How do you define success? Companies can measure success by revenue or market share, by developing leading-edge products or by reputation, accolades or awards. At Blackboard Connect, we think all of those things are important – but there’s another metric we think matters equally: delivering a high level of client satisfaction. That’s why we commission an annual survey of client satisfaction . Conducted by the respected education survey firm Gomez Research, the results have shown a consistently high level of satisfaction: ninety-five percent or more in each of the past three years. We are humbled and encouraged by the feedback we receive from our clients. Their perspective often helps us determine the direction of our product roadmap. In fact, many of the enhancements in Blackboard Connect™ 5 came as a result of the client survey, client focus groups, and even one-on-one conversations with clients. Users asked for an easier interface, so we streamlined the message workflow. Clients were looking for an online message hub, so we created the Connect Access Portal where recipients can review messages, update contact information and subscribe to the content that is relevant to them. With more emphasis on data-driven decision-making, we expanded Blackboard Connect’s survey feature and added real-time message reports and SMS delivery to the mobile handset. Incorporating your input seems to be paying off – Blackboard Connect 5 is serving over 3 million recipients and receiving industry awards in the six months since its release. And we’ll continue to deliver on client feedback as we will be unveiling additional features to Blackboard Connect throughout the year. If you are interested in learning more about Blackboard Connect 5, visit the website or sign up for a demonstrational webinar.
For many towns and cities across the county, mass notification has become an indispensable tool during urgent situations. The ability to send a message out to a large number of people in a moment’s notice is especially useful in protecting citizens and ensuring the safety of local communities. Having received much success and positive feedback from residents as a result of timely notifications, emergency and city managers are also using mass notification tools to send out messages with relevant information and updates. Where it was once believed that non-emergency messages detracted from the effectiveness of mass notification, a recent survey of citizens has found that more regular, routine communication has many positive benefits. In particular, the survey, as conducted by Galain Solutions in conjunction with Blackboard Connect, found that 86 percent of respondents said non-emergency alerts and notifications help them feel more connected to their local leaders and surrounding neighbors. To help communities take advantage of mass notification in sending general outreach messages, we are hosting a free webinar on Thursday, March 8 at 2 p.m. ET. Register and join Lorin Bristow, editor of Emergency Management magazine’s Alert & Notifications blog and leading independent mass notification consultant; the Chief of Police from Palmer, MA, Robert Frydryk; and Peter Franzese, Public Affairs Manager from Concord, NC for an enlightening discussion that promises to include:
- Results from Galain Solution’s recent survey, Mass Notification: The Citizens’ Perspective – Understanding How Local Citizens View Mass Notification
- Ideas for Community Outreach including how Palmer, MA uses mass notification to supplement recovery after major weather events and to announce local events such as Town Council Meetings and road closures
- Best Practices for your messaging strategy – learn what Concord, NC does to ensure better targeted communications in order to avoid message fatigue
For the last three years, we have been proud to recognize exceptional school districts for their efforts in improving school communication by with the Leadership Through Communication Award. This year, in conjunction with the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the Washoe County School District, a K-12 urban school district located in Reno, Nev., has been named as the 2012 award recipient. Superintendent Heath Morrison, Ph.D., and chief communications and community engagement officer Irene Payne have demonstrated leadership and innovation in enhancing communication within the district and between the schools and parents. The state of Nevada was hit hard as a result of the economic downtown, and its unemployment and foreclosure rates rank as some of the highest in the country. Many Nevada school districts have experienced budget restrictions, forcing many administrators and educators to make do with limited resources. Despite the recent turmoil, Dr. Morrison and the district’s Board of Trustees have made significant advances by instituting a strong communication program to support parent involvement and student achievement.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that they will be ramping up efforts to not only increase enrollment to colleges and universities, but also to encourage more students to graduate. The announcement comes only a few days after President Obama introduced a slew of policy proposals aimed to improve the current state of higher education. In the last five years, the cost of tuition has dramatically increased, which can certainly have a negative impact on enrollment and graduation rates as a result. Of course, in an economic downturn, it is easy to attribute enrollment challenges to increased financial uncertainty. However, in a recent publication by Public Agenda, With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them, the study authors set out to better understand the challenges facing current university students by debunking a handful of myths and widely-held assumptions about those students that fail to complete college.
Last month, we announced that Blackboard Connect 5 has seen strong momentum, with hundreds of clients making the switch in the first 90 days of the new release. And while the numbers are impressive, we thought it would be interesting to learn more about what Connect 5 means for individual clients as well. One institution that recently jumped to Connect 5 is Harford County, Maryland. The county government has been a Connect client since 2009, and a wide range of organizations use it to communicate with residents and county employees. County departments like the Emergency Management Office, Highway Department and Sheriff’s Office use the system, but so do local cities and towns like Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace. Harford is a battle-tested user of Connect, leveraging the service in blizzards, hurricanes and earthquakes. When they decided to make the switch to Connect 5, we gave local officials an on-site training session for the new release, and they were kind enough to share their migration experience with us on camera. One user who spoke up was Leo Matrangula, Chief of Police for the Town of Bel Air. He told us, “I think this new Connect 5 system is going to make it easier for someone like me who is not real technical with searching maps and drawing lines and borders. It’s going to make it a lot simpler to get the message out to the people in a timely manner.”