Regional School Unit 25 (RSU 25) is an educational institution located in Bucksport, Maine, catering to over 1,100 students in grades Pre-K-12 across four schools. Like countless schools across North America, they faced the challenge of effective communication.
In a dynamic learning environment, traditional communication methods and work-around signage solutions were falling short. Jim Morrill, Director of Technology, spearheaded the district’s transformation by harnessing the power of the Rise Vision digital signage solution.
Meet Jim Morrill
Jim Morrill, the Director of Technology at RSU 25, understood the importance of efficient communication within the educational landscape.
Before implementing Rise Vision, the school had a couple of TVs with Chromeboxes that were running presentations created in Google Slides. However, this proved to be an ineffective system for them and resulted in frustration.
Jim was able to convince the budget approvers that digital signage was an effective communication tool. The school had equipment they could use - since Rise Vision is media player agnostic - RSU 25 just needed the license to run the software.
With the help of Hunter Gross, Technology Specialist, Jim was able to implement Rise Vision to address RSU's communication headaches.
Rise Vision was the Cost Effective Choice
Before the district-wide implementation of digital signage, each school at RSU 25 had one display conveying a welcome message, upcoming events, weather updates, and birthday celebrations. Recognizing the potential for enhanced communication and engagement, Jim and Hunter sought a solution that could revolutionize these displays and more.
When evaluating other digital signage options, they quickly identified a cost prohibitive feature: media players. While other solutions had similar pricing to Rise Vision, the necessary hardware costs associated with those solutions quickly added up. So, Rise Vision emerged as the optimal choice to streamline their communication strategy.
With Rise Vision, Jim and Hunter were able to run the digital signage software on any device. So that’s what they did. They bought MiniPCs with Linux from a recycler for $20 a unit and connected them to their existing TVs.
To mitigate security risks, Hunter runs an SSH networking protocol to the MiniPC devices from a dedicated desktop. The players aren’t able to accept SSH from any other input which means students aren’t able to potentially override the content.
With their current technology stack, Hunter and the rest of the technology department do not have to get involved with the day to day management of digital signage. The school’s content creators are able to update the presentations as needed and Hunter is only called in if something breaks.
Hunter commented that it took longer to set up the dedicated computer for their security protocol than it did to set up Rise Vision on their devices.
Rolling Out District Wide Implementation
Now, RSU 25 runs Rise Vision district wide. While each school has at least one display used for welcoming students, staff, and guests, as the grade levels go up, there are additional digital displays in the school.
In the RSU high school, they have a display showing the lunch menu which helps speed up meal times. Both staff and students have remarked that this addition in the cafeteria makes things smoother and quicker. The use of imagery in the lunch menus helps define menu items for students with lower reading levels (either grade level or learning capability) as well as any exchange and immigrant students we have. Although it's not often the district has immigrants or refugees that join without some knowledge of English, the school does have a student from South America this year that had no experience in English.
As well, they also have two displays in the lobby; one is to welcome guests and the other displays activities and menu options. Lastly, there are two more displays going up in the gymnasium entrance which will focus on content related to athletics, co-curriculars, and more.
In addition to the TVs throughout the school, RSU 25 also has 109 Promethean boards. There is one in every academic classroom, conference room, and at least one mobile board in every school.
What Makes RSU 25s Use Case Unique
RSU 25's approach to digital signage is rooted in amplifying engagement and improving communication across their school. With a fleet of 109 Promethean boards in classrooms and conference rooms, the seamless integration of Rise Vision emerged as a powerful solution to address communication challenges and infuse a dynamic engagement element.
Using Rise Vision to Solve Communication Challenges
Notably, RSU 25 leveraged Rise Vision to improve not only general communication but also to promote healthy food choices and nutrition awareness among students.
Enhanced Communication and Engagement
Rise Vision successfully transformed the conventional display boards into engaging communication portals.
RSU 25 was able to leverage the federal grant program, Full Plates, Full Potential, to afford another display in their cafeteria and kitchen materials. The cafeteria displays encourage students to make healthy food choices, but also display information about food and nutrition.
Displaying information about events, activities, food choices, and academic updates, these digital displays significantly impacted both students and staff. Jim Morrill emphasizes, "Students and staff said it was impactful."
Integrating Rise Vision with Promethean Boards
With Rise Vision deployed on the 109 Promethean boards across the district, RSU 25 now delivers regular morning announcements and plans to incorporate video announcements. The goal is to maintain a non-distracting display while ensuring critical Common Alert Protocols (CAP) alerts are visible even when the board is inactive. Collaborating with Rise Vision, they aim to enhance this capability further.
How Other Schools Can Improve Communication Like RSU 25
The RSU 25 case study underlines the potential of Rise Vision digital signage, in enhancing communication and engagement within schools. The successful integration of Rise Vision with Promethean boards showcases how technology can revolutionize traditional communication methods, enabling schools to stay agile, engaging, and informative. The integration is also a testament to how schools can make their technology investment go further by utilizing the boards for multiple purposes.
RSU 25's journey is a great example of the transformative power of Rise Vision's digital signage solution. Their proactive approach to communication showcases the vital role technology plays in fostering an engaged and positive school culture.