K-12 classrooms don’t look like they used to. Green chalkboards covered with dusty white chalk are a rare find. Today whiteboards take their place.

And where a row of cubby’s used to exist, now a row of computers live there.

But that’s not the only digital advancement in the classroom. Digital signage is fast becoming part of the classroom décor. And why wouldn’t it be? Millennials and the children of millennials expect access to digital platforms as part of their communication.

It’s integrated into their lives, after all.

Sure, chalkboards are fun (except when you have to clap erasers outside after school and sneeze on the chalk dust that blows everywhere), but digital signs are more fun and offer more options.

No more colored chalk.
No more morning announcements.
No more homework scrawled on the board that the bad kid in the corner can erase.

Everything is changing, and for the better.
Here are 9 ways schools everywhere use digital signage to enhance a K – 12 classroom.

1. Make A Sport of It

I had a friend in high school that made it his mission to go to as many football games as possible. He loved the sport, but couldn’t play it to save his life. If you asked him who was playing what position, he could only offer a fraction of that information.

He knew some of the players, but not all of them. And if he did know their name, he didn’t know anything else about them.

In some schools, educators make it a point to not only share the time and date of an upcoming football game, but to share bios of the players, too.

By including their picture, what position they play and what year they are in school, game-goers can easily become familiar with their classmates and cheer them on by name.

This can be done with any event, really. Classmates getting to know other classmates can help create greater school pride and camaraderie.

2. Upgrade Your Announcement System

Some students live to be the voice of the morning announcements. But the truth of the matter is, only a fraction of the student body actually listens.

Some schools are picking up on this and are integrating digital signage in the classrooms and hallways to make morning announcements “all day” announcements.

Not only are educational institutions providing information with both auditory and visual means, they’re also giving students the opportunity to show off their design skills.

Students can design messaging by creating their own templates or using default templates with their CMS software. This encourages creativity. Merging technology with creativity is vital as the Digital Age comes full circle

3. Share Student’s Work

Gone are the days of holding Suzie’s art project up in the front of the room for the rest of the 6th graders to see. With digital signage in the classroom, teachers can show the class everyone’s artwork as a jpg on a screen without digging through a pile of construction paper.

Students can have fun helping the teacher create the slideshow of artwork, too. As with morning announcements, helping students create with CMS software not only ignites creativity, but educates them on the power of digital signage.

 4. Take Them on Virtual Field Trips

If only we could take the entire classroom to Africa or Australia when we study. What an education that would be!

But we can’t…  At least not by jet… So, we can take them there with digital signage.

At the Rialto Unified School District in California, students are able to take virtual field trips and visit places like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia without getting up out of their seats.

The idea was conceived by Board of Education clerk Joseph Martinez. Martinez noticed that students were engaged most often when they were using a computer or tablet. So why not take it a step further?

Martinez said, “Rialto was about 20-25 years behind the times technology-wise. My vision was to get video and use video throughout our campuses.”

His vision came to fruition. Now students can have the educational benefits of traditional field trips without the district incurring travel costs. Students can also interact with other students and learn about different cultures.

To bring specific parts of the world into a classroom is not just phenomenal, it’s groundbreaking. Textbooks with pictures are great. Video with moving, colorful images is beyond great.

5. Incorporate Mobile Wayfinding

New schools are scary.

When we freshman made it to high school, the seniors used to think it was funny to tell us that the pool was on the 4th floor. It was funny to them because there was no 4th floor.

So we would wander around aimlessly looking for a flight of stairs that didn’t exist.

Today those sarcastic seniors need to come up with a new prank to stump the freshman because mobile wayfinding options are creeping into k-12 schools. Now newbies can refer to a digital touchscreen or their mobile phones to find their way to the art or music room.

Navigating unknown hallways for the first time can be intimidating. But as mobile technology continues to become a huge part of our society, so do mobile solutions.

Wayfinding can be engaging and fun, too. It’s like playing Where’s Waldo, only the student is Waldo and he or she is searching for the right staircase or classroom to begin a new adventure.

6. Emergency Alerts

Schools have been integrating digital signage into their curriculums for some time now.

From Wayfinding maps to class schedules, classrooms all over the globe are helping students and faculty manage their days with the help of digital data.

Now the technology is being used to help schools avoid tragedy.

It’s troubling, but if you ask any given person if they can name at least one school tragedy of some kind, it’s likely they can. These unfortunate events have made school security a big concern. And some security measures have been incorporated before entering a school, it never hurts to add another layer.

In case of a tragedy, levers or buttons placed strategically throughout the school campus can alert authorities and initiate a lockdown.

Emergency Messaging Signage can be designed so it’s simple to understand for any aged student. In some cases, a lockdown function automates perimeter security, alerts special needs students via digital signage, and transmits video to police so intruder activity can be thwarted.

7. Make Lunchtime A Breeze

Remember when there was one option for lunch and you got to choose either chocolate milk or white?

Today schools have dozens of options for students to choose from. And with digital menu boards in K-12 cafeterias, the art of ordering just got a little easier.

Most young kids today don’t know life without technology. Incorporating digital menu boards in cafeterias engages them more and can actually help them make better food choices.

Pictures or video of fresh fruit and crisp lettuce can help a student change his mind about what he’s about to consume. And with nutritional information listed like fat, grams, and protein, athletes and health-conscious eaters don’t have to guess what they’re consuming. They’ll always know.

8. Save Money

The words cost and effective in the same sentence are music to a school’s ears.

While up front costs of digital signage can create purchase hesitation, long-term savings have educators tickled.

Using the signage in classrooms and large gathering areas allows the school to share information on upcoming events, fundraisers, and other important information. This means no more handouts that get lost in a student locker or handbag. The information is right there, all day, for several days.

Here are some ways using digital signage over traditional messaging can save you cash:
– No more printing of handouts
– Reduces paper consumption
– Reduces ink consumption
– Generates greater interest in fundraising events (increased attendance)
– Joint marketing with other businesses or education centers generates cash

A penny saved is a penny earned, right?

9. Join The Force

No Yoda or Luke Skywalker talk, here. When I say join the force, I mean joining the ranks of digital users everywhere.

Everyday technology evolves.
Every. Day.

And everyday, more and more of us are joining the likes of the Digital Age.

The PEW Research Center surveyed almost 2,500 educators and found that:
94% own a cell phone
58% own a smartphone
93% own a laptop
87% own a desktop
39% own a tablet
78% use social networking sites

Despite these numbers, 42% of these teachers still feel that their students know more about digital tools and technology than they do.

These numbers are sure to increase. So join the force. Take the leap. Go digital. Your students are counting on it.

Conclusion

With so many college campuses utilizing digital signage, it’s not surprising to see the technology pop up in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.

From wayfinding to virtual field trips, digital signage is making waves in classrooms far and wide.
News ways to educate are emerging.
Lunches are improving.
Lives are being saved.

Things are changing, and digital signage is at the forefront of those changes.

Sure, green chalkboards are nice. They are. But it’s time to stop banging together dusty erasers and starting bringing together technology and young learners everywhere.

So onward to digital skies.

Oh. And may the force be with you.

What did we miss? In what ways have you seen digital signage used in K-12 classrooms?