Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog


The Value of Academic and Crisis Text Messaging
April 8, 2008, 7:10 am
Filed under: Articles

For some, the value of mobile text messaging isn’t clear, despite how common it is among the Net Generation (Those students that are born between 1994 and 2000). I think part of the reason is perhaps a lack of experience or awareness of why text messaging is popular and useful. I thought I would take just a moment to highlight a few reasons why I believe text messaging should be a high priority for an educational institution.

While the traditional tools in Blackboard (or another course management system) provide a unique set of communication capabilities, mobile communication such as text messaging is often not included with the system. At the same time, mobile technologies such as text messaging are becoming a significant and highly desired technology. The following quotes highlight this need in education today:

“College officials around the country find that a growing number of students are missing important messages about deadlines, class cancellations, and events sent to them by e-mail because, well, the messages are sent to them by e-mail.” – 2006, Chronicle of Higher Education

“More than 90% of college students own and carry mobile phones.” – Mobility in Education Listserv

“In a 2006 survey by Student Monitor, students rated Text Messaging as more “in” than going to clubs and bars, instant messaging, coffee, working out, MySpace.com, digital cameras, and going to movies.” – 2006, Student Monitor

“Higher education is facing a growing expectation to deliver services, content and media to mobile and personal devices.” – 2008, Horizon Report

“Students are text messaging left and right, and it’s one of the quickest ways to get key information to them on an immediate basis,” said S. Daniel Carter, the organization’s senior vice president. “It keeps students safer. It’s that simple.” – 2007, The Roanoke Times Article on Virginia Tech

“During 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, landline phones and cell phone networks became jammed because of extremely high call volumes. At Virginia Tech many people trying to make a call on or near campus heard a busy signal… A valuable lesson learned from Virginia Tech was that students use their cell phones more than any other communication medium—whether it is during a typical day or during an emergency on campus. Many students are constantly on the move and are not checking their email or a web page.” – 2008, Higher Education Consortia Magazine

Along with this need as referenced by many publications, many GRCC students have indicated a preference for text messaging. Here is a recent poll on the Blackboard Community System portal that suggests that over 53% (1361) students have indicated that they would prefer to receive GRCC communications via mobile text messaging.

Bb Poll on Text Messaging

Academic Value

Because communication, connection, and collaboration are central to teaching and learning, text messaging offers a unique and powerful channel for student to student and instructor to student interaction. At GRCC, one of the primary systems for providing an online communication environment for students, staff, and instructors is Blackboard.

In fact, Blackboard recently acquired a product from a company called NTI Group that was called Connect-ED. This product is now called Blackboard Connect. This underscores the value of text messaging and voice communication in education, since Blackboard also realizes that potential of communication as core to their long term strategy. In an earlier post, I blogged about this Blackboard Connect announcement after it was announced as a press release. At this point it is worth mentioning that Blackboard Connect doesn’t have any Blackboard Learning System integration through Building Blocks. Blackboard Building Block technology includes open APIs and documentation that allow 3rd party vendors to build applications that provide a seamless connection between their application and the Blackboard environment.

Enter clearTXT.

What is clearTXT? clearTXT is a secure, easy-to-use, information delivery system that enables faculty, staff, and student to receive the information they want, the way they want, wherever they are, regardless of the device. Emergency alerts, class announcements, schedule changes, campus news, and other information can be delivered to mobile phones, email, and computer desktops through the clearTXT system.

In addition, clearTXT currently powers our existing text crisis management system here at GRCC. In fact, it has been used in the recent past for college weather closings, bomb threats, and major upgrades to our enterprise applications that impact students, faculty, and staff. There are currently 1200+ students, faculty, and staff signed up with the clearTXT service.

The Ubiquity version of clearTXT provides additional capabilities that include a system that can:

  1. Seamlessly integrate with GRCC’s Blackboard environment through Blackboard Building Blocks.
  2. Easily setup text messaging integration with Blackboard.
  3. Provides automatic course messaging with Blackboard.
  4. Allow instructors to send a text message to all their students in their course.
  5. Allow instructors to send a text message to certain groups of students in their course.
  6. Enable instructors to view the students that have chosen to receive messages broken down by course.
  7. Offer instructors the ability to generate a course announcement using their mobile phone.
  8. Empower students to personalize and choose which courses or groups, and in what format (rss, cell phone, email, desktop alert, instant messaging client, or desktop ticker), they would like to receive course messages from.
  9. Allow instructors to create an announcement for their course while also generating a text message.
  10. Provide students with the ability to create their own text messaging groups for studying with their classmates.
  11. Enable students to receive a text message (email, instant message, desktop alert, or desktop ticker) notifications when new: announcements, assignments, calendar events, or grades are posted by their instructor. And have this capability be set per course.

clearTXT Ubiquity has unique communication capabilities for both emergency and teaching and learning related activities right from within an easy-to-use and already popular Blackboard environment.

Crisis Messaging Value

I think that any crisis messaging system needs to support multiple channels such as: Voice, Web, Intercom, Text Messaging, RSS, etc.  The reason for multiple channels is pretty logical.  First, it provides a series of options for a crisis team to use depending on the emergency or concern.  Second, multiple channels ensure that a communication is received by the end users.  Third, multiple channels can overcome limitations that are inherent with each method.

For students that are driving into campus, for example, will not receive the notification through intercom, home phone, or email.  But they will be able to receive a text message.  I think the Higher Education Consortia Magazine, highlighted earlier in this post, provides a nice commentary on the value of text messaging as one channel of crisis messaging:

“During 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, landline phones and cell phone networks became jammed because of extremely high call volumes. At Virginia Tech many people trying to make a call on or near campus heard a busy signal… A valuable lesson learned from Virginia Tech was that students use their cell phones more than any other communication medium—whether it is during a typical day or during an emergency on campus. Many students are constantly on the move and are not checking their email or a web page.” – 2008, Higher Education Consortia Magazine

Summary

Systems like clearTXT Ubiquity and Blackboard Connect can provide students with one simple system to receive both crisis and academic messages. They will be able to increase their engagement through the ability to more effectively collaborate and share with each other as well as feel more connected to information and services offered by the college.

Faculty will have another channel of communication that they can use to create a more efficient and effective learning experience that contributes to student success.

Administrators and crisis teams will be able to create and send an emergency message that instantly appears to all users, or groups of users in a multitude of communication channel that includes: rss, cell phone, email, desktop alert, instant messaging client, or a desktop ticker.

In short, systems like clearTXT Ubiquity that are integrated with the Blackboard Learning System provides capabilities that contribute to student success, while providing crisis teams with several communication channels that can help to ensure faculty, staff, and student safety.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

If you would like to obtain much from this piece of writing then you
have to apply these methods to your won blog.

Comment by garbage tucson

If you want to increase your know-how just keep visiting this website and be updated
with the latest news update posted here.

Comment by Quinn




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: