How digital technologies can help you engage with the whole school community

Communication and engagement with students, staff and parents has always been a priority within schools. Printed newsletters, noticeboards and posters are used to provide a simple path to deliver key information to everyone involved. Advances in connectivity, social media and mobile devices over the past 5-6 years have led to a huge increase in demand for access to media within society. Streaming video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have become must-have entertainment packages, and we are all aware of the impact of social video platforms like YouTube. In fact, according to Cisco, by 2019 global consumer internet video traffic will make up around 80% of all consumer internet traffic. Looking at these developments it is easy to understand why staff, parents, and students in particular, now expect access to media in all areas of school life. 

Just over 13 years ago I started work within the media production industry and the last 8 years primarily working within the EdTech space, delivering technology solutions to schools, colleges and universities. During this time I have seen the impact of many different technologies; some have come and gone, but others have become steadfast elements in daily use in modern educational organisations. I believe that the use of media is one of the most effective engagement tools that any organisation - education or otherwise - can use to deliver key messages. Below are a few ways in which schools, in particular, have started to develop the use of media as a key tool for delivering their messages, increasing engagement with students, staff and parents.

Digital signage

Digital signage is a relatively new technology.  It is the digital version of traditional signage and enables schools to turn their televisions and displays into digital notice boards. You will most likely have already seen digital signage in action – screens can commonly be found displaying information in doctors’ surgeries and information boards in local stores.

Digital signage is becoming more popular as it is a much more flexible and engaging system than traditional signage. You can incorporate many modern media formats and information feeds, such as video, photos and news feeds like Twitter, to engage your audience. Modern digital signage systems also allow you to manage all of your screens centrally so you can update them quickly and easily; any screens showing school messages or media will dynamically update as new items are added, making sure your school community sees the most up to date information and content. A lot more effective than pinning notices on walls or notice boards!

The amount of digital signage seen within schools does vary - most schools will have at least an information display in their reception area so they can showcase school news and safety policies to guests. Others utilise digital signage throughout their school, using it for lunch menus, departmental notice boards, video walls, sports fixtures and even running a school TV channel. 

From my experience, schools looking at implementing digital signage should consider systems that offer them:

  • A simple workflow for creating screen designs
     
  • Central management tools, making control easier for IT teams 
     
  • Flexibility to give staff the opportunity to include their own content, like student work or news updates
     
  • An easy way to scale up their digital signage provision – our experience shows that once digital signage is implemented, there is an immediate demand for extending the service throughout the school.

Live streaming

The streaming of school events is something that is definitely a ‘flavour of the month’. Most schools have by now at least dabbled with streaming live events in some way or another. Live streaming lends itself to a number of applications, the most popular being the broadcasting of school events.

Streaming school events live enables everyone in the school community to watch and be part of any school event, even if they cannot physically attend. Students in other classrooms are able to watch, students engaged in remote learning can view from home and parents who cannot attend can
login securely and watch.

Many schools that I have worked with now live stream events such as presentation evenings, school productions and sporting fixtures. Not only can people watch live but also on demand, so if parents are not able to physically attend events, they don’t miss out as they can catch up at a convenient time. Over 15,000 people tuned into the COBIS Games live stream from Sheffield in 2017 to watch students compete in athletics, swimming and football. 

 


There is also the option to combine both live streaming and digital signage technologies together. It is possible to broadcast live events to devices such as computers and tablets and also through digital signage. This essentially allows schools to showcase events as they happen on all their digital signage screens.

For schools looking to stream 
events there are a few things I feel should be considered:

  • Ease of use - a lot of schools have looked at streaming but have been put off by some complex workflows. Video platforms designed for education like Planet eStream do make streaming extremely simple for schools. 
     
  • Security – you will want full control over who has access to view your streams
     
  • Can you keep a recording of your event and how do you deliver this as an on-demand video?
     
  • Make sure viewers can access live streams from any device including phones and tablets

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Matthew Hastings
is a Senior Account Manager at Planet eStream, a unified video platform offering both live streaming and digital signage specifically designed for use within schools. If you would like more information on this and the other features available within Planet eStream then please visit www.planetestream.co.uk If you would like to read more about the impact of video on education, click here to read a whitepaper produced by Matthew last year on this topic. 

  • communications
  • digital
  • digital signage
  • digital technology
  • future schools
  • live streaming
  • marketing
  • School Videos
  • videos