School district unifies communications with digital signage kiosks

Sept. 6, 2012 | by Natalie Gagliordi

System-wide communications across the separate locations of a school district is an imperative task, but one that can be challenging to accomplish. Fragmented communications across a district can result in schools missing the message during emergencies, or failing toconnect for district announcements, schedule changes or severe weather alerts.

A Deleware school district recently found a new way of communicating with a unified voice across a single channel to each school in the district, with the help of digital signage kiosks.

Red Clay Consolidated School District, a K-12 public school system in Wilmington, Del., needed a communication solution to help connect the more than 15,000 students in 28 different schools in a centralized but individualized way. Red Clay chose Los Angeles-based touchscreen kiosk manufacturer SeePoint Technology to design and implement a kiosk-based system, with each school receiving its own kiosk unit.

"These kiosks were created for educators and school districts who wish to speak to their students with one clear voice," said Jonathan Arfin, founder of SeePoint.

Conscious of where the units would be located, SeePoint designed the WallStation kiosks to withstand the rigors of daily use in a school environment — a significant influence on Red Clay's decision to select SeePoint. With no exposed cables, wires or ports on the units, the kiosks are protected from hacking, theft, vandalism and unlawful usage, the company said.

Each kiosk is equipped with a 22-inch digital signage touchscreen that displays the school's individualized content as well as district communications, ranging from events, announcements and videos. The kiosk's WSXGA screen has a maximum display resolution of 1600 x 1050 to accommodate small children or special needs students who might find small screens more challenging.

Nancy Crawford, the Web content specialist for Red Clay, said it was not only the hardware design that appealed to the school district, but also the software — specifically the remote management system, which allows for each school to load unique videos and messages and monitor usage from a central point.

Digital signage kiosks in action

With the new school year off to a fresh start last week, the kiosks began their inauguration in the district and, according to Crawford, the kiosk concept has been a hit with students and parents alike.

"In the elementary schools, students are eager to show their parents what is on the kiosk, whether it be their involvement, their teacher or a friend," she said.

The information on each kiosk consists of five to seven 90-second videos that can include both staff and students and pertain to topics like curriculum, community involvement, uniform policy, sports programs or a message from the principal, Crawford said.

"In the middle and high schools, students and parents use the kiosk to learn about special programs offered like culinary arts, theater, dance and vocal offerings," she said. "It is a great way to have a warm and friendly message available 24/7."

Benefits to other school districts

A kiosk project such as Red Clay's could turn other districts on to the advantages of a kiosk Red Clay kioskcommunication solution, according to Jeff Goldstein, SeePoint vice president of sales.

"A project similar to Red Clay's would be beneficial to any school district," he said. "Information such as class schedules, sports schedules and school events can be displayed on the kiosks using existing websites and other content. By utilizing the existing content, districts will save time and money on the application setup."

With the remote management software, Goldstein said schools could provide real-time information without having manual updates, like emergency alerts or other safety information to students, parents and faculty.

For SeePoint's Arfin, the Red Clay kiosk project was not only a business success, but a personal triumph as well.

"As a parent, it was particularly satisfying to be part of creating a communication system that is not just cost-effective and user-friendly,” he said, "but that has implications for school districts beyond Red Clay."

Read more about digital signage in schools.

Topics: Content Management , Corporate Communication , Education / Schools , Interactive / Touchscreen , Networks

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