Local Area Network (LAN)-Based Digital Signage Solution Using Raspberry Pi

Local Area Network (LAN)-Based Digital Signage Solution Using Raspberry Pi

MengMeng Zhao (AltairX Pty Ltd, Canberra, Australia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJPOP.2017070102

Abstract

This article outlines a case study in which the author employs a Raspberry Pi 3 miniature computer as a Digital Signage System, which can be managed from either laptop, smartphone or desktop computers. The author presents it as a case study that high school students (and their teachers) can follow, as a collaborative project that delivers a cost effective and flexible, digital signage system for their school. While it does not require any coding on their part, it presents an excellent use of ICT, by configuring multiple interrelated hardware and open software, in a school community setting, that would fit in with many contemporary digital technology curriculums.
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1. Introduction

1.1. Uses of Digital Signage for Schools

Schools use signage in their everyday operation, more so than most organisations. In Primary Schools student posters representing individual student assignments have been traditionally displayed down the corridors nearest to a class’s room. Canteens display lunch menus which are read most enthusiastically by students of all academic persuasions. Highlights of school camps come back in the form of photographs and brief summaries by students who have risen as leaders in the associated off-campus activities. Local school fetes, community events and even school newsletters are often sponsored by local businesses. Other usages that are more general and common to most organisations, include event scheduling and general announcements.

1.2. Collaborative Technology Project Addressing Digital Curriculum

All of these traditional school uses of signage and more, represent an opportunity for both teachers and students to introduce many aspects of a Digital Curriculum (E.g. see the Victorian Digital Technologies Curriculum 2017: http://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/technologies/digital-technologies/introduction/rationale-and-aims).

The digital curriculum concentrates on Computational Thinking (Wing, 2006), with an emphasis on problem solving using information systems and technologies. While this can involve coding it often does not. It may not involve computers at all (CS Unplugged, 2017), or it can involve envisaging a new solution that puts together existing pieces of technology with appropriate guidance and knowledge. Setting up one’s own digital signage or smart signage system, is an excellent project-based activity in either primary or secondary schools that can provide a modern, flexible, low cost solution to a traditional school-wide problem.

1.3. Benefits of LAN-Based Digital Signage Solution

The school represents a community space, one that uses Internet-based resources, but one that keeps the Internet back beyond the school boundary. It is a community space where social media represents a considerable threat to student privacy. The modern curriculum also gives all students a good grounding in Cyber Safety. The signage on campus is for students, teachers, parents and carers. This is a perfect environment for a digital signage solution based on the Raspberry Pi, one that is not dependent on the Internet, and one that can be put together and run by teachers and the students themselves. Furthermore, the aftermath of putting the system together, then lends itself to other aspects of a Digital Technologies curriculum, such as: introducing students to decision making that considers the different ways of dealing with people, data and processes, while weighing up the benefits and risks associated for all stakeholders in their community. And even what aspects of their community do they present to an audience on the Internet, to an audience unknown.

In addition, the solution can also be deployed in a classroom LAN by reusing any home wireless router, which removes the dependency on the school IT network and also integrates fundamental network knowledge, and how data transmission occurs within the same subnet.

2. Solution Overview

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a computer network that spans a relative small area. It provides communication lines among computers and shared resources, typically printers, file service, other computers, or Smart TVs and gaming consoles in a home scenario, or in our case – a Raspberry Pi that is going to play digital messages on a connected HDMI screen.

As an analogy, imagine LAN as our city’s transport system, which allows us to travel from one place to another. LAN enables data transmission from one place (e.g. computer) to another (e.g. Raspberry Pi), so that we can reach the Raspberry Pi from our computer.

A LAN can use wires to physically connect the computers involved, or be wireless, or a combination of both. In the case of a wireless LAN you need a wireless access point (WAP), which in our case is a wireless router.

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