Digital signage is moving from commerce to education.

Paper flyers are out. Digital signage is in. College students have sent the message loud and clear to their campus IT officials: They want information broadcast on-screen—and recent statistics say decision makers are listening.

Digital signs—usually large, flat-screen TVs—were once used exclusively in common campus areas like the student union.

Today, even small colleges are installing digital signs in buildings across campus, and instead of controlling the messages scrolling across these signs from a central location, IT leaders are giving control to department chiefs who can customize each sign with announcements and news items.

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And recent research shows that 2011 could be the year digital signs become a staple in higher education. More than 2,200 academic sites will add digital signage to their campuses this year, according to Northern Sky Research, a market research and consulting firm based in Massachusetts.

About 1,500 campuses added digital signage in 2010, and more than 8,400 digital signage screens were installed on North American educational sites last year. That number is expected to grow beyond 13,000 screens in 2011, according to Northern Sky Research.

Higher-education officials could have even more insight into campus use of digital signage networks this fall, when the Platt Retail Institute (PRI)—a leading researcher of digital communication tools—will study digital signage on up to 20 campuses nationwide after the company’s research showed that 97 percent of college students prefer digital communication to the traditional paper or static signs.


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