The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has partnered with Microsoft India to digitally encrypt question papers for Class 10 and 12 examinations. This initiative was undertaken to enhance security and seamless distribution of the papers. The solution was successfully tested as a pilot project in the recently held Class 10 compartmental examinations, across 487 examination centers with approximately 4,000 students.
The Controller of Examination can track the entire process using a software solution built on Windows 10 and Office 365. The overall process was automated to be highly secure with encryption, two-factor authentication and access to download the exam papers at the examination center only 30 minutes prior to start time.
The solution leverages features in Office 365 to encrypt and watermark the papers. The watermark has the individual center’s code imprinted on it which allows for localisation and traceability in the eventuality of a paper leak. A CBSE administrator initiates the distribution of exam papers, which results in the generation of emails to the respective centers with a link to One Drive where an exam paper, specific to the exam center can be downloaded. This digitization process saves significant time and cost for exam administrators due to online paper generation, automated delivery process and reduction in approval cycles.
Commenting on the partnership Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) Private Limited said, “A strong education ecosystem is key to our nation’s development and Microsoft and CBSE are deeply committed to digitally transform the sector. Innovative implementation of technology has the potential to solve some of the most pressing issues faced by the sector. The success of this partnership with CBSE is proof of that potential. I am confident we are well on the way towards a digitally empowered education ecosystem.”
For the pilot test, multiple mock trials were conducted before the Class 10 compartmental examination date, with the entire CBSE team including various exam centers along with Microsoft experts to ensure seamless adoption and familiarity with the process. The solution was deployed by CBSE without a security breach. Widespread adoption of this solution can transform the education sector and essentially change the way students in India take their exams.
Microsoft is working closely with public and private institutions to help modernize education, impart ICT skills training and provide low or no cost technology that helps students with immersive learning, educators with engaging teaching methods, and administrators with efficient management tools.
How does the system work?
The system allows the Controller of examination to track the entire process using a software solution built on Windows 10 and Office 365. The overall process is encrypted and a two-factor authentication process is embedded. So examiners will have to identify themselves before they can download the examination papers. They are allowed to download the papers (after authetification) only 30 minutes prior to start of the exams.
“The system allows various authentification process. For example, it can be OTP (one-time password) based or biometric based. It is up to the clients what two authentification process they want to choose,” Bhansali added. “The authentification can even be Aadhaar-based,” said the Microsoft executive.
The solution leverages features in Office 365 to encrypt and watermark the papers. The watermark has the individual center’s code imprinted on it which allows for localisation and traceability in the eventuality of a paper leak.
A CBSE administrator initiates the distribution of the examination papers, which results in the generation of emails to the respective centres with a link to OneDrive, a file-hosting service operated by Microsoft, where an exam paper, specific to the exam centre can be downloaded.
Apart from securing the system, this digitisation process is expected to save significant amount of time and cost for examination administrators due to online paper generation, automated delivery process and reduction in approval cycles.
“The system that we have developed for CBSE can be easily replicated for other boards or examination administrators. We will be happy to share it with other central or state authorities that conduct examinations for various purposes,” Anil Bhansali told IANS.