When people think about the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore, schools, teachers and students are usually the first to come to mind. As such, it is often easy to overlook the administrators and people working behind the scenes to improve on educational policies and work policies.
To combat this misconception, MOE uses the platform MOE ExCEL Fest to celebrate and share exciting, innovative practices in schools. However, its target audience MOE staff, educators, students and the public were starting to tire from seeing the same content every year.
This led the ministry to launch its "MOE ExCEL Fest 2017" campaign, which allowed it to clinch a Gold award in Best Event - Government Sector and Silver for the category Best Event - Use of Mobile/Apps at the most recent Marketing Excellence Awards 2017 Singapore. This post was done in conjunction with Twist Media.
The Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore, uses the platform MOE ExCEL Fest to celebrate and share exciting, innovative practices in schools. It is a large-scale, professional-sharing event for teachers, by teachers.
As the event had been a staple for its target audience – MOE staff, educators, students and the public – for many years, they were tired of seeing the same content every year. They also had a misconception of what MOE stood for, often equating the ministry to only teachers and students, while the "silent contributors" who had worked behind the scenes to enhance policies and work processes were unacknowledged.
At the same time, educators had contributed many ideas and innovations to help students in their learning over the years, but they did not come to fruition due to lack of funding and other resources. An event highlight, Innovation Adoption Platform (IAP), was introduced in the past but failed to achieve MOE's objectives.
Recognising that past exhibitions were heavy in content and therefore, tended to lose visitors' attention quickly, the team decided to design the exhibition around the main concept – Engagement.
Focusing on user experience, the team achieved this by creating an immersive experience that allowed visitors to interact with exhibits and engage in activities that offered a whole new experience.
Two broad areas – Experience and Engagement – were conceptualised to differentiate this year's event from the past. Firstly, interactive exhibits rather than static display panels were designed to draw and retain visitors' attention. Secondly, to offer visitors a brand new experience, engagement activities were used for a fun and memorable time.
The creative thought process depended less on branding, but more on the experience and talking points it wanted visitors to leave the event with. Most importantly, it wanted them to remember the key takeaways that MOE had set out for them.
Taking into account the problems observed in the past, three key objectives were set for the 2017 event:
- Create a completely different experience, with talking points during or after the event
- Acknowledge the "unsung heroes" who have supported MOE behind the scenes
- Create an IAP that truly engages the visitors
The execution of the 2 "E"s – Experience and Engagement concept included:
- Interactive exhibits
Static displays were minimised, and a ‘Call-to-Action’ approach was used. While still heavy in content, most exhibits were designed for interactive viewing. Contents were hidden and could only be reviewed with an action-like slide to read further, thus encouraging visitors to be hands-on.
Where static contents were necessary, the team incorporated technology such as a Rotoscope. Static panels displayed thought-triggering questions rather than chunky content, which prompted visitors to interact with the digital screen that was hovered over the static panels. Answers were revealed each time the screen hovered over the panels. Furthermore, contents were rendered into animated infographics or videos so that viewing became more engaging.
- Engagement activity
For the first time, an event app was developed. Other than basic event information, it had two features – Augmented Reality (AR) game and Innovation Adoption Platform (IAP).
The AR game aimed to engage visitors throughout the exhibition by inviting them to find answers (hidden in the exhibits) to the questions asked in the game, thus encouraging them to read the exhibit contents. The app was also used for IAP as a means of gathering inputs digitally. Rather than using hardcopies as done in past years, visitors used the app to submit their interest on ideas they wished to adopt from the exhibitors. The data was captured real-time and easily retrievable by MOE.
- A digital social wall
The team wanted visitors to reflect on their learnings after viewing the exhibits. Knowing the challenges of getting feedback, a digital "social wall" was built to capture visitors' real-time reflections before they exited the exhibition. They were invited to pen down their reflections on iPads, which could be swiped digitally and real-time onto the LED wall. These reflections were translated into visual art by artists who sketched them out on a blank canvas. Visitors could choose their preferred design recording of their reflections, which were then printed instantly for them to take home as a memento.
This saw more than 10,000 people attending during the two-day event. The initial reactions from the visitors were, “Wow! So refreshing!”, “Looks so different this year!”. Visitors were also seen constantly on the move with their mobiles, actively engaging in the AR game and actually reading the exhibits.
The IAP was the exhibition highlight and a KPI of the event. To MOE, teachers’ interests in adopting their colleagues' ideas are important, as they indicate their progression towards innovation, receptiveness to changes and alignment with MOE’s policies. But people usually find filling up a feedback form a chore. With the IAP made available to visitors via the event app, coupled with the staff's pro-activeness, more than 1,000 feedbacks were gathered without having to give out a single freebie! Some even waited patiently for the iPads to be available to share their thoughts. Feedbacks gathered were largely positive.
The digital wall brought an interactive element to the visitors as they could take home a print-out of their reflections. These printouts were used as a KPI for the target audience's learning, and also allowed MOE to capture feedback on how to improve the exhibition over time.