Our goal is to educate and inform students about programs, events, and services that are an important part of a Biola education. We are focused primarily [but not exclusively] on undergraduate students.
Since much [but not all] of our communication involves ‘co-curricular’ programs and events, we are part of the Division of Student Development. However, we partner closely with any and all academic and administrative areas that request our help in reaching students with important information. Read more about us.
How Can We Help You?
We have the tools to help you communicate your message to Biola students:
- digital signage across campus
- studentlife.biola.edu website, getting 30,000+ hits monthly
- my.Biola announcements and channels, targeted to students based on class levels, major, or other customizable demographics.
- @biolastudent twitter account
- Biola studentlife on Facebook (in progress)
How To Use Our Services
A few questions to ask yourself even before you contact us:
- Who am I trying to contact (all students, or a particular subgroup)?
- Which of the media listed above would best get my message across? We're often asked if there's a 'silver bullet' out there, the 'best' way to reach students. We believe the 'shotgun shell' metaphor is more accurate; while some messages work better in particular media, it's usually best to put your message out in as many different media as makes sense.
- Do I have some creative skills or access to someone who does? While we can push your information out through the various channels we control, our department is too small to function as a 'design studio.' While we can assist and advise, we do not have the resources to write your announcements or design your graphics for you. UCM can be of help here, and there are also an astonishing number of students on campus who can too.
- Do I have a website or other source for more information? Our media are at best 'headline' services, ways to get attention but not provide great detail. We suggest having a website, email address, or at least a phone number your viewers can contact for detailed information.
Putting Something Up On the Digital Signage System
Submitting a my.Biola Targeted Announcement
Requesting a my.Biola Targeted Content Channel
Submitting Content for the studentlife.biola.edu Website
Putting Something Up On the Digital Signage System
What we need from you is just an image file. The format/specs that we need:
- JPG format
- size/dimensions 1920 x 1080 pixels (horizontal)
- resolution 150 dpi (72 dpi is ok but 150 looks better)
And please be sure to include a start and end date! (in your email, not on the graphic)
Usually such graphics fit as Gmail attachments. Send to email@example.com (two m's in comm). If it's too big, you can upload it to Dropbox and send us a link, or even drop off a thumb-drive to our office (with your name on it, so you get it back!).
So if you've got some basic photo-editing software (iPhoto or Photoshop or even something free like Photoscape), that should be do-able.
What Makes a Good Graphic?
Eye-catching is the key: Beautiful, striking, or familiar/beloved images get attention. But don't let your message get lost in the visuals.
Keep it simple; the image/design should produce clarity, not confusion or doubt.
Since it'll only be up for 7-10 seconds at a time, keep text to a minimum.
With such little text, consider using just one font style... two at most.
If you're using a photo as a background, we do encourage people to use the highest-res photo possible so that it doesn't look awful when it's blown up to such a big size. About 300k should be a minimum filesize for a photo (bigger is always better, 'cause we can shrink or crop it; smaller is often bad).
Of course, if you pull an image off the Web, please respect copyright and fair-use laws.
Include a simple URL so people can get more info.
The best thing may be to look at the images that are currently up on the signage; which ones catch your eye, and why?
But I Can't Do That!
If you don't feel comfortable with photo-editing software, we've been able to 'translate' graphics people have made using Powerpoint or even PDFs. The suggestions [above] about resolution and image size and dimensions still apply.
This is where TAs or bright students come in handy. They've often been doing this kind of thing for years! Or you may have a latent graphic-designer somewhere in your office... maybe it's you!
On which monitors would you like this to appear?
Please include this info in your email:
- Café monitors (2)
- Eagles Nest
- Upper Student Union Bldg
- Residence Hall lobbies (8)
- Sutherland lobby
- Marshburn lobby
- Talbot East lobby
- Student Services lobby
- All monitors
Do You Run Everything People Submit?
We try hard to meet your needs, and we recognize that not everyone is a graphic designer. So we do run most of the things that are sent to us. But we also have a 'gatekeeper' role here, in terms of quality and content, and we have both the authority and responsibility for what goes up there. The things that raise red flags for us are:
- Graphic quality is bad: Either the pic is too small/low-res and looks bad when blown up big, or it's really poorly designed. Usually we've been able to remedy these with just a couple of suggestions. Feel free to run a draft by us if you're not sure.
- If the content is not in keeping with Biola guidelines, it won't run. Since some of our signs have 'captive audiences' (as in the Caf), we feel an obligation to be conservative; if you're not sure, please contact us.
- Content vs. context is also important; there may be a graphic that's okay for a Res Hall lobby, but not in your face while you're eating dinner in the Caf. Conversely, some images may be fine for the Caf or the SUB but not for an academic building (TalbotEast, etc.).
- Audience size is important. If your announcement is only directed at a small percentage of the audience, we may turn you down (i.e., "COMM 601 study group meeting tonight in Bob's room, 7 pm"). Note that we do try to consider potential audience; the Batman Fan Club may only have 8 members, but if it's open for 4000 students to come if they wanted, we'd probably run their announcement. We try to be flexible with this, but the large number of announcements submitted means we're often forced to give preference to announcements with the largest potential audience.
- The audience-size effect changes from location to location. An announcement for Spanish majors may not be 'broad' enough for the Cafe signs, but would be appropriate for the Sutherland sign (since Modern Foreign Languages is located in Sutherland, as are most of its classes).
- Saturation is a variable as well. If you send us 12 graphics for your event, we probably won't run more than one; exceptions are made for university-wide events.
Can I Do Video?
Yes, but… and it's a big "but". Our system was not designed with video in mind, so there are a lot more "no's" than "yes's" ahead.
It's not for the faint of heart. Trans-coding video to be sure it works effectively on our system will take expertise on your part, and testing it will take some time for us, but video can be used if we have sufficient lead time. We've had success [but we've also had problems] when video is reformatted using Handbrake, with the following settings:
- "Apple Universal" template (or "Universal" option) under Devices.
- format = mp4 file
- video codec = H.264
- size should be 1920x1080 for the best quality picture
We will need an actual file from you. We do not have the ability to stream from online (Vimeo, YouTube, etc.).
Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to transcode your video for you. If you're considering video, please contact our office directly before submitting. Another restriction on the use of video: Lack of sound [see next].
Can I Do Video with Sound?
Our system is not (with one exception) set up to provide audio of any kind. This is due to the monitors being located where (a) audio would add to an already typically-loud environment, or (b) audio would bother or disrupt offices, classrooms, or study space. Many of the monitors do not have speakers at all, and those that do are mostly disabled.
We have experimented [with varying degrees of success] with audio on the “Café south” monitor [the smaller of the two], and we are open to discussing this with you; again, please contact us directly.
Still Have Questions?
Contact Student Communications via e-mail or at 562-903-6000 ext. 3855 (on campus ext. 3855).