Help Students Learn Your Campus with Digital Signage Scavenger Hunts

School is starting. New students need to get oriented while returning students might need their memories refreshed. Use your campus digital signage solution to get them moving about your grounds, interacting with one another, and finding out what’s where by creating a scavenger hunt.

And not just universities can use this idea – in September of 2015, the Digital Signage Federation in Toronto created a meet-and-greet business networking scavenger hunt at Yorkdale Shopping Center, where participants used interactive digital displays, video walls, menu boards and more to get to know one another’s businesses. In June the same year, the International Customer Experience Summit did something similar in Chicago.

The concept is simple – let the players create teams, and give them a list of things they need to find, which they then have to present at the finish line at a certain time, with cool prizes for the winners. Get people excited and make a splash by advertising the hunt on your digital signage screens. Show off the prizes to encourage participation, and give a URL or QR tag in the message so people can easily register. The hunt list could then be texted to participants in advance, or emailed to them after signing up.

Location, Location, Location
First, think about what the students might need to know in the coming year – where the cafeteria is, the bookstore, the library, the sports center, and so on. You want to make it far ranging, so that all key areas get covered, and so that, by the time the game is over, your students will have physically visited each area at least once. This can create “body memory” for them, making it easier to find those places again later in the school year.

If you have interactive wayfinding incorporated into your campus digital signage solution, students can use this to find the shortest routes from one place to another, plus become familiar with the wayfinding system at the same time.

Itemizing the Items
Do you want participants to have to get physical things from different places? If so, you could hide the items in the locations, so the whole thing is like a grown-up Easter Egg hunt, or you could have them ask people for them.

Another, cheaper way to do it is to have them simply take a picture – everyone has a smartphone these days, and certainly at least one person on each team will, so it makes the logistics easy. It also allows you to easily include outdoor locations – like, “Take a picture of the statue of the school founder down by the lake”.

To make organization even easier, you could leave it up to each department to decide what needs to be “found” in each place. So, the football coach might decide that the players need to know where the locker rooms are, while the biology department might want a picture of a lumbricus terrestris (which is an earthworm – students would have to look it up).

You could also make it an information hunt, with a list of questions that students ask staff at each location. This is a great way to give them even more useful guidance about their new surroundings. You could also let them collect things they’ll need their first semester, like vending coupons or instructions for signing up for email alerts.

Put lots of variety in your list – some things might be easy, others quite difficult or hard to find. You can also have them make something and then bring it or take a picture (so, the Art Department might contribute an item “Draw a self-portrait”, or an item might be “take a picture [or video] of one of your teammates skipping a rock across the pond”). Each team member will have different interests and skills, so try to cover a broad range of things so everyone can participate, have fun, and help their team out.

Each item could be worth a single point for each one, or you could give extra points for more difficult or time-consuming things.

What Kind of Hunt?
A scavenger hunt is usually a list of items to get, a time limit, and a clear indication of where the hunt ends. A treasure hunt is usually a series of clues or riddles that take people on a predetermined path towards some final goal. These two ideas are often combined – for example, some of the list items could be riddles that give a clue as to where the finish line is.

The possibilities are endless – you can have a free form hunt, with participants going through the list in any order they like. You can have a predetermined order for the items (though this can cause chaos as 300 students descend on a specific location at the same time. One way to get around this is to have several version of the treasure hunt, with Version A having things in one order, and Version B having things is a different order, etc.). You can have an alphabetical list (where the things to get or photograph starts with A, then B, then C, etc.) A few quick internet searches will yield dozens of ideas.

You can also partner with local businesses that would like to attract your students as clientele. Something as simple as “Go to Happy Beans Roasters on Main Street and get a loyalty card from Stan” lets the participants know that there’s a student-friendly café nearby. They already have their (free) loyalty card, and so are more likely to go there throughout the semester. And you could charge Happy Bean a small fee for participating, offsetting your own costs. It’s a win for you, a win for the student and a win for the café.

Get Versed with Lists
One way to deliver the hunt lists is to email the whole thing to each participant or team leader and let them go on their way. Another way is to slowly release items at set intervals – maybe you start with five things to get everyone started, but they know that in 10 minutes, they will get another couple of items added to the list. This could be via text messages, displayed on specific digital signage screens near checkpoints, or posted on social media. The students could go to the web on their phones, or you could display new clues using social media feeds on your digital signs.

Materials and Prizes
If you are going to have the students collect physical things, be sure to supply them with a bag (a school tote or something), and a small notepad and pencil for taking notes. If you’re doing a photo hunt, make sure that each team has at least one person who has a phone with a camera, and that the phone’s battery is charged.

And make the prizes something worthwhile – discount vouchers to things like the campus bookstore or café are always welcome for money-conscious students, food and drink are also something they’d like. School gear like shirts, and hats make great prizes – especially things students might want to have but won’t allow themselves to spend money on. When they walk around campus with the sweatshirt they won at the scavenger hunt, they’re showing school spirit and advertising spirit gear to the rest of the student body.

Have a good team of judges to verify what the teams find. If it was a picture scavenger hunt, make it clear from the beginning that each picture must be somehow unique (a different angle, etc.), so they don’t share pictures among themselves and miss the important stops and info on the route.

Remember that the main point of this is to create a fun event for students to get to know their campus, the staff and each other. If done correctly, this is something everyone will be talking about for months after the hunt is over. And you’ve also got them used to looking to your campus digital signage for information, which will carry over into the school year.