and can be considered an almost instantaneous communication medium. This is compared to most web-based applications, which operate on the a ‘store-and-retrieve’ concept, where a sender must wait for the receiver to come on-line and use the network to receive messages needed. Therefore, parents can also use the student’s data at remote locations where Internet facility may not be available, preventing them from accessing online services.
The proposed system uses short messaging service (SMS), which relies on telecommunications infrastructure provided by GSM operators to provide means of cheap and fast communication between parents and school. The SMS server receives the SMS message from the user and processes it by connecting to a database containing fee details and test results. In doing so, the system receives SMS from all types of phones from all networks. This provides more flexibility by allowing multiple result checking options.
The adoption of SMS in the solution, therefore, ensures that the solution is accessible to the majority of the rural population, who have intentions to inquire for the student’s exam result, asking for their fees remaining or mini statements.
The system provides a default password to all parents upon registration which they can change later. Specifying the password in the SMS ensures that the student’s results cannot be accessed by the cell phone until the password is provided, this will be useful in the case that the cellphone has been stolen or it is misplaced. Has gone into wrong hands.
Error handling is an essential part of a good system, as errors arise especially in situations requiring user input. Users can mismatch words incorrectly, or even send messages to the wrong number. A feedback mechanism is therefore required to inform users of their errors and suggest what went wrong. This feature is often missing in most SMS result checking systems; This is probably being ignored because the cost associated with sending SMS is low or free. However, error handling and notification is important to ensure that users are system friendly.
The system checks for possible errors in received SMS and sends an error notification to users. Possible errors are an incorrect password, incorrect SMS format, etc.
The system supports both push and pull built on an independent service that includes using an application and a modem. The service offers limited benefits but is easy and quick to set up as it does not require service provider authorization or connection to other third-party SMS providers. The project takes into account only the subject code and overall average grade and form status along with its grade.
The project also works with processed receivables and MPESA transactions, as verified and recorded by the school accountant and it only saves the status of fees after this processing. Parents also have the privilege of requesting a fee balance or mini statement, which is limited to the maximum abbreviated SMS format allowed and therefore may not include all transactions per charge. It does not include any analysis of previous exam results nor is it integrated with any fee payment channel.
The modem uses a common SIM card with a phone number and the message that originates from the modem attracts a standard cost according to the mobile service operator. This means that no special short codes will be used in the course of this project to pull or push SMS messages.
Focusing on students’ achievement in the current word exam will enable efficient design of algorithms to serve questions. To serve the purpose of this project, the focus is on sending SMS only as a medium, leaving other irrelevant modules. The SMS will only contain a summary of the student’s achievement, including output that includes the students’ names, admission numbers, cumulative grade point averages, and comments. By sending a full version of the student’s grade, it will incur additional SMS costs which will affect the additional cost required to be handled by the school.
Since a GSM modem is used and the application is expected to run on a standalone computer, SMS queries will only be limited to normal working hours according to the school, which calls for 8 am to 5 pm.