For the Blackboard Connect team, winter is an exceptionally busy time of the year as many K-12 school districts and higher education institutions rely on Blackboard Connect to get the word out about snow days and delayed starts. Meanwhile, government agencies turn to Blackboard Connect to communicate with their constituents when exceptionally bad weather rolls in. In the last few years, winter storms have become increasingly severe, with many towns and cities being affected for days on end, even after the storm has passed. Already this year, we have seen a freak autumn snow storm incapacitate the Northeast, as many New England communities were without electricity for nearly 5 days.
We are excited to announce that the 2012 Blackboard Catalyst Awards is now OPEN for submissions! The Blackboard Catalyst Awards honors those who push the boundaries of their educational programs and technology in order to deliver innovative and effective learning experiences. In previous years, innovators were recognized in a handful of categories, mostly focused on academic course planning and creation. This year, however, the Blackboard Connect client community will have a more direct way to participate thanks to the inclusion of a brand new category — Communications Strategy.
For the third year in a row, Blackboard Connect has been selected by the readers of District Administration magazine as one of its Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products for 2011. The list is decided by DA readers, made up of school superintendents and district-level leaders, by nominating exceptional education products worthy of recognition and widespread adoption by their academic and administrative peers. While we are appreciative of every award bestowed upon us, we are especially grateful to be receiving this honor as it stands as a testament to our clients’ satisfaction with our service year after year. This award serves as the cherry on top of what has been an especially sweet year for the Blackboard Connect team. In this past year, we launched Blackboard Connect 5, we sent a record-breaking 19.2 million messages in one day, we helped our clients communicate during hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and freak snow storms, all the while maintaining our ability to help administrators and educators improve student success through routine messaging and regular community outreach. We would like to take this opportunity to thank not just those that submitted nominations, but all of our clients for their continued support and partnership. The satisfaction of our clients serves as constant motivation, as we strive to continually deliver innovative and reliable product and enhancements. To learn more about our commitment to superior service, watch our online video.
This week at The University of Edinburgh, educators and community leaders from all over Britain converged on the Teviot Debating Hall for the ninth instalment of Let’s talk about txt. The twice-annual event is a forum for representatives of universities, local councils and other institutions to highlight and share the latest knowledge and best practices for utilising SMS in community engagement, teaching and learning. Keynoter Brian Hipkin, Dean of Students at Regents College, gave an eye-opening talk that emphasized how texting has come to serve as the underlying fabric of social connection. With txttools, a service of Blackboard Connect, Hipkin has put together impressive programmes that attract, engage and retain students at several higher education institutions. Perhaps most impressively, in his entire 45 minute presentation, Hipkin used only 176 characters – demonstrating how much one can accomplish, even under the severe constraints that SMS imposes.
Educause is one of the biggest educational events of the year, and this year’s conference was no exception. With many of our clients in attendance, we had the chance to collaborate with several educational leaders to present notable sessions, providing the higher education teaching and learning community with interesting insight and information. One of the more memorable sessions focused on using social media within courses and on campus to better engage and communicate with students. Dionne Curbeam of Coppin State University led a discussion on how the university has used social media and mobile notifications from Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Connect to enhance the student experience on campus. Located in Baltimore, Coppin State University has more than 4,000 students. Its student population is increasingly mobile and technologically inclined and, as a result, university leaders have set out to engage students on their mobile devices.