Edtech expands to the stadium

How to use video scoreboards to provide learning opportunities

Video scoreboards have long been an important feature of professional and college stadiums and other sports facilities. Now high schools are eyeing these boards as a way to pique interest in athletic programs, make games more exciting, and provide learning opportunities to students.

When the idea of a digital scoreboard was raised at Nazareth Area High School, a campus of 1,500 students outside of Allentown, Pa., school board members and ad-ministrators were challenged to come up with a way to increase the game experience for student athletes and parents, while also using the new technology to provide au-thentic learning experiences for students.

After installing a 15’5” x 26’ digital scoreboard manufactured by Watchfire Signs less than a year ago, students interested in video production and reporting quickly started shooting video around town and packaging “warm-up videos” to run on the board. Student enthusiasm was off the charts and their ideas started to flow in.

Now that we’ve had some time to learn all the capabilities of our digital scoreboard and have a couple sports seasons behind us, I’d like to share some guidance to other schools considering doing the same.

1. Specify the learning objectives for your digital scoreboard.
Operating a video board has many different components, including graphic design, animations, programming, management, pre-produced video packages, live reporting, and advertising opportunities. Determine which areas make sense for student learning and begin with one or two areas.

During our first year of operation at Nazareth, we invited students in the visual media production class to create short “hype” videos to show during sporting events. Since we already had a course, it was a natural fit to work these videos into the curriculum. We decided to allow a district employee to handle the business side of selling ads, with the idea that we would begin incorporating the video board into business, marketing, and entrepreneurship courses later. Our goal is to make the video board as student-driven as possible.

2. Gather ideas and perspectives.
Create a team of administrators, teachers, and students to brainstorm perspectives on the best way to involve students. We even invited the video board director from our local minor league hockey team to meet with school representatives and students to give us an overview of how she plans, organizes, and programs content. This gave us insight into areas we had never even considered and was a great professional learning experience for students. Professional and collegiate teams often have pros on staff who are willing to share knowledge if asked.

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