Digitally preparing schools for the future.
NSW Department of Education connects with communities by moving thousands of school websites to Adobe Experience Manager.
Make it easy for schools to manage and publish web content
Personalise digital experiences to help people find critical information faster
Syndicate global content across thousands of school websites
Adopt a robust, reliable digital experience platform
Migrated 2,200 school websites to Adobe Experience Manager Sites in 13 months
Broadcasted closure alerts to thousands of websites within five minutes during a crisis
Deliver relevant information to parents or staff using personalisation
Supported a 100% increase in website traffic, with up to 1.8 million visitors monthly
“Connected” is a word that comes up frequently when Peter Buckmaster speaks—and understandably so. As director of digital experience design for New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education, Buckmaster supports a massive transformation that’s all about connection. Connecting schools and teachers with digital resources. Connecting parents with the right information. And most importantly, connecting students with the digital skills they need to succeed.
NSW Department of Education serves 800,000 students across 2,200 schools – each with its own website. School websites are an important piece of the digital strategy, providing a consistent point of contact between schools and their communities. But schools have limited time and resources, and it typically falls to teachers and principals to keep websites updated.
“Our goal was to create a connected network of school websites, standardise digital content and experiences, and start down a path toward increasing personalisation,” says Buckmaster. “At the same time, we needed to make it easy for schools to publish and manage their own content.”
2,200 schools migrate to the 21st century
NSW Department of Education implemented Adobe Experience Manager Sites Managed Services as the foundation for its network of school websites. “We created a hub-and-spoke model that allows us to syndicate content across thousands of sites,” says Buckmaster. “We migrated 2,200 school websites, as well as our own intranet and public site, Education NSW.”
Adobe Customer Solutions used customer-centred design thinking and agile methodology to produce results fast. After a six-week discovery process, the Adobe team built ready-to-use templates and components with easy drag-and-drop functionality to make it easy for schools to customise their digital experiences. The team also trained 6,500 staff on how to manage content for their sites.
Adobe Experience Manager centralises website management and consolidates assets for more consistent messaging around state-wide policies and announcements. A central content team can push global content out to all school sites, 1,300 Facebook pages, and mobile apps from a central location within minutes. From back-to-school campaigns to help parents and students get ready for school to health and safety messaging that outlines requirements, all schools receive the same information for their news feeds.
NSW Department of Education comms and engagement team ran a maths campaign across school locations called Maths Trains Brains, designed to get parents to engage in maths with their children. The team used Experience Manager to build a content repository where parents could access content and get comfortable with concepts. It also included educational content on everyday topics, such as maths in cooking, architecture, and money that parents could work through with their children.
At the same time, schools maintain control over local content and the look and feel of their sites. Thousands of content authors learned to use the templates and components to publish news and updates for students and their families. Since the beginning of the project, the organisation has created 1.5 million digital assets and published 1.6 million web pages.
A consolidated library of high-resolution images and videos in Adobe Experience Manager Assets reins in different versions of assets published across different sites and in multiple device-specific formats. Adobe Experience Manager Assets also saves the organisation time by automatically compressing files and allowing them to track asset usage.
“The ultimate goal is mass personalisation across web and mobile, with content specific to the location, situation, and needs of each visitor.”
Director of Digital Experience Design, NSW Department of Education
A new rubric for personalisation in education
With thousands of schools in NSW, personalisation is key to helping people find relevant information faster. Parents often visit Education NSW looking to enroll their children in school. The school finder directs parents to the right school based on their enrolment area so that they can quickly learn about the school, look through curriculum, read enrolment policies, and get directed to the online enrolment experience.
An online staff notice board highlights news relevant to each member of the staff based on their particular role, school, and region. An upcoming mobile app will provide a similar function for parents by collecting all of their children’s information in one location. Parents will no longer need to switch between school websites to check deadlines, pay fees, or read important notices for multiple children.
“The ultimate goal is mass personalisation across web and mobile, with content specific to the location, situation, and needs of each visitor,” Buckmaster says.
“Having a robust, reliable platform is essential to keeping our school and communities connected during difficult times.”
Director of digital experience design, NSW Department of Education
NSW schools are tested by disaster
In November 2019, bushfires tore across New South Wales, forcing the organisation to close schools. Only a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to close. Millions of people visited Education NSW – a clear sign that people needed information.
Throughout the pandemic, schools have closed and reopened multiple times, often with rules changing depending on the region. People relied on NSW Department of Education to provide information on school closures and support resources.
“Delivering content in the right context at the right time, is important even in normal circumstances,” says Buckmaster. “The bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic provided a real-world test of our ability keep people informed under crisis conditions rapidly and on a large scale.”
In short order, NSW Department of Education deployed alert banners to every school website. Using content fragments within Experience Manager Sites, the team broadcasted the alerts to 500 sites at once.
The organisation syndicated content across school sites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and even TV news, directing people back to a central page for all official updates and policies. It also launched a new mobile app, where teachers, staff, and parents can get up-to-the-minute status updates on school closures.
“Website traffic has increased 100% since I started at NSW Department of Education. We have 1.2 million to 1.8 million visitors every month, with 20,000 concurrent users at any given time,” says Buckmaster. “Having a robust, reliable platform is essential to keeping our school and communities connected during difficult times.”