Pathways to Technology Magnet School: Media Rich

For Dennis Barham, Technology Integration Coach at Pathways to Technology Magnet School in Windsor, Connecticut, rich media is a way to focus attention on school announcements. For students waiting for classes to begin on a cold winter morning, it’s ESPN’s SportsCenter run through their school’s digital signage software.

Barham says that buses from 26 surrounding communities bring students to the school. So every morning he downloads a few segments from SportsCenter or CNN websites and then stages them as media announcements that he can run on an AxisTV player and three screens in the cafeteria. “That creates quite a land rush on the scene. We’ll get people really trying to get close to a display so they can watch it,” he says.

That rush fits in well with the school’s communication strategy. “It creates focus and creates an attractive context for the main propose we have for AxisTV, which is channeling our announcements. Announcements are announcements – this gives some entertainment value.”

Barham runs a relatively small system, but the scheduling allows him to get full use of it. “I don’t want burn-in on my monitors so I use AxisTV’s device control to schedule them to turn off at 2:15 when the students leave. If it’s a parent-teacher night, I can schedule PTO announcements to start running when people arrive. With the ability to schedule things for certain dates and times, you stay ahead of things. There are messages just waiting for their time to come, and then they play when they’re supposed to and drop off the schedule. I can stage everything and walk away.”

Barham has a lot of plans for expansion. “We’re going to have a recording studio, so we’ll be able to have custom morning news where students who have completed public speaking courses will become talking heads,” he predicts. “We’re a computer technology school, so our students produce a digital movie when they go somewhere. We’ve had kids making inspired presentations.”

Barham praises the system’s ease of use and is eagerly exploring other AxisTV capabilities. More than anything, though, the rich media capabilities and the flexibility make Barham an enthusiastic supporter. “I have video presentations I use, for instance at open houses, orientation, or some special event. It’s a lot more powerful than having static text. AxisTV gives us another presentation venue. The first time people saw it, they were pretty dazzled.”