Two College Campuses Connected by One Cloud-Based Digital Signage Network

Digital signage displaying important updates at Bemidji State.
(Image credit: Carousel Digital Signage)

Carousel Digital Signage is helping two partnering Minnesota higher ed institutions strengthen and unify communications across both campuses by transitioning their legacy digital signage network to the cloud. The transition simplifies IT operations and content management across two distinct learning environments, while also establishing a foundation to attract more content creators and network contributors.

Located just 10 minutes apart, Bemidji State University (BSU) and Northwest Technical College (NTC) share a unique partnership among the broader Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. NTC students have access to BSU’s housing, meal plans, organizations, support systems and more, providing two-year NTC students with a taste of university life and an affordable, technology-based education. 

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The close BSU and NTC partnership also means that many resources, including IT and marketing, are shared across both campuses. A single IT department oversees the network infrastructure and operations on each campus, while one marketing team manages communications across two locations separated by geography and curriculum yet otherwise connected as a common community. These connections form the basis of a new digital signage initiative led by chief information officer (CIO) Sherry Lawdermilt aimed at bringing the two campuses closer together through unified messaging and broader contribution.

Digital signage displaying important updates at Northwest Technical College.

(Image credit: Carousel Digital Signage)

“We have been very focused on how to efficiently operate in a hybrid manner,” said Lawdermilt, who also serves as associate vice president of information technology. “We were primarily focused on equipping our classrooms and conference rooms for hybrid learning and meetings, but also needed to evolve our communications strategy in a way that thoughtfully considers that hybrid model. That meant putting a greater emphasis on digital messaging to communicate news, events and updates to staff and faculty that are not always on campus, and still learning how to navigate the hybrid model.”

Lawdermilt said that the Carousel Cloud transition is essentially a collaboration between IT and Marketing, the latter of which generates much of the network’s content. Carousel’s Professional Services team has generated new templates that will make it easier for new users to quickly contribute content. “Carousel’s ease of use is one of the main reasons we like the system,” said Lawdermilt. “My previous institution had a digital signage system that was difficult to learn, which placed more responsibilities on IT to keep the content fresh. We never had that problem with our server-based Carousel system, and it seems to be even easier with Carousel Cloud.”

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The transition to Carousel Cloud is happening as renovations take shape across the BSU campus. Carousel Cloud will make it easier to scale the network to new places, which essentially requires adding new displays and media players—BSU and NTC both use BrightSign media players—and then making the appropriate network connections to Carousel Cloud. Carousel Digital Signage has long been deployed in residence halls, common areas and some departmental buildings, and will soon expand into the Wellness Center and other departments with busy foot traffic. As NTC is a single building, signs are already positioned around entry ways and other strategic locations where the content will shine.

Departments that use the network today report positive results. “BSU’s Business and Marketing department has been a heavy contributor to the network from the curriculum side, and our Career Services team has been promoting more job fairs and other events lately. We are really beginning to effectively use digital signage as a mechanism to inform students and faculty about the resources we offer across both locations. Carousel also makes it easy to use the same or similar content on templates branded for each campus, or target very campus-specific content to one location. No matter how we use the templates or the content, Carousel Cloud makes digital signage simple for everyone.”

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.