When it comes to communication within schools, there tend to be limited options. There are only so many messages you can broadcast over the PA system, and noticeboards rely heavily on students seeking out information.
In this post, we explore digital signage as a solution for targeting messages to particular classrooms and campuses and discuss how to maximize the benefit of implementing a digital signage platform.
Any marketing strategy needs to strike the right balance between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ messages. One is more commonly used to raise awareness, the other to inform those who already know about your products and services what to do when they need them.
In schools, much of the communication over the last fifty years has been ‘pushed’ out to classrooms through handouts or public address announcements. But these can’t be used for all forms of communication—it would involve too much effort and disruption. As a result, a lot of information, like who made the sports team or how to audition for the school production, is directed towards the school’s noticeboard. The problem with this is it relies on students ‘pulling’ information—actively seeking it out and then telling others about it.
The good news is there’s now an alternative. A way to target content-rich and engaging messaging in a scalable way. It’s called digital signage.
Digital signage is the use of screens, like televisions, projectors, and monitors, to display video or multimedia content for informational purposes. It’s already a mainstay in other environments, like shopping, where 94% of retailers say they use or have used digital signage to enhance the in-store experience.
In the school environment, digital signage is a highly flexible form of communication that can be used for ‘push’ and ‘pull’ communication. It’s a way to simultaneously deliver both essential and non-essential information to a broad but targeted audience.
There are plenty of other features and benefits of digital signage. But, in short, a networked digital signage solution has the following three core features.
Incorporating televisions and projectors into the school’s communication strategy opens up a world of rich media content. Messages can include images, videos, audio, or even social media, which can cycle through in a defined playlist.
These solutions bring the ability to schedule content to run at particular times and target messages to specific areas of the school like groups of or individual classrooms, common areas, or even the entire school. Depending on the chosen solution, it’s even possible for the same message to be broadcast to multiple schools within the same district.
The ability to manage feature settings, users, usage and displays, from a single location in real time.
Digital signage is truly a dynamic communication solution. It offers the ability to tailor messages to particular groups of people. Whereas announcements over the PA system are heard by everyone—regardless of whether the news is relevant or not—digital signage can be targeted to particular groups. Basically, anywhere there is a television, monitor, or projector, a message can be displayed.
There are few statistics around the impact of digital signage on student engagement and participation, but there is certainly evidence of the benefit it brings to other applications. One study claims it can increase sales in retail environments by up to a third.
It’s not hard to understand why; rich media is a real attention grabber. Using digital signage in schools to publicize events, programs, and extra-curricular activities is likely to increase students’ awareness and encourage participation.
Digital signage can add much to emergency communication. Schools with displays in all classrooms can send far more informative and targeted messages than ever before. An alert system designed solely around alarms that change in tone can only indicate a limited number of actions. But one that is accompanied by digital signage can give so much more information.
For that reason, more and more schools are incorporating digital signage into their emergency and evacuation plans. A visual message can be so much more specific. It can tell students and teachers to prepare for evacuation and accompany that message with a map of where to go. What’s more, there are practical benefits to being able to target instructions to specific classes, for example, avoiding them walking out of the classroom and straight into a dangerous situation.
Although the concept of social distancing had been around for 50 years, it was not widely known outside anthropological circles until recently. With the arrival of COVID-19, it became part of the World Health Organisation’s key messages and actions for preventing transmission in schools.
But keeping apart isn’t something that comes naturally to children, especially if they are excited about playing with their friends. They need constant reminders of the need for social distancing, and digital signage offers that. It’s a medium to encourage and reinforce social norms and health etiquette—reinforcing handwashing routines and reminding students to wear face masks and keep their distance.
Not only are visual messages more engaging than handouts or announcements, but they are also more ‘sticky’. A study has shown that three days after receiving a visual message, recipients could still retain about 65% of the information communicated. Those who were simply told the same information could not recall more than 20% after the same interval. In other words, digital signage is an excellent tool if you want your message to hit home.
Digital signage allows messages to be tailored to specific audiences. It can send messages to an individual classroom and scale it up to departments, campuses, and the entire school. There are even examples of school districts in the US that can simultaneously broadcast messages to digital signs in all of their schools.
This ability to target bespoke messages brings significant flexibility. It means digital signage can be used to help new students navigate their way around the campus, or to welcome new parents at an open day. It really is an excellent tool for the school’s marketing and public relations team. For example, at Prendiville Catholic College in Western Australia, they use digital signage to reinforce and celebrate the school’s culture by showing videos and photos of alumni on the library’s five screens.
It’s important to note that while digital signage brings dynamic content to the displays, it comes with a responsibility to ensure the messages are not distracting. Your teachers won’t thank you for interrupting their class constantly with attention-grabbing media.
It is therefore a good idea to have a content strategy in place to define when digital signage will be used and set rules around the design and frequency of messages.
Like any product, there are a range of digital signage solutions on the market. Which is the right tool for your school will depend on how you plan to use digital signage, and on how many screens.
As a minimum, you need to look for the following features:
By itself, the ROI on digital signage can be difficult to lock down. But when the platform brings additional benefits, it can make the investment decision simpler. For example, any screen in a Vivi-enabled school can be used for digital signage without the need for additional software. The added benefit is that Vivi is the world’s leading screen mirroring solution and will help you improve the way students engage in their learning.
Digital signage is a flexible and scalable way to target communication to a specific audience. You’ll increase the reach and even the retention of the messages you create, and you will likely see benefits in student participation and engagement as a result.
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