How to Create a Digital-First University

If the last year proved anything, it’s that digital transformation was more ‘need’ than ‘want’. But now is the time for a greater digital maturity. Especially in the education sector.

Jun 2021

How to Create a Digital-First University

The world is more online than ever before. Especially after last year. And out of the restrictions came a need for digital transformation in every area of our lives, from food shopping to education; there was just no other way to go about things. 

But now that standards have been redefined for a ‘new normal’ – and a change in our expectations and behavior as a result – it is becoming increasingly important to keep up with the changes; capture the rapid digital transformation of last year and become digitally mature with it. 

This is especially true of the education sector. Now that students are returning to campus with an increased digital-first mindset, universities have to follow suit. But how? 

Digital signage and the education sector

(While you’re here, check out our starter guide to digital signage for universities as well as 10 campus digital signage content ideas). 

Becoming a digital-first university means changing how you see, use and think about digital technology. This is the starting point of digital transformation: strategy with a purpose.  

Many schools undergo digital transformation without really realizing it; the switch from blackboard to whiteboard to smart board is an example of this. Conducting lessons via Zoom is another. 

But digital signage’s role within the education sector  hasn’t really been considered. Until now. 

Here are some examples of how digital signage can supercharge your facility’s digital transformation without need for hefty investment, in either hardware or tech skills.

Digital signposting

One of the beauties of digital signage (and ScreenCloud for that matter) is that it can be edited in real-time and act as one source of “truth”. The most impactful content is correct – and timely – content. And nothing needs to be more correct than signposting.

Screens are natural attractors. It’s a familiar medium. Which makes it an effective one. Placing screens in logical locations – like outside of a room, in the corridor or in the canteen – guarantees good dwell time. 

While we delve more into the benefits of using digital signage for wayfinding here, these are some examples of how North Valley Baptist Schools in Silicon Valley uses ScreenCloud for digital signposting: 

  • Inform both staff and students on campus of daily, weekly and upcoming events
  • Share announcements and reminders
  • Recognize student achievement
  • Share students’ digital projects
  • Celebrate school and student milestones
  • Promote departmental social media feeds
  • Share travel information including  bus and train timetables around the school area
  • Rent out space within the school to increase revenue
  • Share information that can promote discussion in class (currency rates, world news etc.)

“Digital signage has also been a terrific way for my media students to learn graphic design skills and then be able to show off their handiwork in real-time. Their assignments are for the “real world,” and I’ve enjoyed seeing each student take careful, diligent ownership of our screens on campus.” 

Digital communication

While printed prospectuses, letters and noticeboards  still have their place, they don’t quite have the reach – or affordability – of digital communications. And it is the immediate nature of these communications that we have come to expect as the norm over the past year. 

Using digital signage for digital communications can be used for anything, from emergency announcements, faculty news and event countdowns to live-broadcasting sporting events or dramatic productions. 

Social media can also play a role here; it is not unlike ScreenCloud. With the right login, you can create, curate and upload content from anywhere. You can also schedule it. Which is why Universities have found it a useful medium for making announcements. With ScreenCloud you can integrate apps like Walls.io or Taggbox to create social media walls and give your posts greater impact. It also allows for greater interaction with your students by showing their content too (with strict moderation and profanity controls in place!).

Having the ability to make real-time edits also mitigates the risk of showing outdated or contradictory content. Universities are, in many ways, like a business. And attracting new students is a competitive process.

Digital campuses

New and emerging technologies in IoT are big business in the future connected education space. These individual pieces of technology speak to each other in a connected way, to link up individual parts a digital campus. These technologies present new ways to improve and redefine the education experience. Whether it’s by improving communication between teachers and students, helping classrooms to adapt more effectively to the needs of students or learning aids which help students through complex projects.

When campuses become digital they begin to speak the same language as the digital-first students. It eases processes and makes physical buildings and centres more adaptable to changing needs. The way we learn and consume information has changed hugely even in the last couple of years. Why shouldn’t the physical environments we learn in be doing the same?

Some of the ways digital campuses can be created include:

Sensors deployed across doorways which monitor student movement - finding out which areas are busy and which are free

  • Wearables that help students and teachers to keep an eye on their fitness, tied into a reward or tracking system across the entire campus
  • Analysis of data and student movement to ensure that learning areas are optimized. Using sensors and smartphones to be able to change the temperature, lighting and sound of a room for optimal effect
  • Wireless door-locking and tracking systems for increased safety
  • Corridor displays for announcements or room availability
  • Cloud-based systems for storing and sharing information across every department and area        

Digital affects all parts of the future university - not just IT. For it to be implemented and implemented well, every area must be considered and ready to adopt a digital-first mindset.

To get started with your digital signage as the first step towards a more digital culture, check out our 14-day free trial of ScreenCloud.

Testimonials

We take a lot of inspiration from our customers. In our journey of educational digital signage we’ve spoken to many teachers, IT leaders and marketing professionals who are keen to exert change on their schools and colleges.

Nigel Price at Merchant Taylors’ Schools had been trying to implement digital signage for eight years before finding a system that worked (*spoiler alert*: it was ScreenCloud). And Leslee Hussin at North Valley Baptist Schools wasted months attempting to set up a “plug and play” digital system. Click on their names to read more about how they and their students have benefited from a digital signage strategy.

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