Verifiable Classroom Voting

In today’s Teaching and Learning 2014 Conference, I presented a talk on “Enforcing Teaching and Learning with Electronic Voting” (Slides). This talk summarizes our last two years’ work on developing a smart-phone based Verifiable Classroom Voting (VCV) system and experience of trialing it in real classroom teaching (with positive student feedback which can be viewed here and here near the bottom of the questions).

The VCV system is built based on a cryptographic protocol called DRE-i, which ensures the integrity of the tallying results without involving any trusted tallying authorities. Voters are able to independently verify if their votes have been actually captured by the system and correctly tallied without compromise on voter privacy. To the best of our knowledge, the developed system is the first in the world – none of the commercially available classroom voting systems permits public verifiability as ours does.

Encouraged by the positive student feedback, our ultimate aim is to make the system freely available to teachers in any university or school worldwide to help enhance teaching and learning in a classroom. At the moment, we are still at a trial stage. Limited by the available resource, the system is currently only available to those who have valid Newcastle University campus accounts.

If you are a member of the teaching staff in the university, and would like to trial the system in your class, follow the brief instructions below.

Before the class:

  • Log on as a coordinator (using your campus ID)
  • Create an election under the “Creation Election” tab
  • Take note of the election ID generated by the system at the end of the election creation. (An example of the election ID is: 4535)

Voting in the class

  • Inform the students the election ID and an optional passcode
  • Ask students to visit with the provided election ID and passcode (if any)
  • Alternatively, students may vote using mobile phone apps (free iPhone app available here and Android app here)

Displaying the results

  • Log on using your campus ID
  • Go to the “Manage Elections” tab. Next to the election ID, choose “End Election” from the “Action” drop-down menu
  • Go to the home page, enter election ID and then choose “View results”

PowerPoint Plug-In: Normally, “Displaying the results” requires the use of a web browser. But that means you need to swap the presentation modes between the PowerPoint and a web browser. For a smoother presentation,  you can install a PowerPoint plug-in (freely available at SourceForge) which inserts an IE browser in one PowerPoint slide, so you can  stay in the PowerPoint slideshow throughout the presentation.

Special-interest group: If you would like to join us to further the trials of classroom voting for pedagogical purposes, please get in touch. We may set up a mailing list for the special-interest group if there is sufficient interest.

Acknowledgement: This research work is kindly supported by Newcastle University UTLSEC Innovation Fund (2012) and ERC Starting Grant (2013-2018). Dylan Clarke developed the back-end server, initial web interface and iPhone app. Carlton Shepherd developed the initial Android app and helped improve the web interface. Ehsan Toreini developed the PowerPoint plugin and helped improve the web interface.

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