Apple TV and Carousel Digital Signage Partner to Drive Signage for Entire School District
The three rivers that run through scenic Josephine County in southern Oregon were clearly the inspiration for the naming of Three Rivers School District, a 16-school K-12 system of previously adjacent districts formed in 1994. Today, the district’s IT department has created a different kind of inspiration throughout the school district, with all 16 schools leveraging power of digital signage in expected and unexpected ways.
Based in the county seat of Grants Pass, the Three Rivers School District’s digital signage journey started nearly 10 years ago when then-new IT network technician Bob Giordano convinced the school district to expand their Apple ecosystem throughout the district. One initiative brought Apple TV devices into classrooms, which would make it easier for instructors with iPads to wirelessly cast content to displays.
That laid the groundwork for Giordano and his team to establish a Carousel Cloud digital signage network and eventually extend it into classrooms, where instructors in each space can now customize their own outputs. Today, the school district’s network spans more than 300 screens across all 16 schools, reaching staff and nearly 4500 students in classrooms as well as administrative offices, cafeterias, and hallways among other gathering spaces. The network is expected to grow from here.
Extending the Carousel Cloud network into the classroom wasn’t without concern, given the responsibilities that teachers already carry in the classroom. “One of the standout features of Carousel Cloud is its cross-platform capability,” said Giordano. “While we use a lot of Apple today, our district still supports all types of platforms, and we needed a digital signage solution that would be compatible with Macs, iPads, Chromebits and other devices. We didn’t want to be locked into a single-app, single-platform mode at any location and didn’t want to make things harder on our teachers. We needed to make it headache-free for everyone.”
The presence of Apple TVs in the classroom naturally provided the networking foundation to eliminate content playback headaches. Carousel Digital Signage was the first digital signage supplier to natively integrate with Apple TV devices. Through its partnership with mobile device management firm JAMF, Carousel’s integration with AppleTVs seamlessly converts the devices into digital signage media players once Carousel content starts to flow.
That proof of concept reduced the initial resistance, and soon unleashed the floodgates. “Our initial thought was to bring Carousel Cloud into the classrooms for emergency notifications, since their software is compliant with CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) for real-time emergency alerts,” said Giordano. “It wasn’t long before the technology-minded teachers in our community learned how easy Carousel was to use, and all the things they could do with the software to support instruction, highlight student achievements and provide other classroom information. Soon, schools in the district were requesting more Apple TVs and today we have teachers requesting their own channels. It took us by surprise, in a great way.”
The initial Carousel Cloud deployment focused on office and hallway environments, where network administrators used Carousel’s content management tools to keep screens lively and up to date with timely communications content. That soon spread to common areas and cafeterias, where the food services team was interested in publishing daily menus. Office managers and principals were first tasked with managing classroom content, which teachers could choose to display throughout the day.
As this school year began, comfort with Carousel throughout the district had reached a point where teachers had direct access to contribute and manage content in their classrooms.
“We built generic Carousel channels with enough zones to give them the freedom to enact their visions,” said Giordano. “Some of our teachers accessed training packages on the Carousel Academy website, and others learned on the job with support from the IT team as needed,” he said. “They are customizing it to grade level. Some of our youngest students are learning how to tell time through Carousel, with analog and digital clocks in adjacent zones. There are vocabulary lessons on the screens, among other creative ways that instructors are building curriculum into digital signage. Teachers highlight achievements, such as student of the week. Carousel Cloud has evolved from a general communications vehicle to an interactive classroom platform.”
Carousel Cloud continues to pique the interest of others throughout the school district. “We are still building out the classroom network district-wide, but our high schools have inquired about using Carousel for daily announcements,” said Giordano. “We’re also looking at how we can extend some digital signage content to parents, such as menu changes that might affect some student allergies. We are even considering how we can extend Carousel to gymnasiums and outdoor screens for our athletics department. Carousel Cloud’s scalable architecture makes it easier for the IT department to make these goals a reality.”