Digital signage in schools can transform the way universities communicate with students, staff and visitors. However, just like any new venture, a university’s approach to digital signage must start with a well-thought plan. Heading straight to the technology without a clear objective could mean a fragmented effort, squandering the full potential of a proper digital signage implementation. Universities must consider these three key areas before jumping right into digital signage: having a clear set of goals, choosing the right hardware and software and creating a good content strategy.
Having a Clear Set of Goals
Before implementing digital signage solutions for schools, be sure to have a clear set of goals. For instance, will you use digital signage to facilitate classroom learning, centralize campus communication or promote campus offerings such as specials at the bookstore or café? Maybe you want to use digital signage to acknowledge staff and student achievements or highlight donor contributions? Whatever the reason may be, having a clear set of goals will ultimately determine the design of your digital signage solution.
To make sure you have the right goal in mind, follow Peter Drucker’s management by objectives approach. According to Drucker, goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). For example, digital signage in schools can focus on optimizing campus communication (i.e., specific). To measure this, introduce basic key performance indicators (KPIs) that can gauge communication such as increased awareness and changes in behavior. Your target KPIs must be attainable, realistic and time-bound (i.e., increased awareness of campus volunteer work by 30% in six months).
Choosing the Right Hardware and Software
The design of digital signage solutions for schools is determined by your objectives. If your goals are clear and direct, Visual Communications experts can propose solutions and installations that would help you attain such an objective.
For example, when Four Winds Interactive (FWI) was engaged by West Virginia University to centralize their digital signage system, they had a clear goal in mind. The university needed a digital signage solution with flexible templates and content publishing that could help increase user interactivity. In response, FWI proposed a combination of hardware and software that fit, particularly its Content Manager Desktop (CMD), Content Player, FWI Services and Integration Framework. FWI also integrated with the university’s database to enable timely publishing of content by using live data from XML, RSS calendar feeds and e2campus. For the hardware, FWI proposed the use of Samsung, TSItouch, ELO and NUC.
To optimize FWI’s digital signage, West Virginia University installed the displays in areas with high foot traffic, such as WVU Health and Education Building and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences. And because FWI's CMD is flexible, it enabled various users to access and update content databases, empowering the right people to update their own content.
Creating a Good Content Strategy
The last, yet perhaps the most important aspect of successful digital signage solutions for schools is content. Without relevant and timely information, universities will not reap the intended benefits. Digital signage is a perfect way to display graphically rich content such as videos, slides, pictures and animated graphics. However, in order to optimize the content’s value, the type of information that the digital signage displays should be appropriate to where it is installed. For example, having digital signage placed in university corridors means that staff and students would probably spend a maximum of 15 seconds looking at it while moving down the hall. As such, it is best to use a slideshow of images each displaying for 7.5 seconds so that on an average, a student or staff passing by would be exposed to two of them.
The type of content published also depends on the goal of digital signage in schools. For example, content that aims to inform or educate students, entertain visitors and promote school services are some of the things that Visual Communications experts can work on. The age, gender and mindset of the target audience is another factor, as staff, students and visitors each have their own cognitive bias as to what they find entertaining or valuable. Remember to implement a consistent content update or publishing schedule so information that doesn’t come directly from a database or RSS feed is kept up-to-date.
Having a clear set of goals, choosing the right hardware and software and having a set content strategy in place are a few things universities should consider before implementing digital signage. Be sure to keep this in mind before implementing any digital signage solutions for schools in order to maximize the system’s benefit. For more information about how to use digital signage in universities, check out our recent post, How Digital Signage is Transforming Education.