The mission of the Baldwin Union Free School District (UFSD) is “to support students’ academic, social, and moral growth to foster a lifelong commitment to learning and to encourage responsible contributions to society.” The administration is dedicated to providing the most up to date resources and tools to staff in order to maximize potential for student success. Baldwin, a K-12 district, uses a variety of tools including Google for Education, meaning it leverages Google’s cloud-based technology to enable students to collaborate, share, and communicate using various online tools.
Baldwin UFSD is comprised of eight schools—one high school, one progressive high school, one middle school, and five elementary schools. Communication across the district is complex and takes place from several tiers: from district administration to the schools and parents; from the school administrations to staff, students, and parents; and from teachers to students and parents. Previously, the district was relying almost exclusively on paper﹘and to a lesser extent email﹘to communicate with these groups, but the limitations of email led them to seek additional ways to share content and engage staff and students.
Baldwin was looking for a platform that would allow the creation and sharing of content from remote locations, such as from the district office to the schools, and to manage content scheduling. It was extremely important that the application they chose was user friendly and platform-agnostic since the IT department has limited bandwidth to train users. Budget was also a significant factor.
Baldwin UFSD needed a content management system (CMS) that was easy to use and cost effective. Ideally, the investment would support communication to every level in the district as well as enhance instruction in the classrooms. Over the past several years, Baldwin had already implemented G Suite and was also familiar with Agosto, the developer of Skykit. Their search led them to Skykit, the first digital signage CMS built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
Skykit digital signage for Education lets content managers share content directly to the various distribution points—from school entrances down to specific classrooms through digital displays, while also keeping students, faculty and visiting parents in the loop about pretty much anything from lunch menus, schedules, events, announcements in general and more.
“Skykit was the best solution for Baldwin School District for several reasons,” stated Darren Faccilonga, Director of Instructional Technology at Baldwin UFSD. “It’s built on Google, which we’ve already implemented; it’s ridiculously easy to use and manage, with little to no learning curve for users; and it is updated in the cloud and managed by Skykit which lets the IT department focus on other concerns. If you are able to use Google Drive and Docs, consider yourself ready to use Skykit.”
Baldwin has implemented Skykit at every building in the district.
Since implementing Skykit digital signage CMS, Baldwin now has a simple, intuitive tool that allows different users to communicate consistent messages to staff, students, and the community.
Administrators can easily create content using familiar applications, and display it in hallways, entryways, outside of auditoriums, the cafeteria, and teacher’s lounges. Users can upload images, PDFs, videos and more, and can post updates from any device, even cell phones, to share content.
Here are some of the ways that Baldwin Schools are using Skykit:
- Main Entrance at Schools
Each school is equipped with a 55” screen at the main entrance where visitors sign in. These displays share a large variety of content from the district main office, including important dates/events, Board of Education meetings, TV and print news clips about the district, and videos and photos of district highlights.
Teachers can create and share content on large displays directly in the classroom, such as lesson plans, graphic organizers, schedules, Google Slide presentations, and important announcements. They can schedule these as part of a lesson playlist or program. The displays support “redesigned learning spaces” by removing distracting visual clutter on classroom walls.
- Art Rooms
Art teachers can digitize students’ artwork and showcase them in presentations on the classroom display screens.
After-school clubs utilize displays in the library, such as Book Review Club and Librarian Club. In addition, the library provides a place for students to collaborate on projects by projecting their work on a digital display.
Future plans include displaying menus.
The “Social Media Crew”, a group of students that work under teacher supervision to curate content for social media distribution, are becoming Skykit administrators who can distribute updates in their schools, providing them with the opportunity to work on their technology skills and enabling the staff to focus on the messaging and the content.
For Baldwin, the bottom line was finding the right digital signage platform—one that would fit its long-term goals from the district level down to each individual classroom.
Skykit supports cohesive branding and messaging across the district while also enhancing classroom instruction. As a cloud-based platform, Skykit is designed to grow with Baldwin, scaling to its changing needs as required. Online support is included in the annual cost.
“With many IT deployments in K-12, you can expect to pay ongoing support and annual cost updates which can wreak havoc on your budget,” said Faccilonga. “Skykit has no hidden fees—the cost is exactly as they said it was, with no surprises.”