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.

Welcome Shannon Tucker to the Web Communications team

We are pretty excited to announce that Shannon Tucker will be joining the Web Communications team. Shannon has worked for C&ITfor 10 years and has been responsible for streaming services and video hosting for the university. He was also instrumental in the setup of the Echo 360 classroom recording system. Running the College of Engineering computer labs; (Unix/PC), distant learning classroom. Developed lecture capture, class recording, distant learning and training material for the Computer Science department. Not to mention hundreds of other cross departmental projects including Blackboard training and promotional material.

What Shannon will be responsible for

Digital Signage

Over the past year or so the digital signs on campushave expanded from 15 to around 60, with even more scheduled to go up this year. In addition to the quantity of the signs there is also need to customize each sign beyond the few base templates. Shannon is going to take the signage to the next level and allow for this customization while still maintaining the consistency between them all.


Still unofficially announced but we will be launching on iTunesU this summer. The hardware and software is all set up, we have just been waiting for the staff time to become available. With Shannon’s expertise with classroom recording, including the hardware, software, and faculty, it puts him in the perfect position to be the point person to ensure our iTunesU system is as robust as it possibly can be.

Event Streaming

Lastly, most of the streaming events on campus are produced by Shannon and are coordinated through the Marketing department. It is only natural that those services continue to expand. We’re always looking at different options to show off campus and our speakers, traditionally this has been done ad hoc and by request of the event organizer. We may be flipping that workflow and positioning streaming as a core promotion opportunity for events on campus. Shannon will be instrumental in this expansion.

What’s next

Over the next week or so we will be determining the exact roles Shannon will have and what opportunities will be available to campus. Look for him around campus, this blog and responding to your emails.

Wayne State University digital signage – First look

Digital Signage WireframeRecently, marketing was put in charge of designing and programming the templates of what will be displayed on the TV monitors all over campus. We “whiteboard wireframed” some initial ideas and then started implementing some initial basic templates for the signs.   We have met with the campus community, who will be hosting the signs and took notes on what they thought was important to display on the various digital signs on campus.

Here is the most requested things to display, from the campus community so far:  events, news, promote featured events with imagery, live TV, photo galleries, weather and date/time.  We have made some quick templates to play with spacing and size of all the elements. As we progress further with the design and structure, we will keep you updated as we roll out the new templates.

Digital Signage News/EventsDigital Signage Events only

Let us know if you have any other ideas of what you would like to see on the digital signage by commenting in the reply box.