Revive Your School’s LCD Panel

2015-09-16_13-04-42If you have an LCD panel in the foyer of your school, but aren’t sure what to do with it, here are a couple of suggestions. A computer, perhaps a Chromebook, will need to be connected to the panel for any of these suggestions to work. (Click the photos to enlarge)

Suggestion 1: Communicate school information using Google Slides or PowerPoint

The LCD panel in your school can also be turned into a display announcing school news, events, or anything else you’d like. This process is a lot easier than creating a photo slideshow, but it still involves the Publish to web function outlined below in order for the slideshow to repeat. The same task can also be accomplished in Microsoft PowerPoint, minus a couple of steps. Simply, create the slideshow in PowerPoint, and then select the option to repeat.

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The same task can also be accomplished in Microsoft PowerPoint, minus a couple of steps. Simply, create the slideshow in PowerPoint, and then select the option to repeat.

Suggestion 2: Create beautiful monthly slideshows by having your staff contribute to a shared Google Drive folder

This could be a great project for a small group of motivated students, or a staff member willing to take on the task! It’s also a great way to get staff in your school familiar with using Google Drive.

Create a School Photos folder within Google Drive and share the folder with all staff. Inside this folder, create subfolders with divisions, clubs, classes etc… For example, an elementary school could have a master School Photos folder, and inside this folder, are subfolders for each division in the school. Each division folder is further broken down into individual classroom folders. It’s a hierarchical folder structure with the School Photos folder at the root.

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In order to upload pictures into folders, the Google Drive app simply needs to be installed on a mobile device. The Google Drive app can be found in the App Store (Apple), or the Google Play Store (Android). Sign into a Google account in the Google Drive app on a mobile device. Over the course of a month, users can upload photos from their mobile device to their class/club folder.

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At the end of each month, a small group of students, or a teacher, can be appointed to download the best pictures from each class/club folder to put into a monthly slideshow that can be displayed on the LCD panel. Google Drive will store photos, but it doesn’t create the slideshow. Additional software is required. Three options come to mind when downloading the pictures and creating the slideshow.

2015-09-16_13-06-43Animoto: The web-based program will produce stunning HD visuals, great music, a vast number of templates, and a simple interface that is easy to navigate. Animoto also provides the easiest method for getting photos from the shared School Photos folder in Google Drive, and into a slideshow. Multiple photos can simultaneously be selected and downloaded to a computer. The downloaded photos will then need to be uploaded to Animoto to create the slideshow. Animoto makes this step very easy. Unfortunately, Animoto doesn’t offer a free option. There is a monthly subscription fee of $13 if purchased for a year. Educators can apply for a free Animoto Plus account for use in the classroom. https://animoto.com/education/classroom

Google Slides: This Google Apps for Education app doesn’t produce the amazing visuals of Animoto, and music cannot be embedded, but it’s free, and easily accessible from a Google account. There’s also no need to download photos from the School Photos folder as Google Slides is linked to Google Drive. To add photos from the School Photos folder into Google Slides, simply select Insert and then Google Drive. The School Photos folder should appear and pictures can be added into Google Slides.

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When the slideshow is completed, select File, Publish to the web, and then ensure the 2 checkboxes in the next window are selected. Click Publish, copy the link in the next window, and then paste it into the address bar in a new tab. Publishing to the web is currently the only way to repeat a slideshow created in Google Slides, so this step is necessary.

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iMovie: This is best on a Mac, but it will also work on an iPad. iMovie for iPad is a free download from the App Store. It’s a great tool for media production, but it is a little tricky when used in this context. Ensure that the Google Drive app is installed on the iPad, sign into Google, and navigate to the School Photos folder.

Each photo that you’d like to be in the slideshow will have to be saved to the Camera Roll, one at a time, by holding a finger down on the full-sized version of the desired image. Once all slideshow photos are saved to the Camera Roll, importing into iMovie can begin, and the slideshow can be created.

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When the iMovie slideshow is finished, it needs to be sent back to the Camera Roll as a video file, and uploaded into Google Drive using the Google Drive app. The slideshow can now be accessed on the LCD panel via the computer that’s attached to it.

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If administration or teachers in your building would like additional support implementing the suggestions below, please let me know. 

Click to download the TVDSB version of this post.

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