With the end of the school year in sight, many educators are preparing for the upcoming prom and graduation season. These days, parents are often using text messages and mobile devices to keep in touch with their children throughout the day. Not surprisingly, district and schools leaders have taken to utilizing similar methods to reach out to parents and students during this exciting and busy time. Just as we demonstrated in our recent post on spring break messaging, Blackboard Connect is a useful tool in helping schools communicate with parents, sending targeted phone calls, emails and text messages. As schools prepare and organize end-of-the-year events, Blackboard Connect can be a valuable tool to keep parents and students aware and informed. 1. Coordination For large districts, graduation events require skillful coordination and organization due to large graduating classes. Schools sending emails with graduation event locations, times and other logistical information like available parking and pre-ceremony assemblies. In the Washoe County School District, leaders at the TMCC Magnet High school are using Connect to send messages to students asking for volunteers to speak or provide talent at this year’s graduation ceremony. During the event, schools can send text messages to designated, pre-determined groups to help ensure students arrive on time and at the proper location. 2. Fundraising and ticket sales At many schools, attending prom requires the purchase of tickets, as the proceeds help pay for the event. Depending on the size of the graduating class and the available seating at the ceremony, some senior graduation ceremonies also require guests to purchase or request tickets to accommodate attendees. To remind parents and students of deadlines to purchase tickets, many schools are using Connect to send messages with pricing information and availability. Sometimes ticket sales alone are not enough to cover the costs of end-of-the-year events, and other additional events or fundraisers are organized to help raise money to be contributed to prom and graduation events. For example, in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, the booster club is hosting a raffle for junior and senior students to win a pre-prom dinner at a nearby French restaurant. Using Connect, administrators are sending emails to parents and student with contest information and raffle ticket prices. 3. Volunteers and participation To successfully host such events, schools often need willing and able bodies to help organize and execute activities. Recruiting volunteers is one thing, but keeping them informed and coordinated can be quite another. Some schools are using Connect to do both by sending messages calling for parent or faculty volunteers, and organizing group lists to distribute messages to specified individuals during the events. If volunteering time isn’t an option for some parents, some schools are asking for donations to help with the planning process. At Chardon High School, for example, the student-led prom committee is using Connect to email parents asking them to share pictures of their students for a slideshow to be displayed during the event. 4. Expectations Graduation and prom are both exciting, highly-anticipated events for high school students. With the excitement, though, many students may be tempted to abuse drugs or alcohol. In preparing for the events, it is worthwhile to remind students of the appropriate conduct and expectations when participating in school-sponsored activities. At St. Charles North High, school leaders are using Connect to call and remind students of the mandatory guidelines to follow for this year’s prom and asked students to sign and return a ‘letter of understanding’ acknowledging and agreeing to the terms. To learn more about how you can use Blackboard Connect to communicate in your school or district, visit the website.
Strengthened by its merger with Edline, as announced last October, Blackboard is the leading provider of online learning, mass notification and website solutions for K-12 schools and districts across the country. Earlier in the month, we gathered prominent district leaders in Pittsburgh to talk about the challenges facing K-12 administrators and educators today, while discussing how Blackboard can help in overcoming those obstacles and producing meaningful academic outcomes. For many attendees, the forum provided an opportunity to share their personal experience driving innovation by implementing new technology and tools within their schools or districts. At the same time, the Blackboard team had a chance to similarly share what is to come in the next few months from K-12 solutions, especially highlighting the continued alignment of Blackboard Connect and Edline. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, the summer offers an ideal time for Blackboard Connect, AlertNow and Teleparent users to upgrade to the improved Connect 5 system. We will be hosting live client demonstrations of Connect 5 all summer to show how the streamlined interface and message creation process can help your district ‘connect with confidence.’ We’re also continually adding to Connect’s already robust feature set by releasing new enhancements like surveys, improved reporting capabilities and an Android application for message senders. Likewise for Edline, joining forces with Blackboard has not slowed the delivery of system enhancements one bit, as new features have recently been added. Users can expect new design layout options, a ‘quick add’ function and mobile browser access. And for those schools using both Edline and Connect platforms to manage communication efforts, a single sign-on access log-in will soon be available to better manage and maintain each system. Although a smaller district, Alton Central Schools District faces the same challenges as larger districts so they rely on the combined services of Blackboard Connect and Edline to effectively communicate with parents and the greater community. Alton Central uses Blackboard Connect to communicate rapidly with parents and the community regarding issues such as weather-related closings and delays, upcoming school events, athletics, and other school activities. Edline allows the school to provide detailed information about the district through a professionally designed, easy-to-navigate website. Together, Blackboard Connect and Edline offer a comprehensive solution to meet virtually any communications need. Visit the Blackboard Connect and Edline website to learn more about how Blackboard can enhance your K-12 school or district.
Over a year ago, Blackboard acquired UK-based organization txttools and has been hard at work bringing our organizations closer to develop a version of the popular two-way messaging service for North America. We are happy to announce that as a reflection of the progress we have made so far, txttools has officially become Blackboard ConnectTxt. As we continue to integrate, existing clients of both platforms stand to benefit from our combined efforts to improve and invest in enhanced messaging technologies.
For students and parents, spring break often provides a momentary pause in the school and class schedule. For administrators and staff of K-12 schools and districts, spring break offers an opportunity to reflect on the first half of the grading period and begin preparations for the end of the year. To take advantage of the week-long hiatus, however, some schools and districts are using Blackboard Connect to send out messages to parents and students to help ensure classes resume quickly and easily.
With nearly 4 in 5 active Internet users visiting social networks and blogs, social media is of growing interest and opportunity for local governments as they work to utilize new platforms for promoting transparency, enhancing engagement and fostering collaboration. As technology continues to evolve and change the way we interact, government organizations cannot rely on only one channel to communicate with citizens. It is increasingly necessary for local leaders and officials to evaluate communication strategies and utilize tools to help ensure time-sensitive information is quickly disseminated and easily available. Not only are social media users increasing daily, but more and more citizens are turning to their social networks to obtain and share information about their surrounding community, as recent reports have published some interesting statistics: