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The Evolution of Digital Signage on Higher Ed Campuses


The use of digital signage encourages students to watch and interact with the information

By JT Singh, Deputy CIO & Executive Director, Educational Technologies & User Services, and Teresa Hudson, Assistant Director, Educational Technologies & User Services, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Effectively managing campus communications can be a challenge and digital signage helps institutions provide timely communications to internal and external constituents with a consistent tone and brand. At West Chester University of Pennsylvania (WCU), a comprehensive public institution with a campus community of over 17,000 students and 1,600 employees spread over a 400-acre campus with over 35 academic and residential buildings, we’ve been developing, leveraging, and evolving our digital signage platform over the past eight years with the following goals in mind:

  • Increasing student engagement and thereby student success.
  • Creating and displaying dynamic multimedia content to highlight important campus news and events.
  • Enhancing emergency messaging.

The Information Services and Technology Division first began researching digital signage solutions in 2009, conducted a proof of concept, and finalized a solution that would be cost effective, scalable, secure, and easy to use, deploy, and support. We began our first implementation in select academic buildings, but have since grown to 62 locations throughout the campus. A content management server in the university data center communicates with the individual player PCs that are connected to our network. Customized framesets can be created for departments depending on the size of the monitors ranging from 46” – 80” with tiny PC’s securely rear mounted. Training is provided to departmental staff on how to create and upload content to their specific playlist to be displayed only on those building(s)’ monitors. There is also a University-wide playlist with content that is displayed across all locations. Such training empowers every department on campus to effectively participate in the process of disseminating information.
The use of digital signage encourages students to watch and interact with the information. Curating and sharing student-generated content, for example, excites students who see their groups and interests on various campus platforms. This exposure makes them momentary campus “celebrities,” which encourages them to further engage. The programs like WCU Weekly and Ram Center are considered the number one source of information on campus! We have also used digital signage for managed livestreaming of certain events like the President’s State of the University Address, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) games and commencement ceremonies. The Quad, which is the student news service of WCU, creates mobile journalism video content, which is displayed on digital signage systems and West Chester Community Television (WCCTV) station in Chester County.
We’re also pleased by how our digital signage systems have enhanced emergency messaging. Our WCU Alert communication program has proven to be effective in distributing emergency messages to the university community as well as the public and visitors who are not registered with the university’s emergency notification system. The SMS created by the Department of Public Safety is automatically displayed on all digital signage screens on campus with information or instructions to follow in the event of an emergency.
We recently began deploying monitors with touch screen capabilities, which engages users utilizing the wayfinding feature to navigate through a building or elsewhere on campus, as well as view building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) information as part of our sustainability initiative. We continue to seek new and innovative ways of advancing digital communications to attain our goal of fostering a well-informed, highly engaged campus population.
TJ Sing and Teresa Hudson will co-present “Evolution and Future of Digital Signage at West Chester University of Pennsylvania,” at Digital Signage Expo 2018 on Wednesday, March 28 at 2 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2018, or to learn more about digital signage, go to www.dse2018.
About the Authors
JT Singh currently serves as the Deputy CIO and Executive Director for Educational Technologies and User Services at West Chester University (WCU), providing leadership in planning and implementing technology initiatives. He has a strong background managing a large technology infrastructure with over 15 years of progressively responsible experience in different leadership roles, and possesses excellent working knowledge of the activities, processes, resources, and technologies involved in the academic technology services for higher education environments. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering as well as a Master’s degree in computer science.
Teresa Hudson is the Assistant Director of Educational Technologies and User Services at West Chester University (WCU), where she has worked for the Information Services & Technology Division since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology and currently serves on the WCU Information Services & Technology Division Leadership Team, providing input on current and future campus capital projects such as active learning classrooms and collaborative/interactive technologies. She is responsible for the project management and coordination of end user technologies, including budget planning, procurement, deployment and maintenance of various campus technologies, including end-user hardware and software, virtual applications, digital signage and video observation recording systems.

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