What’s with schools and LED screens?

casula_public_school_led_signWhy on Earth is every school in Sydney converting it’s old slide-in-a-single-letter notice board to an LED screen?

LED screens are popping up outside schools all over the place. And that is not a good thing.

For a start these cannot possibly be cost-effective. An expensive device that requires electricity to run with all its attendant wiring and connections has got to be substantially more expensive than the old boards. Now if you were a business that might be justifiable, but for a school congratulating its basketball team it’s hard to see.

And then there’s the self-fulfilling need to change the message. If you’ve got a screen you need to put something on it and have it change often. So the screen tells us what the date is (thanks but there are better ways of finding that out), inter-spaced with generic statements about the school’s greatness (given how many schools are creating future leaders it’s hard to know where the followers will come from), and the occasional bit of school news. The news is an issue because it dates quickly – one of my local schools has had a message congratulating kids in the Da Vinci program up for months now, which suggests that no one has achieved anything else news-worthy in the meantime.

Then there’s the alarming incidence of the screen malfunctioning. Many schools seems to be using their prime real estate to advertise generic error messages – again and again. That either says no one is looking at the screen, which wouldn’t be a huge surprise, or that the expensive hardware requires some, probably expensive, fixing.

Look I love technology. I love new and shiny things. But there’s a time when change just for the sake of it makes no sense at all. Unless the, public, schools are getting a special fund for electronic notice-boards there are many better ways to be spending money. And when every single school is devoting teaching time and effort into environmental concerns there are better messages to be sending than the idea that a perfectly adequate notice board has to be replaced with an electrically powered device that really communicates nothing new.

Normal Luddite-free programming will now resume…

(Sorry Casula PS, by the way, you were just first off the Google image search.)

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