Carousel Digital Signage has provided Elkhart Community Schools with a seamless way to communicate timely, up-to-date messages to its diverse network of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The K-12 public school district now uses Carousel Cloud to distribute department-specific messaging throughout its high school. The school district is also working with Carousel partner Jamf to securely convert Apple TV devices into media players, and providing access to meeting room schedules on mobile devices.
Based in Elkhart, IN, Elkhart Community Schools serves approximately 12,000 students. The public school district is comprised of 14 elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Elkhart Community Schools also oversees the Elkhart Area Career Center, which offers programs for high school juniors and seniors seeking to make the transition into college or a career.
Elkhart Community Schools has now successfully rolled out the new solution at Elkhart High School, explained Stephen DeCook, technology deployment administrator at the district. The system is configured into separate zones to address the needs of different departments, such as arts, athletics, business, and food services. Each department can now contribute content and messages related to classes, special events, and programs, with food services updating menu options daily.
DeCook’s technology department has also integrated Carousel Cloud with an RSS feed that displays internal-facing messaging about system status throughout the school, which helps to streamline troubleshooting and service calls for an IT and technology team with limited human resources. There is also a main zone for more generalized, school-wide announcements, which Carousel Cloud disseminates to all departments.
“Contributors from different departments will display relevant themes depending on what day of the week it is, or if it’s a special day celebrating a certain event in history, to keep content fresh and engaging,” said DeCook. “We are using Carousel’s Education template, and right out of the box it was ready to go. We added a few pieces of our own content and were up and running.”
One significant advantage of Carousel Digital Signage’s partnership with Jamf is Elkhart personnel can access conference room scheduling information using their iPads through the Jamf’s secure mobile device management (MDM) platform. DeCook says that the integration has streamlined the reservation process considerably.
“It’s really helped folks who need to have impromptu meetings,” he explained. “They immediately know which rooms are in use and which are free without interrupting any meetings in progress.”
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Elkhart is also taking advantage of the system’s built-in weather and news feeds, and DeCook added that his team is in the process of integrating Carousel Cloud with Singlewire’s InformaCast mass notification system for emergency messaging.
DeCook noted that Carousel Cloud’s third-party integration capabilities help to optimize the school district’s return on investment. “We’re a Google shop, and it’s been easy to merge Carousel with Google. I don’t have to set up an additional account for the users that are responsible for developing and distributing content,” he explained. “It’s easy to configure, and they offer a ton of information. And, whenever I’ve needed additional help and reached out to Carousel, their support has been excellent.”
Five users are responsible for content development and delivery today, and this number will continue to expand as the district scales up its usage. DeCook, who estimates that the user count will grow to approximately 20 people, shares that Elkhart Community Schools will soon deploy Carousel Cloud at several of its elementary schools. “They’ve seen how the signage at the high school works and want to benefit from the same features,” he said.
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DeCook predicts that this continuing expansion will be relatively straightforward, thanks to Carousel’s intuitive user interface. “It’s a really robust system, but as soon as you understand the basics it’s really easy to navigate,” he said. “And through our Google integration we have full control over who has access to which parts of the system, which enables us maintain our strict security standards.”
Digital signage in general also helps to keep a diverse population of staff, students, and visitors engaged, DeCook added. “We have a large community of English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) students, and the food services staff, for example, is excited about being able to display visuals alongside menu listings to help those individuals understand the content more easily,” he said. “We ae also giving students up-to-date and sometimes real-time information on events and happenings, or opportunities to sign up for interesting programs. That helps us get everybody excited about what’s going on at our schools. It’s no secret that kids aren’t always thrilled about having to be at school, but when we can leverage this tool to show them some of the cool things that are going on, that helps to inspire more involvement.”