Bryant University: Student-Centered Communications Savvy

Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, has prided itself on being a “student-centered” university since its founding in 1863. With 400 graduate and 3200 undergraduate students from 31 states and 32 countries on a 420-acre campus, communications are critical to preserving that focus.

The Princeton Review has included Bryant in their “Top 25 Most Connected Campuses” list. The entire university campus is Wi-Fi enabled and students are issued laptops for the duration of their studies. Even the student lounges have large video wall displays to engage and communicate with the student body. “Technology is an important tool in this highly interconnected global economy,” stated Ronald K. Machtley, president of Bryant.

Bryant has not always been the “wired” leader it is today. A particular challenge in the past was communications, as most announcements were delivered in print via overcrowded bulletin boards. A few years ago, a bulletin board was set on fire and caused significant damage. Bryant knew that the current system wasn’t working – the school administration banned paper notices and turned to Visix for university digital signage powered by AxisTV digital signage software.

Visix and Bryant worked to implement a paperless solution that would meet communication needs for the administration, while reinforcing their “student-centered” philosophy by providing a straightforward channel for delivering student notices. The challenge was met with AxisTV software paired with a comprehensive hardware package including media players, a content management and web-hosting server, a supporting network infrastructure and audiovisual signal distribution to peripheral displays.

The school installed digital display stations around campus in popular high-traffic areas such as lobbies, corridors and lounges. Each digital display station includes two screens – one for administrative use and one for student notices. The administration uses AxisTV to deliver class schedule information, school bulletins and public service announcements.

Students have actively embraced the technology, and most new content comes from their side of the equation. Student messages include information about university-sanctioned organizations and clubs, sports teams, theatrical productions, student union notices, guest speakers, fraternity and sorority events, and more.

“The system is so flexible,” commented Roger A. Acosta, Internal Media Coordinator at Bryant University. “There’s constantly something new going up, circulating around the system, being commented on, inspiring others to make their own contributions.”

Bryant further strengthened student-administration cooperation by developing and publishing standardized policies on how to access, create and schedule messages within AxisTV.

Any student can submit a message for display using a lab workstation paired with an authorized password provided by the appropriate Bryant advisor. A large library of backgrounds allows students to express their creativity when designing communications. The AxisTV system holds the message for review by the department head, who then approves it or suggests changes. “Even though the technology is virtually instantaneous, with approval policies it can take a couple of days to get messages up on the system, so we ask people to plan ahead,” said Acosta.

Acosta and other Bryant administrators have been extremely pleased with the results – both expected and unexpected – from integrating AxisTV into campus life. An obvious advantage is the realtime delivery capabilities of the system, accessed via the web, for speedy communications. “If there’s an emergency, everyone can be notified immediately,” stated Acosta.

A favorite Bryant feature of AxisTV is its capacity to interface with CollegeNet’s R25 app – a campus-wide class and event scheduling software used by Bryant. The two systems work together seamlessly to manage and display room and event schedules.

Also popular is AxisTV’s range of flexible video features. Streaming video is pumped directly into corridor displays and through the university’s cable TV system in classrooms and dorm rooms. AxisTV also lets them attach short audio clips to messages to attract more attention.

There have been some significant unexpected benefits of the Visix digital signage integration at Bryant. Unauthorized advertisements from credit card companies and solicitors’ that used to clutter bulletin boards have been eliminated. Also, paper banners and their remnants often used to litter common areas. “It looked like a flea market,” said Acosta. “This new system is clean – it’s all digital so there’s no mess at all.”

Other universities have visited Bryant as a showcase for communication technology in this interconnected age. After seeing results of the progressive attitude of this prestigious institution, they find that “student-centered” equals communications savvy on this connected campus.