A Blockchain-Based Robotic Process Automation Mechanism in Educational Setting

A Blockchain-Based Robotic Process Automation Mechanism in Educational Setting

Nhlanhla Andrew Sibanyoni (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6650-3.ch002
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Abstract

Blockchain technology and robotic process automation are increasingly the focus of attention in research, as these are both used successfully in business, marketing, manufacturing, and finance. However, their application in educational contexts is still emerging. This chapter uses an illustrative example of an online school registration system to explore how a blockchain-based robotic process automation mechanism can resolve the inherent challenges. The proposed system allows parents to register their Grade 1 and Grade 8 children for their school of choice. There is competition for places in certain schools and a history of unfair allocation of educational resources; hence, there is mistrust. To counter this threat, this study proposes a blockchain-based robotic automation process mechanism to fairly and transparently allocate educational resources. It recommends that further design science research be conducted in which the blockchain is supplemented by additional technological processes to enhance data-sharing in educational settings.
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Background

Parents are encouraged to register their children through the online system as depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Current Illustration of Online School Registration System Process

978-1-7998-6650-3.ch002.f01

As part of the process, copies of certified documents, such as a birth certificate, identification document, school report cards from previous grades, and proof of residence, must be attached. The system also requires parents to ‘take a picture of the registration process’ as proof of registration and to submit hard copies of the documents submitted to the school on the same day (Gauteng Province, 2020). This additional process (that appears on left of Figure 1) may be intended to verify information provided and hence to lessen deliberate submission of misinformation and to check that online data has not been tampered with (Arslan, Jurdak, Jelitto & Krishnamachari, 2019). Parents can use a variety of devices to access the system (cellphones, laptops, desktop computer; as shown at the top part of Figure 1). The system has an intensive period of data input (with a fixed start and end times).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cryptography: Also known as cryptology, it is the practice and study of techniques to ensure protect information and secure communications using codes such that only the intended recipient can read and process it.

Public-Key Cryptography: Also known as asymmetric cryptography, it is a method of encrypting data with two pairs of keys, namely, public key which is available for anyone to use, and the private key known only to the owner.

Algorithm: This refers to a procedure or finite list of instructions or rules, normally followed by a computer, to calculate and solve a mathematical problem. It refers to a finite sequence which is computer-implementable instructions to perform a computation.

Blockchain Technology: It refers to a system that records information transparently and with consensus from other participants that make information immutable or difficult to change. It refers to a database that contains all the historical records that are publicly available and accessible to all the participants.

Online School Registration System: An Internet system which provides for parents to electronically register their grade 1 and grade 8 children in a South African school. It is an e-service or e-government implemented by the Gauteng department of education to allocate scarce educational resources.

Internet of Things: This refers to a system of interconnected and interrelated devices, network, software, electronics, mechanical and digital machines which are embedded with sensors to enable them to automatically collect and exchange data without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Mechanism: It is a small part in a larger process or mechanical system to perform a specific function, in other words, a system of parts working together within a machine. Mechanism maybe an entire mechanical system.

Database: Refers to an organised collection of data or information stored in a structured form, usually in a computer, and accessed electronically from a computer system. It is controlled through a database management system and is modelled in rows and columns in a series of tables for efficient processing and querying of data.

E-Government: It is defined as the use of information communication and technology such as mobile devices, computers, and the internet to effectively and efficiently provide public or government services to citizens, businesses and other persons in a country.

Artificial Intelligence: This refers to machines that are programmed to simulate human intelligence, think like humans, and mimic their actions such as interpreting and detecting deviations in data, as well as problem-solving.

Swarm Robotics: This refers to how swarm robotics algorithms can be designed to solve problems by learning from natural systems like swarms of birds, mammals, bees, or fish. It refers to the collective behaviour that is either natural or artificial of decentralised coordinated systems.

Robotic Process Automation: Refers to a computer software or robot or bot that can be configured to mimic human actions with business systems to perform a business process. The steps used to train a software robot are illustrative.

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