The student voice is a necessary and defining opinion in marketing and determining future initiatives on college campuses. For most universities, elections are held in order to democratically decide the representative to speak for the student population. After several years of limited turnout and lackluster campaigns, officials at West Lothian College decided to take advantage of the mobile student body and emerging mobile technologies by conducting student elections using the Blackboard ConnectTxt service, allowing student to vote for their candidates via text message.
Located in Livingston, West Lothian College serves 8,000 full-time, part-time and distance students enrolled across a multitude of academic disciplines and focuses. With so many student interests to ensure, the student elections often provide a forum for collective voices to be heard. Many students, busy balancing course work and personal responsibilities, however, would often forget to vote or simply weren’t aware of the voting schedule.
In early 2012, Russell McAdam, the college’s marketing officer, attended an online product training session to learn how to take better advantage of the service’s features. “After the workshop, I got in touch with the tech department and ConnectTxt in order to set up the inbox rules and gave me a run-down of how the voting would work,” said McAdams.
Using the candidate names as labels, the students were to text the name of their chosen candidate to a designated number within a two-week voting period. Text messages were sent out once a week during the voting period to remind students to send in their vote. Votes were easily tallied and a winner was chosen using the ConnectTxt reporting function.
With the texting voting process, student participation dramatically increased. Feedback from the students and campus community was overwhelmingly positive. In 2008, only 83 students participated in the old voting process where ballot boxes were used to collect votes. Using ConnectTxt to conduct the elections, there were 995 students who participated in the elections in 2012 — that’s nearly an 1100 percent increase.
“Using ConnectTxt to vote for the Student President could not be easier. All my classmates have smartphones and within a few seconds we were all able to vote for the Student President this year. We all lead busy lives during our studies, however by sending a text we can make our vote very quickly and cheaply,” said James McDonald, West Lothian Student President.
With the success of the student elections, West Lothian continues to look for more ways to utilize text messaging for engaging and interacting with the student population. To learn more about how you can use two-way texting to improve student engagement on your campus, visit the ConnectTxt website.