The days of wall-to-wall encyclopedias and 20-pound dictionaries are long gone. The students of today are used to having information at their fingertips 24/7. They don’t see technology as a challenge. They’ve grown up with it, and – if given the choice – they’d prefer to use it more often.
Case in point, the 2015 Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey found that most students, grades 4-12, would like to increase the usage of mobile devices in the classroom. This included 72% of elementary school students, 66% of middle school students and 54% of high school students.
With the excitement for classroom technology increasing with each new generation of students, educators must adapt in order to provide proper stimulation. K-12 digital signage networks provide the perfect solution.
What Digital Signage in K-12 Classrooms Can Do
First and foremost, digital signage in K-12 classrooms refocuses and reenergizes the student body. Take the Eloy Elementary School District in Arizona, for example. They are set in a farming community where the majority of the population lives below the poverty level. Due to lack of funding, their classroom technology had become outdated. Student engagement was suffering, as was attendance.
Thanks to a federal School Improvement Grant, Eloy was able to roll out integrated classroom technology to 350 students spanning grades 4-6. According to Eloy Intermediate Technology Coach Kevin Ourseler, student attendance and engagement skyrocketed after the addition of digital signage to the classroom, with nearly 100 percent student attendance daily.
Why are students – and teachers – so enthusiastic about digital signage in K-12 classrooms?
The technology provides students with an engaging and entirely interactive experience.
It’s basically the “gamification” of learning – a perfect blend of stimulating content, fun and collaboration. For teachers, the benefits are many.
- Screen sharing makes for efficient student/teacher collaboration, and collaboration is no longer dependent on student/teacher location (great for a crowded classroom, great for distance learning).
- Presentations can be enhanced using animated text and images and/or web-sourced content, such as high quality video.
- Connection to interactive whiteboard makes for perfect group assignments and discussion, including interactive on-screen demonstration and collaboration.
- Collaborative learning modules not only provide an interactive experience for the student, but real-time feedback for the teacher. Students can ask questions, and teachers can look in on students anonymously to gauge understanding and adjust the lesson plan or provide individual attention as needed.
- Student screens can be monitored and controlled as needed to help maintain focus and classroom control.
- Teachers can give students on-screen recognition for a job well done, providing students with an incentive to excel.
- The need for printing and photocopying are all but eliminated, saving educators substantial time and money.
- Educators and administrators can control K-12 digital signage network from a single location or via remote.
- Teaching resources and district policies are accessible at the click of a button and can be created, edited, distributed, maintained and managed as needed.
- English Language Learners (ELL) can benefit from translation features.
- Thanks to distance learning capabilities, virtual field trips are a viable option, even when funds for travel aren’t available.
K-12 Digital Signage in Action: Geeter Middle School
Geeter Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee, wanted to encourage student engagement and improve academic performance. They chose to implement digital signage in their sixth grade math class.
Geeter has historically underperformed academically, according to Cleon L. Franklin of the Office of Instructional Technology for Memphis City Schools. “Students don’t ask questions in class because they are worried about how they will be perceived by their friends…because it isn’t considered ‘cool’ to learn.” K-12 digital signage eliminated that stigma, making learning fun and cool again.
“I walked into a classroom where children had severe issues the year before, and now they were genuinely excited about learning math,” said Franklin.
K-12 Digital Signage in Action: Rialto Unified School District
Board of Education clerk Joseph Martinez noticed that students were most engaged when interacting directly with technology.
“Rialto was about 20-25 years behind the times technology wise,” Martinez said. “My idea was to get and use video throughout our campuses.”
Martinez wanted to use videoconferencing and digital signage to transform K-12 education. The idea was to give Rialto students the tools needed to take virtual field trips, connect with other students, and learn about a diverse range of cultures.
Digital signage displays and media players were added to 72 classrooms. To date, students have interacted virtually with students in San Diego and visited NASA and the Great Barrier Reef.
“Students aren’t poking each other. They’re not passing notes. They’re engaged. They’re focused on what’s on the screen,” Martinez said. “They’re trying to reap the most out of their time with it. It’s wonderful to see.”
Why Digital Signage Is Worth the Investment
According to the Center for Digital Education, nearly two-thirds of K-12 district leaders feel creating an integrated digital learning environment is a top priority. Pew Research Center found that AP teachers actually enjoy incorporating technology into their classrooms, provided it enhances the learning experience.
Digital signage in K-12 classrooms meets both of these criteria, and the technology is scalable. Networks can be customized with the budgets of small- and mid-sized institutions in mind, and there are a number of federal and local government programs, funds and grants available.
Perhaps Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said it best:
“Technology and innovation are at the core of the ever-changing world of education. Academic success is our top priority, and incorporating technology into academics better prepares our students for the world outside school walls.”