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Sequoyah Schools is a gleaming, modern institution for grades K-12, that has become a leader nationwide for how technologies can be deployed to support education. Throughout its campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Sequoyah Schools is utilizing HughesOn™ Digital Media Solutions, with 85 digital screens networked throughout the facility that dynamically deliver content at locations and in ways that appeal to students. The robust digital signage platform provides a scalable and reliable infrastructure for delivering educational and training materials, live TV, video-on-demand, news, and localized information. In each classroom, teachers access videos and lesson libraries to support the curricula.
“We installed the digital signage to provide educational materials in classrooms, but also as a mechanism for the school to produce media and distribute it to classrooms,” said Alan Hefner, Cherokee Nation’s multimedia lead within its IT department.
Content can be shown on all screens simultaneously, or programmed by classroom or individual location (such as a cafeteria or teachers' lounge). For example, the digital screens are ideal for the live streaming of speeches by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. With the ability to display closed captioning, information can reach all audiences, including the hearing impaired.
The digital screens also have an important role in emergency preparedness. Given the regular occurrence of tornadoes in the region, screens can be configured to display live weather updates and alerts.
“Hughes digital signage helps keep our students informed, engaged and, most importantly, safe,” said Hefner.
Perhaps most important, the school has been proactive in educating students on using the technology and create content. Students have access to video cameras, editing software and equipment, as well as a green screen and taping studio. They can create videos, edit them, use the Hughes platform to distribute them throughout the campus buildings and classrooms, log the files into an archived library and make them available on-demand. Often, students videotape school events, game scores and highlights, produce video journals and stories, and even create interactive polls to facilitate voting (e.g., homecoming king or queen, class president, etc.).
These resources enable students to gain hands-on experience, keep digital content relevant and current, and increase community engagement. The hope is that by building such skills, students will also be better prepared for the job market after graduation or college.
With more than 320,000 citizens, over 9,000 employees and a variety of tribal businesses in the gaming, hospitality, information technology, personnel services, distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications, environmental services and security and defense industries, Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in Oklahoma is more than $1.5 billion annually, according to its website. It is one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma. After seeing the many ways that digital signage helped keep students and school staff informed and engaged, Cherokee Nation expanded the application of HughesOn Digital Media Solutions throughout the tribe’s operations. Hughes digital signage now appears at the Cherokee Nation government headquarters, as well as in all of its motor vehicle tagging offices, veteran affairs locations, and healthcare sites.
One important expansion strategy has been Cherokee Nation’s launch of an improved customer registration system at the motor vehicle tag office, which relies on digital signage. Initially, they wanted a numbered registration system (i.e., take a number to be served). Their challenge had been people congregating by the service desk area, slowing down the clerks who were working and making it difficult to citizens efficiently check-in. The IT team considered a solution that would enable citizens to check-in via kiosk iPads®, then have the digital signage flash each name on the screen, letting them know when they would be served. After the concept was prototyped and approved, the team built a custom application fully integrated with the Hughes platform and the digital signage network. Today, citizens sign in, see their name in the queue, know how long their wait will be, see when it’s their turn and note which clerk to report to. The new registration system has improved customer service, workflow, and efficiency.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the Hughes platform,” Hefner said, noting how easily it can be adapted using HTML. “It’s a great foundation on which to build and implement new applications, like kiosks and registration systems.”
Whether in the Sequoyah Schools or as an essential part of its government infrastructure, Cherokee Nation has found multiple ways to use HughesOn Digital Media Solutions to educate, inform and protect citizens young and old.