Digital signage shouldn't be used just as a digital bulletin board on campus.
An advanced digital signage system won’t just keep the campus community informed — it will attract students impressed by the tech-savviest of higher-education institutions.
From music to politics to technology, higher-education institutions have always been a proving ground, a place where new concepts are tested and often become commonplace in society.
Not surprisingly, some colleges and universities are again ahead of the curve, this time in adopting new approaches that deliver unified communications (UC), specifically harnessing the convergence of digital signage and video.
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Those in higher education have made substantial investments in communications technology on their campuses, ranging from video and teleconferencing, to digital signage, to full-blown broadcast studios and more.
These vast existing resources, when coupled with a student base and campus culture prone to embrace video, places colleges in a prime position to dramatically enhance their use of UC.
Not only will this result in more impactful, cost-efficient communications that unify thousands of students and staff simultaneously, because video can be easily integrated and managed—but savvier institutions will find themselves on the fast track to improving their reputations as academic leaders and attracting potential students.
One of the greatest opportunities for doing so is with digital signage.
We’ve come to expect digital signage in large public places, sporting venues, airport terminals, and of course, retail storefronts. Campuses, too, have long been using digital signage, but until now it has been only as a form of electronic bulletin board – a way to post notices.
However, as a few institutions are discovering, the integration of video into digital signage creates a dynamic medium with far greater potential.
What were once important but pedestrian messages, such as simple text and static visuals, become vivid and have far greater impact when video is incorporated. A performing arts event takes on new meaning. Highlights from a heated baseball season boost attendance at the upcoming game.
The significance of visiting guest lecturers is detailed in riveting, historic context. As a result, the occasional TV monitor hanging in a dormitory common area is now only the start of a sophisticated network at some colleges–ones that also feature large flat screens at stadiums, marquees on the outside of buildings, and more.
UC systems incorporating digital signage, video, and more allow for the delivery of different messages at different times and at different places.
Equally important, emergency notifications can be broadcast immediately throughout a campus. The same applies to the delivery of important breaking national and international news.
Digital signage on campus is also becoming interactive, with some colleges integrating social media such as their Facebook pages and Twitter handles, allowing students to provide comments from smart phones and laptops.
Students are responding to specific questions with valuable input and answering polls. Taking it one step further, some institutions are providing Quick Response codes, driving promotions to students with such things as discounted tickets and coupons for various stores.
Video driving student enrollment
The use of video within a UC strategy holds additional benefits as well. Institutions can extend their reach globally through distance learning, and with live streaming or on-demand video, enrollment can be significantly increased.
Tuition costs continue to rise and many students and families are seeking alternative ways to obtain a degree. Remote learning is allowing this to happen by offering courses online at less cost per credit hour, providing an education without the room/board and other expenses that accompany on-campus living.
Through video, a professor can teach a wider audience without greater effort, using assistants to facilitate remote students. On the heels of an economic recession, those institutions that fail to participate in distance learning will be left far behind.
There is a great deal more collaboration between higher education institutions these days, and a UC system incorporating video can facilitate this.
Community colleges can offer courses from other institutions using live or on-demand video. Professors are actually starting to syndicate lectures. Sister-universities overseas can enjoy tighter affiliation with and greater access to the courses and resources of their larger, more notable partners.
Not only is this happening at some institutions, it is beginning to move downstream with a few high schools and charter schools testing the waters.
Now, graduate students are also using video to share and build upon research.
Particularly at places such as teaching hospitals, researchers are using video to detail results and complete peer reviews, while inviting others worldwide to collaborate and advance their efforts in a rich media format. Not only does this approach allow for greater progress, it is a marketable capability.
It’s also important to note that due to recent developments in technology, integrating video into an effective UC platform is not the challenge it once was. Past issues such as bandwidth concerns can now be overcome with a proper network architecture, technology approach and solid Quality of Service strategy.
Software can now turn a simple PC desktop into an easy-to-use, powerful suite capable of fully managing video and UC systems, enabling a single person to effectively control an institution’s communications.
A UC system, linking such things as digital signage and video, creates the definitive source of information on a campus. It not only unifies an institution and transforms its communications, it can drive enrollment and generate profit–and marketing-wise, it adds to a reputation in ways that are not lost on potential students, families, and donors.
President and CEO of BurstPoint Networks, Tom Racca, is a noted high technology entrepreneur and visionary. BurstPoint Networks is the leading provider of video communications solutions.