Today, I’m excited to announce Blackboard Connect 5, the most extensive update to the Connect platform yet. Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of schools, universities and local governments across the country send billions of messages, and our team has been hard at work over the past year building on that experience, with a set of features that can help transform your communications strategy, improving your outreach in both emergency alerts and everyday outreach situations.

Connect 5 is all about helping you create and send messages faster, and sending notifications that are more targeted and relevant to the people that matter to you.

Here are some of the key components we announced today:

  • Streamlined interface. Most noticeably, Blackboard Connect 5 debuts an interface that’s been redesigned from the ground up. The message creation process has been streamlined with a one-page workflow, minimizing the number of clicks between you and the “Send” button. We’ve also added scenario templates, enhanced geo-mapping tools, automated language preference recognition, and real-time delivery reports.
  • Access Portal. Blackboard Connect 5 also features the Connect Access Portal, which allows your message recipients to add contact information and review previously received messages. The Portal also allows your audience to set preferences for message delivery, including language and TTY controls, which will help you reach the right audience with the right message.
  • Mobile app. As smartphones continue to play a vital role everyday life, Blackboard Connect 5 also includes an iOS application. With Blackboard Connect for iPhone, users can access the service anywhere using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. From our clients who’ve been testing the app, we’ve heard that it’s the fastest, easiest way to send a message when you’re away from your desktop.
  • APIs. With Blackboard Connect 5, we’re launching platform APIs for customers and third parties to integrate their applications with the Blackboard Connect service. The APIs provide access to our core messaging and contact management functions that will make writing applications and extensions for the Blackboard Connect system easy.

We’ll be talking a lot about Connect 5 this week at BbWorld 2011 in Las Vegas and the NSPRA conference in San Antonio.  If you’re not headed to either event, you’ll definitely want to follow Twitter hashtags like #connect5, and #bbworld11 or #nspra11 to follow all the news.

We’ll have lots more to share over the coming weeks and months, as clients share their Connect 5 success stories, and as we turn on even more exciting features.  In the meantime, you can learn more about Connect 5 at our website, or if you’re an existing client, you can contact your Care representative for more information about putting the new improvements to work for you.

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