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Mobile County Schools improves communications with video

With the Cisco Digital Media System, the district is sharing news, events and instructional content.

With more than 9,000 employees and 63,000 students, the Mobile County, Alabama, public school district has extensive needs for communications, both internally and externally. Increasingly, administrators in the district turn to video as the best medium for sharing information among teachers, students and parents.

The district’s use of video increased dramatically with the recent implementation of the Cisco Digital Media System to create, manage, publish and access high-quality digital media on digital signage as well as on a desktop video portal. As part of that implementation, every school in the district has a 50-inch digital display in its lobby, so parents, visitors, and staff can conveniently watch videos of Mobile County School District news.

“Our first priority is to use the Cisco Digital Media System for communications that promote a positive attitude toward the school system from the community,” says David Akridge, executive manager of technology for the district.

"We are saving $3,000 to $5,000 annually by eliminating the need to rent space for our in-service."

Content shown on the digital signage includes a weekly 30-minute news program that showcases district initiatives, a scorecard that highlights district accomplishments, announcements about upcoming events, budget information and student-produced videos.

In addition to the digital signage, Mobile County School District’s video initiative includes a Cisco Video Portal, which allows students, teachers, staff and visitors to watch full-size videos on a PC or laptop. Teachers use the Cisco Video Portal to show content that reinforces classroom instruction. Relatives and friends who cannot attend graduation ceremonies in person can view them live on the web, from any location in the world. And teachers and staff watch in-service speakers on the Cisco Video Portal, saving the time, fuel costs, and carbon emissions associated with driving up to 50 miles.

The Cisco Digital Media System plays an important role in the Mobile County School District’s strategic plan to improve communications between parents, teachers, administrative staff and the public. “We share weekly updates about test scores, PTA events, where we are spending money, and more, in two- or three-minute videos that people are likely to watch,” says Akridge. “We have a $60 million tax referendum on the ballot for November 2010. The Cisco Digital Media System will help us inform voters why the money is needed and how we’ll spend it.”

Using the digital signage and Cisco Video Portal to provide streaming video of graduations has increased community goodwill. “The father of one our students who graduated in 2008 was stationed in Iraq,” says Akridge. “He was able to log into the video portal to watch his daughter walk across the stage and receive her diploma, live.”

Cisco Video Portal has also contributed to cost-savings. “We are saving $3,000 to $5,000 annually by eliminating the need to rent space for our in-service,” says Akridge. “We’re also saving the time, fuel costs and environmental impact of 9,100 people driving up to 50 miles to a central location.”

Now that the Cisco Digital Media System is in place, the Mobile County School District plans to increase its return on investment. For instance, it will use the digital signs to publish warnings and instructions in case of events such as tornadoes, fires, intruders, or campus lock-downs. The district is also investigating deploying digital signs at the Chamber of Commerce, airport, and large employers, playing videos that keep the business community and parents informed about school district activities and accomplishments.

To find out more about Cisco Digital Media system, visit