Nursing class locations/times on digital signs

Nursing Digital Signage


The first week of classes can be nerve-wracking for students: new classes, new buildings, and new professors. We strive to provide students with every tool possible to make the first week a great experience. For example, the university emails every student their schedule a week before classes start, our campus map is completely mobile, and the student’s schedule is available at any time through the Wayne State mobile app.

Nursing Students

Utilizing digital signage

This week we took another step to help students. By utilizing the digital signage in the Nursing building we were able to display all the current and upcoming courses in the building for a given day. A screenshot of the sign can be found above. Not only does this catch all the students as they walk in the door but it also helps those students who may not always be staring at their smartphones.

Build once, use many

Nursing specifically asked for this sign, but we made it in a way that allows us to plug in any building and display the current and upcoming classes for that day. The sign updates throughout the day and courses drop off as they end.

It’s a basic proof of concept at the moment but the initial feedback from students has been very positive. We hope to expand the level of information and reach of this sign in future semesters.

Power of local information

Digital signage is a powerful tool that has been a focus of the Web Communications staff for almost two years now. After experimenting a lot, visiting other campuses, experiencing the signage ourselves on a daily basis we feel that this medium is just as important to students as the Web or email. I know that’s a bold statement but nothing beats the ability to dynamically pull up local information in real time without students having to take action.

Digital signage as an afterthought or without centralized control is just as useless as a campus-wide Listserv that everyone has access to. Yes, it would be convenient but the mass amount of messages screaming for attention just reinforces the desire to ignore them all. Like all mediums, respect the user and they will thank you ten fold.

Dining menu now available everywhere

Besides studying, a favorite activity of college students is eating and our students are no exception. The Housing department approached us a few months ago because they were opening a new dining facility on campus and wanted to promote it.

Gold ‘n’ Greens

The new facility, which was scheduled to open on the first day of Fall semester 2012, had a menu that catered to vegetarian, vegan, kosher and gluten-free diets. The only problem was it didn’t have a name yet. So, as we often do, we looked to our students. We put a poll on Facebook with a few suggestions but left it open for write-in entries. By far, “Gold ‘n’ Greens was the clear winner.

Now that it had a name we had to get the word out about the new facility. After some informal interviews with students it became clear that there was a misconception about campus dining.

  • Perception was that campus dining facilities were only open to students in the resident halls.
  • Didn’t know it was a flat fee all-you-can-eat.
  • Didn’t know there were different breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.
  • Didn’t know non-residents could purchase a meal plan
  • Didn’t know what was on the menu, so they opted for more familiar eateries.

Didn’t know what was on the menu

The last misconception was by far the most noted, students said they would rather go to McDonald’s, where they knew what there were going to be able to eat than to take a chance on a dining facility. We dug deeper into this and found it was true, the dining facility menus were only listed in two spots. On a static digital sign inside one of the resident halls and as a PDF on the food vendor’s website.

We set out to change this and give this crucial information to anyone who wanted it. We started with creating a database of food items, dates and specials. We worked with Housing and our food vendor to populate the database with as much information as possible: attributes about each dish, nutritional info, food restrictions and a photo if available.

Because we wanted this information as open as possible we exposed it via our API. Now anyone who wants access to the information can integrate it into their site/app/email/etc. Since we are a huge fan of  eating our own dog food, we use that same API to populate student areas around campus.

On the Housing website

Of course we had to get the information out of PDF format and allow students to see the menu from day-to-day, and not just a “schedule” of what is available. The above screenshot is from the Housing & Residential Life website. It allows a student to pick their facility and see the entire menu for the day.

On campus digital signage

Students may not be at a desk, but instead walking through campus between classes or sitting in a study area. We utilized the digital signage around campus to promote the facilities and their menus. The screenshot above gives a clear overview of what is available at one of the dining facilities right now.

On our mobile website/app

Lastly, students who may not be near a sign or computer can now log on to or our mobile app and get a concise list of the dining facilities and their menus. This option at the moment is the least fancy but gets right to the point and displays the menu items to the student as quickly as possible. It will also be the first to be expanded with supplemental information in the near future.

Open data

Because we are committed to making any information available that could potentially help students and the university as a whole, our data is your data. If you’re interested in getting API access, currently available by request only, to use this information on your website/app, just let us know.

Student Service Center digital signage

No one likes waiting, especially when it’s for a uncertain amount of time. We can’t eliminate the lines completely, that of course is out of our control, but we can help change the perception of the wait.

Student Service Center

Last year the university launched the Student Service Center. It’s the one stop students can make for any admissions, financial aid, or registration information. At various times during the day and especially at certain times during the year it can get pretty busy.

The student experience

Students walk in to the Welcome Center and sign in at a computer and give a reason for their visit. That information goes in to Salesforce so the staff can see who is waiting and why. When a staff member becomes available they take ownership of the student’s request and call them up to the desk.

This has worked great and that process is not changing. But at certain times the service center can have multiple people waiting and although the average wait time is pretty low it can leave an uneasy feeling when someone sits with twenty other people who were there before them.

The power of data

We have the information about who’s waiting, how long they have been waiting and when they drop off the list. We just need to add one piece to make really useful. Luckily the CRM team on campus has an amazing developer, Adam Lincoln, who added a “Call” button to the user screen for the desk staff. This allows us to grab who is being called at any given time. Combine this data with a capable API from Salesforce + a large digital sign and boom! No more guessing for students.

No more guessing

Students can now see at a glance where they stand in line. We also calculate the average wait time which helps a student gauge what they are in store for. Lastly, the “now calling” screen helps students who may not be listing for their name and calls attention to the screen as it updates.


