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Ministry of Education Singapore developing public-facing digital shopfronts and a school administration apps marketplace

Ministry of Education Singapore developing public-facing digital shopfronts and a school administration apps marketplace
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At the Smart Nation and Digital Government Industry Briefing, Mr Tan Bee Teck, CIO, Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore spoke about the Ministry’s digital development plans for FY17 during his discussion of the MOE Digital and Procurement Plan.

The Parents Gateway and the Digital Shopfront for Examination Operations fall under the Digital and Data category of the FY17 ICT budget, which was allocated SG$528 million.

Parents Gateway

MOE is in the process of developing a one-stop digital shopfront for parents, called Parents Gateway, to help them manage a wide range of matters related to their children’s school education with greater convenience.

It will provide a consolidated view of events/ programmes and progress of their children to parents, even when they are in different schools. Parents can track their child’s attendance, achievements and awards; PE and health & dietary records and results. The platform also enables registration for co-curricular activities and submission of travel. It will allow parents to communicate with the school and teachers.

hey will also be able to provide consent for school programmes and events digitally, make payments and enquire about bills. Resources available on the Parents Gateway include information for career guidance, cyberwellness, Secondary 1 options and school briefings.

Mobile prototypes have been developed for the platform. The concept of Parents Gateway was announced at the launch of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) last year. The Straits Times reported that it had been tested out at five schools.

MOE seeks to continually improve the quality of services delivered and add features for parents, and will be issuing tenders for product maintenance and enhancement.

Digital Shopfront for Examination Operations

Working together with partners from the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB), MOE is looking to develop a Digital Shopfront for Examination Operations. The objective is to digitise the exam process management and its interfaces with students and teachers.

The public-facing digital services include those targeted at examination candidates and others for teachers who are involved as exam personnel. Candidates will be able to register online for national exams/ centralised tests, purchase statements of results.

Both students and teachers can receive real-time information, alerts and assistance. Teachers will be able to provide declarations and attend briefings and view duty and transport claims online.

Answer scripts will be digitised for online marking. This is expected to help teachers be more consistent and efficient in the way they mark papers.

The tender for this project will be divided into three parts. The first is for the development of exam related digital services for candidates and teachers. The second piece will deal with digitisation and online marking of exam scripts. The last part will deal with the back-end exam administration system. MOE is looking to make the backoffice operations API and data driven  and conduct deeper data analysis.

The tenders for this will be issued over the period from Q2FY17 to FY18.

One-stop learning and development system

MOE is planning for an integrated learning and professional development platform for teachers and MOE HQ staff. It will provide course recommendations based on user profiles and offer personalised information and resources.

One of the objectives of the system is to enable mobile learning on the go. Whenever teachers are taken out of classrooms for training, it is a loss of valuable teaching time. So, MOE wants to enable more byte-size learning through mobiles.

School Administration App Marketplace

MOE provides a single platform, the School Cockpit System to support school administrative processes, in order to school teachers are not inundated with school administration work. However, this one-size-fits-all solution does not meet all requirements of all schools, as the schools operate with significant autonomy. Hence, schools have been reaching out to industry for individual solutions to meet specific needs. This could lead to concerns regarding security and robustness of the individual systems, as they contain sensitive student data. MOE has also received feedback from industry regarding the prohibitively expensive security specifications demanded at times.

To deal with these issues, MOE is planning to build a School Administration App Marketplace. Some of the data from the cockpit system database will be exposed through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to school admin app developers.

A qualified panel of industry players can build the apps and post them in the app marketplace.

This will provide a more integrated process while preserving flexibility. Moreover, the app deployment and data will be centralised and secure. This marketplace will allow schools to innovate together with industry.

Phase 1 is in progress. MOE will issue tenders for the development of the marketplace and for the supply of school admin apps in Q4FY17.

Featured image: Students of Nan Hua High School, Singapore (by mailer_diabloCC BY-SA 3.0)

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