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Blackboard Integrates its Alert Notification System with its Mobile Learning Platform
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
Most college campuses today are making use of alert notification systems to send emergency alerts to students and staff – such as when a major winter storm leads to a closing or early dismissal. Thanks to IP-based communications, these alerts can be sent to just about any network end device – including smart phones, laptops and desktops, as well as digital signage in the school buildings themselves.
But what you might not know is that some colleges are now leveraging these same alerts systems as a powerful learning tool. With the ability to deliver customized messages to specific select groups of students, college professors can now send timely notifications about assignments, deadlines, schedule changes and grade announcements directly to students’ mobile devices -- which makes perfect sense considering today’s college students use their mobile devices to get news, do research and stay connected all day long.
The problem is, most alert notification systems do not offer support for HTML-based email, which means a professor is mostly limited to sending plain text messages. Considering that most mobile devices today offer support for multimedia, these alert notification systems certainly could be doing a lot more.
As such, Blackboard (News - Alert) Inc., a provider of alert notification systems geared for college campuses, has announced the integration of its Blackboard Connect and Blackboard Learn platforms for the purpose of giving college professors a new means for delivering important classroom information to their students in a timely and automated fashion. Blackboard Connect is the company’s software-based, fully managed alert notification service while Blackboard Learn is its mobile learning platform.
Through the integration of these two platforms – made possible through the Connect Integration Toolkit for Learn (CITL) – college professors now have even greater flexibility to send classroom related announcements – and content – directly to students’ mobile devices. Company officials claim that not only does this enhance student engagement, it also allows professors to deliver communications in the modes that students and faculty prefer most – whether text message, email or voice.
As per a company release, Blackboard recently added support for rich-text HTML e-mail to its Connect platform, thus allowing teachers and other staff to create and send messages with formatted text, embedded images and hyperlinks. This, in turn, allows teachers to send secure document links to students via alerts – thus allowing them to share documents without the capacity and cost constraints associated with traditional file attachments.
Other new enhancements to the Blackboard Connect platform include enhanced accessibility of Blackboard Connect messages, including automatically detecting teletypewriter (TTY) devices for the hearing and speech-impaired. What’s more the system can now deliver severe weather alerts based on data from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic (News - Alert) and Atmospheric Administration.
"Mass notification service is rapidly becoming a critical component of the technology infrastructure for more higher education institutions," said Ed Miller, president of Blackboard Connect, in a release. "These new enhancements help colleges and universities better engage with digital natives and keep them connected with the teaching and learning experience no matter where they are."
Blackboard has also introduced “Behind the Blackboard,” a free knowledge base for all Blackboard Connect clients offering ‘round the clock access to on demand help information, campus communication best practices, community discussion boards and other benefits.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Ed Silverstein