Seven digital signs now grace Oberlin’s high traffic areas, displaying banners for student organizations and College departments, College events, a live energy monitoring feed, news crawl and the time, date and weather, in the hopes of keeping students more informed of campus events.The signs debuted over Commencement and Alumni weekend last May in Mudd, Wilder, King, the Con lounge, the Science Center, the Admissions Office and the Lewis Center. Though student reactions largely remain to be seen, “The alums were all like, ‘Wow, Oberlin’s really caught up with the times. That’s cool,’ ” said Ben Jones ’96, Vice President for Communications.
Jones was inspired by the digital signs at M.I.T., where he previously worked. “They put these signs up in key locations on campus and attendance to things, to my knowledge, increased. People seemed to be a lot more aware of what was going on because it was pretty hard to ignore these signs.”
One of Jones’s goals since arriving at Oberlin has been to enhance internal communications on campus. When he heard complaints that students were not informed of events, he thought of the signs. Jones has worked closely with John Bucher, Chief Technology Officer at CIT, to bring the signs to Oberlin.
Cindy Nickoloff ’88, Editor of Internal Communications, runs the signs from a computer in her office. The Office of Communications hopes to give partial management of the site to a new Student Senate position.
“We will be fielding requests from all the student organizations, plus all the offices on campus, and so we’ll have a lot of scheduling issues to deal with. But if we could get a position within Student Senate to field the student requests, then that would take a load off,” said Nickoloff. The Student Senate position would not be responsible for the day-to-day running of the signs, which will remain in Nickoloff’s control.
The signs can run up to 30 ads, which is more space than is allowed on the current OnCampus site. Organizations will be expected to design their slides in the formats that the program can host, from Photoshop, to RSS feeds to Powerpoints.
The crawl will be a Twitter feed in The Source’s name. “I’m going to be monitoring those feeds that come out of the Registrar’s office, HR, classifieds and bulletins,” said Nickoloff, “and we’re going put up things that we think are useful.”
The sign’s features will be continuously revamped as Communications discovers what works and what doesn’t. Currently, if you want to be advertised on the signs, “Just ask me,” said Nickoloff.
Student organizations, that’s email@example.com.