In August 2008, Xaverian College, Manchester, commissioned a campus-wide digital signage system using iMeRGe and a number of television screens. The signage system is being developed to include information and pages generated automatically by Capita FHE’s UNIT-e solution.
Xaverian College is a Catholic sixth form college in Rusholme, Manchester, with 1,750 full-time students aged 16-19 with a further 75 students from the University of Manchester are taking foundation years. The College has eight buildings on a university style campus.
In January 2008, Xaverian College was one of 10 providers to be awarded the Technology Exemplar Network status, sponsored by BECTA and the LSC. The Award recognises best practice in the application of their virtual learning environment (VLE) which supports the College’s administration, course management, student support and learning programmes
Xaverian College focused on the enhancement of college-wide communication. To satisfy their core requirements the system needed to achieve the following:
- Broadcast information to designated areas
- Share key information with students and staff
- Welcome visitors
- Display examples of student work
- Generate dynamic and interesting pages quickly
- Have instant messaging capabilities
- Be simple to set up
- Be very easy to use (to assist with the rapid release of staff back to their normal roles)
- Utilise existing screens in the Learning Resource Centre
- Be able to link to their College Information System in the longer term.
At the start of the new academic year, in August 2008, the iMeRGe solution was launched. Through managed password authentication, the user simply opens their favoured browser and selects the iMeRGe server from their favourites.
Xaverian College’s network infrastructure has several areas operating within virtual private networks, but as an IP based system, the College was able to configure this easily in advance of their launch.
Into the future
The next phase of development includes pages automatically generated by the Capita
UNIT-e solution. In trials conducted with the assistance of Capita FHE a very simple method of including key data has been developed. This comprises the results of reports, formatted within UNIT-e, to produce a final version that is displayed on screen. The display of this information is simplicity itself because a reference to the URL in the page is all that is required. Examples include student timetable information for courses, exams or room usage and further examples are expected to run live at Xaverian College soon. This obviates the need to enter the same data twice.
In order to generate pages of information automatically through iMeRGe, there appear to be no restrictions in linking iMeRGe to any administrative system capable of generating a standard format output. Alan Goodall comments, “Our staff have found the iMeRGe system easy to use and very flexible. It takes no time at all to make a new carousel available for display. The development of dynamic links with our MI System (Capita's UNIT-e) will improve the flexibility of the system particularly during enrolment and examination periods”.