PropertyIndustry Voices

Making a statement with digital signage

Have you ever thought about how digital signage can benefit teachers? Not just the wider school community.

A good digital sign is the first thing teachers, parents and students will see when they pull up to the school gates, after all.  From event reminders, exam countdowns and sports scores, timetable changes and housekeeping updates; to shout outs, birthday messages and positive affirmations. The flexibility of digital signage helps schools create a culture within and around campus.  

Screens can updated or programmed to spur onlookers into action, e.g. Hall flooded, meet in library or School closed for emergency repairs. Check website for updates. Digital signs can also convey important messages to parents or school buses entering the school, with parking information, closure notifications or school traffic updates. Real-time weather forecasts, emergency alerts and messages are also possible with some software programs. Speak with the supplier of your choice to find out what they offer.

Community engagement is one of the eight principles in the New Zealand curriculum that provide a foundation for schools’ decision making. “The principle of community engagement calls for schools and teachers to deliver a curriculum that is meaningful, relevant, and connected to students’ lives,” states the Ministry of Education.

“Community engagement is also about establishing strong home-school partnerships where parents, whānau, and communities are involved and supported in students’ learning. Effective community engagement is imperative in this process.”

A digital sign outside your school can keep the community in touch with what is happening on campus and prepare incoming parents, students, or visitors. A few examples: Shhhh, please. We have exams. Foyer refurb starts next week – use side entrance. or Welcome, friends from France. These are all straight to the point, easy to read and prepare entrees before they walk through the school gates.

Industry insights:

Craig Meldrum, managing director, WiPath Communications, told School News about some of the different electronic signage options and technologies.

There is an unfortunate trend to lump all electronic signage under the umbrella of digital signage actually incorporates several very different technologies and usage. Specifically, outdoor LED signage, indoor LED signage, indoor LCD displays, and electronic scoreboards, as well as electronic whiteboards and so on. Typically:

  1. Communicating with the internal school community, students, parents, teachers
  2. Communicating with the wider community around the school,
  3. Branding the school to attract students
  4. Promoting sponsors to enhance their support

The main shift in schools has been the move from outdoor electronic signage used primarily as a communications tool to a branding exercise. Schools often need to develop a brand and sell themselves to their local community.  The increased resolution and graphical display capabilities now available have also allowed schools to celebrate achievement more publicly.

Many schools have incorporated cultural or environmental aspects into the designs of their outdoor signage.  For example, the electronic signage at Panama Rd Primary was retrofitted to an existing structure with a strong Māori aesthetic that has been blended well with the electronic graphics to continue these themes.

Ngaruawahia High School wanted a sign that would receive the greatest level of community recognition from the wider community and so the sign was installed several kilometres from the school on the main SH1 near the township. In order to best fit this environment we matched the structural elements with the local street furniture themes.

Raglan District School also felt its location was too isolated from the passing community to justify placing an electronic sign on school grounds, so their sign was incorporated into a large community noticeboard on the main road into Raglan.

St Leonards Rd Primary wanted to make a statement in a local school environment that was highly competitive, so we produced a dramatic plinth-style sign with a very large electronic sign incorporated.

The desired purpose often dictates the style of outdoor signs. In some schools, outdoor LED signage is used inside the school grounds as  community noticeboards and for general internal communications on a larger scale.  It can also be used for large video displays. Indoor LED signage is generally used for video wall purposes, where the size requirement precludes the use of LCD displays.

Before investing in electronic signage schools must do their due diligence to ensure they are dealing with a company that puts quality of engineering at the top of their priority list, has a proven track record in business and is going to be around to support the technology over the long term; has the technical capabilities to properly install and support the technology, and has a proven track record working with schools.

Rosie Clarke

Rosie is the managing editor here at Multimedia Pty Ltd, working across School News New Zealand and School News Australia. She has spent 10+ years in B2B journalism, and has spent some time over the last couple of years teaching as a sessional academic. Feel free to contact her at any time with editorial or magazine content enquiries.
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