So far so good.

Thanks to everyone

This was truly a collaborative effort between the Student Service Center, CRM team, C&IT, and Web Communications staff. Without everyone being involved and pushing to make the student experience better this simply would not have been possible.

Flickr slideshows now on digital signs

Flickr SlideshowAs you pass some of the Wayne State digital signs now on campus, you may notice some of the signs now display our Flickr “photostreams” and sets. Our new digital sign templates now have the ability to pull from our main Flickr photostream RSS or any set on Flickr.

We will be updating them according to audience and location.  Look out for more Flickr “slideshows” coming to a digital sign near you!

Captioned Videos playing on Digital Signs around Campus


Captioned WSU VideoYou may notice the use of some of Wayne State’s YouTube videos, come up on the digital signs around campus.  We are “peppering” them in, along side our default news, events and promos that run on the screens.  Most of the screens don’t have the capacity to play sound, so we have enabled captioning to play along with the video.  As of now, we are playing them in select buildings for faculty and staff.  Keep a look out for more videos to be put into the rotation in the future, on more of our signs.


Digital Signage: Spotlight On

You may have noticed walking throughout campus recently and noticed the digital signs have a new content on it, a highlighted faculty member. We started rolling out what we are calling “Spotlight On” slowly throughout the signs on campus.

What is Spotlight on?

Every day our faculty are discovering new things, helping the community and making an impact on the world. We know this because we spread it through press releases and news items. To us this used to be great but it wasn’t good enough, only a small amount of our campus community read the releases or visit these random websites. Our solution is to bring these faculty members to the masses.

Since the signs are already in high traffic areas it is almost the perfect spot to make campus aware of their accomplishments. Above is an actual sign and what the spotlight looks like. It features a photo, impacting statement, name, title and a call to action to get more information. The goal was to make the signs impact the person walking by it enough to take a second and read or at least recognize the faculty member they may see walking around campus every day.

How to get spotlighted?

Are you doing something great or know someone that is on campus? Just send us an email, and we can get the ball rolling. We have found most spotlighted faculty have been nominated by others on campus. This is probably the best way to get someone highlighted.

We aren’t limiting the spotlight to faculty members only, we are open to highlighting anyone in the campus community who is making an impact on the world. Students and alumni are the next group to be featured.

What is that silly looking image?

That square image is a QR code.

QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

The barcode can be scanned with a number of mobile barcode scanners, the most popular is Google Goggles. Once scanned the codes we are producing are combine with a “” URL (more on that later) which take the user to the faculty member’s profile. The plan down the road is to direct the user to a video or audio interview with the faculty member to give them even more of a reason to scan or type in the URL. It is our way of yet again extending the content beyond its original intent.

The birth of a new feature

We have been running into the same reoccurring issue with the digital signs and yesterday we just had enough.

We are pulling the news announcements from the CMS where the news is already being entered and scheduled for the departmental websites. The issue arises because it is the same information in two different contexts.

So we sketched out an idea of how we can allow content creators to modify the titles just for the digital signs. By default the sign would need to use the main title but if the department wants they can change it. The initial sketch is above.

Three hours later it was implemented into the CMS and pushed to production. The signs are now displaying the titles specified for the sign context.

Situations like this make us glad we maintain our own CMS and have the flexibility to accomplish the universities goals in a timely and cost effective manor.

How To: Digitial Signage Promotions

How do I nominate something to be placed on the signs?

If you have an item you would like to nominate to be promoted across all signs on campus, or on a specific sign, please e-mail it to with the following information:

    • Title for the promotion (Action word in title)
    • Short Description (6 words or less)
    • Date and Time of event if it applies
    • Start and End date range you wish to run the promo (2 week maximum range)
    • URL or location where a viewer can get addition information (HTML only, no PDF links)
    • Contact person’s name, email and phone number (if the viewer has questions)
    • A 610 x 337 image (width x height)

      We will review your request and get back to you within 48 hours.

      Is there a cost to place something on a sign?

      There is no cost to physically place something on a sign but if a graphic needs to be designed specifically for the promotion there is a $75/hour charge.

      How long can an item run on a sign?

      An item can run on the digital signs for a two-week period. This amount of time is sufficient to give the item enough visual attention and to allow for other campus items to get air time in the rotation.

      What is not allowed on the digital signs?

      Currently these items are not allowed to be placed on the signs:

      • Advertisements for off campus items

      Who do I contact if there is something wrong with a Digital Sign?

      The Computing & Information Technology (C&IT) Help Desk at or (313) 577-4778.

      Wayne State University digital signage – Phase 2

      We have made a lot of progress since our “First Look” at the implementation of the digital signage all over Wayne State’s campus. Wayne State now has more than 25 digital signs mounted on walls in at least 16 buildings on campus.  So far the feedback has been all positive and we are implementing different templates to fit the different need of each individual sign.

      From our feedback, we recognized that weather, date and time should be on every sign somewhere within the display’s real estate.  We have fed in Wayne State’s main news and events to the main WSU template via RSS.  The last feature on the template we now have up and running is a place to promote Wayne State campus wide events and campaigns.

      Check out the new design below:

      WSU Main 1UP Digital Design Template

      The latest template we’ve completed is for the School of Business on a 2 x 2 digital television array.  It also successfully feeds an HD steam of CNN and displays main campus and School of Business news and events.  This set of 4 displays is broken up into 4 sections, containing the elements to keep a consistent look across the screens.

      Here is the result:

      WSU School of Business 2 x 2 display

      The next steps after implementing the remaining main signage templates is to explore how to make our signs much more dynamic.  We hope the newest designs are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and bring pertinent information to the campus wide community!