"How do I create digital signs that I can update easily? " Imagine having to physically manage computers, logging in remotely to each machine, installing anti-malware software, trying to avoid the blue screen of death from popping up instead of scheduled announcements. If digital signage is a concern for you--whether as a classroom principal, campus technology coordinator or district technology director--then this post shares some solutions!
Let's quickly review what "digital signage" is:
Digital signage is a form of electronic display that shows Television programming, menus, information, advertising and other messages. Digital signs (such as LCD, LED, plasma displays, orprojected images) can be found in public and private environments, such as retail stores, hotels, restaurants and corporate buildings.
WHAT WILL I NEED TO PUT IN PLACE TO SUPPORT A SOLUTION?
Before working to implement a solution, you will want to consider these questions:
WHAT SOLUTIONS SHOULD I CONSIDER?
There are various solutions you could invest in. The solutions mentioned below have all been considered by Texas school districts:
SOLUTION #1 - Texas Digital
One 5A school district has invested and deployed a solution from Texas Digital (NCR). Cost estimates--based on a count of 22 monitors--are attached to this email and vendor would like to do a walkthrough--with your approval--to provide more detailed information.
Recommended Equipment: 42inch wall-mounted monitors (less expensive than ceiling-mounted), each has their own media player managed remotely via a web interface.
Cost estimates are attached for 22 monitors, one for 32inch ($64K) and 42inch ($72K) monitors; courtesy of Matt Wheat, National Sales Manager for NCR Corporation
(Phone: 979-329-6203 | www.txdigital.com). The main selling point of this solution is that it's supported/managed by an external vendor at cost.
SOLUTION #2 - - "Free"
This solution is in use in multiple districts. Dr. Joy Rosseau (Arp ISD), shares, "It allows you to add apps like news feeds, weather, Google slides, streaming content from TV or Radio, etc. We have found it to be limitless. You can schedule your displays and use multiple templates on multiple displays. It is cloud-based and can be used across the district." One of its main selling points is that it is no-cost except for the hardware itself. There are no additional support/vendor costs. It is also centrally managed.
Think this solution would be worth trying in your situation?
SOLUTION #3 - Chromebox with Google Slides or Chrome Sign Builder
This solution, growing in popularity, involves using a Chromebox (Dell Chromeboxes are about $149-$349 depending on specifications, but you can also find others online) to manage content. Of course, you will need to include an HDMI friendly monitor display. In regards to what is providing the content, some districts like to use Google Slides, while others use Chrome Sign Builder. Google describes Chrome Sign Builder describes itself in this way:
Timothy Ezler (Ricardo ISD)--check out his example--shared, "I played with Chrome Sign Builder but the use of Google Slides was much easier." Bland ISD also does the same, eliminating the need for a device: "Students actually maintain the presentation under supervision of classroom sponsor. Difference is presentation runs on two TVs with built in wireless. No need for connected netbook or other device."
You decide which is the best approach!
SOLUTION #4 - Next Unit of Computing
Next Unit of Computing (NUC) provides a low-cost affordable option for school districts. NUCs usually run the full Windows operating system and provide a level of familiarity for staff. A NUC is a small form factor and is appropriate for use in displays.
SOLUTION #5 - Flat Panels displaying Powerpoint
Other districts have simply hooked up flat panels running in kiosk mode to a "video multiplier." The video multiplier is connected to a computer running Microsoft Powerpoint.
Next time a campus principal asks you, "How can I setup digital signs?," you will have a starting point!