At modern community colleges like Alabama’s Shelton State Community College, the students are a mixture of digital natives (people born after the widespread use of digital technologies) and digital immigrants (those born before such technologies but alive during their implementation), with many spending more and more time online. And yet the distributed nature of information on the web can make it difficult to reach them with timely updates.
Shelton was already using the school’s website, as well as Facebook and Twitter, when they decided they needed another, more immediate way to reach their more than 7000 students. Enter community college digital signage and the AxisTV digital signage software system.
“It really allows us to keep a connection with our students, faculty, staff and community members that are physically on campus,” says Jill Swindle, Director of Online Media. By sending messages to screens in high traffic areas like the atrium and near entrances, Swindle and the Information Technology team can push vital information to people as they go about their business on campus. “Events, deadline dates for scholarships, withdrawal from classes, sporting events, congratulatory announcements – anything that people need to know immediately or that impact where they go or what they do.”
Centralized control of messages is a major appeal of AxisTV for Swindle. “We try to filter everything through our master calendar program,” she explains. “This calendar is on the website and information goes there first, then feeds into the digital signage. This works out well – I don’t have people bombarding me with requests all the time.” By using AxisTV to power their digital signage, Swindle has a system that reinforces the message while also being simple to use. “I create messages three or four times a week, a couple of weeks in advance, then just schedule them to play when they need to.” Audience response has been positive. “Everyone says it helps them feel better connected to the events on campus.”
They’ve also integrated their digital signage system into their emergency plan. “We’re in Alabama, and we have a lot of tornados. If something happens while people are in classes, we can put a warning up on the screens quickly.” So far, they have not had an emergency situation develop. “But if we ever did,” says Swindle, “we’re sure the displays can help us provide very important information and emergency directives.”
By combining digital technologies – the web, social media and digital signage running AxisTV, Swindle knows that they are reaching students wherever they are. “It’s helped us draw in more participation in campus events,” she says. “It’s a great way to get your messages out. AxisTV is so easy to use, and it helps you create the types of messages and announcements viewers will want to pay attention to.”