Get that old scholar photo, now! Rethinking media file storage in schools to support marketing and communication teams
Like it or not, the speed of school communication to their community has dramatically increased. From 1980’s physical annual school books, to regular term-based website updates and now to weekly, if not daily social media communications. And this trend shows no sign of abating.
This development is why rethinking media file storage in schools is crucial for ensuring marketers and communicators are well placed to seize upon communication opportunities as they arise.
There are many factors working against school communicators, not least of which are “old school” filing systems, the ad hoc approach to indexing, and the exponentially-increasing volume of photo and video output from teachers, staff, and alumni.
This is why a number of Australian schools are embracing a new web application developed for the school sector, called SchoolBench.
As you’ll see, this purpose-built technology integrates with existing IT infrastructure in schools to remove bottlenecks in file capture and indexing and, most importantly, file search and recovery for publication.
Locating media files in schools for publication
Did you know that only a very small percentage, approximately 3 per cent, of photos and videos in school collections are ever used?
In our work with school communicators, we have found two main reasons for this underutilisation of media assets.
Quality vs quantity
The first one is simply the result of quantity over quality.
During the last three years, technology has made it easier for teachers, staff, and other members of the school community to produce huge volumes of photos and video.
As mentioned in a previous article about media management in schools, the low bar to media production means there are a lot more files for school communicators to wade through.
Outdated indexing systems
However, the second issue is even more of a fundamental problem than the first, outdated indexing systems.
The SchoolBench team has heard, first hand, about the plight of communicators in one private school last year, where they were severely impeded in their jobs due to outdated file management.
In that situation, two old scholars had been drafted by the AFL but it took the school three days to find suitable images of them for a community release because they had to search through piles of physical media, in this case, CD ROMs.
Contrast that to a school with SchoolBench.
Within minutes of learning about an old scholar being drafted by the AFL, a school’s marketing or communication officer could have a shortlist of suitable photos of the former student, confident they are correctly indexed AND have the correct usage rights.
Rethinking media file storage in schools
It might surprise you to learn that most schools and offices use file systems created more than 50 years ago.
The old, file hierarchy approach, was outlined at a computer conference in 1965 – you can read the original paper here, A General-Purpose File System For Secondary Storage – and the way it results in layers and layers of files within folders is the bain of school marketers working to deadlines.
Even earlier, in 1958, this approach was illustrated as a “breakthrough”, developed for the Electronic Recording Machine Accounting (ERMA) Mark 1, by G.A. Barnard III and L. Fein.
As you can imagine, in filing systems like these, it only takes a few changes in folder naming protocols to make it nigh impossible for school communications professionals to find images quickly.
This is why the team behind SchoolBench took to rethinking media file storage in schools.
To start with, smart phones, SLRs, and other devices capture images with various filename protocols, and they do so in great volume, so SchoolBench deploys a range of technology to manage that influx, namely:
- facial recognition to identify students in images as they are uploaded into the system
- contextual indexing of images regarding class groups, activities, etc, by using digital file metadate (with time and date) cross-referenced with a school’s internal calendar
- the cross-referencing of identified images with usage permission files per studient
By using various “tags” for each file, such as student name, activity, event, etc, SchoolBench hands over the power to school communication teams to quickly and easily find suitable photos with correct permissions to meet even the harshest of deadlines.
SchoolBench unlocks storytelling potential for schools
In summary, the use of SchoolBench does away with the use of outdated, slow, and cumbersome 1960s-style file indexing.
The speed and ease of access that school marketing departments can use, has also been shown to spawn new ideas for communication, outlined in our case study of SchoolBench in operation at Seymour College in Adelaide.
The SchoolBench team welcomes enquiries from schools and will arrange demonstrations to help you fully appreciate the power of the system that works WITH your existing IT infrastructure.