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Blackboard Connect Enhances Accessibility

Blackboard has updated its emergency alert system for K-12 schools. The latest release of the system, Blackboard Connect, expands accessibility features and also adds automated weather alerts.

Blackboard Connect is a hosted mass notification service for broadcasting school emergency alerts and announcements via voice, text, and e-mail. Blackboard also offers Connect for Teachers, which allows educators to send individualized messages to parents about student assignments, tests, conduct, and other school-related information via pre-recorded messages available in 22 different languages.

The new version, announced Friday, adds HTML support, allowing users to create and send formatted messages with embedded images and hyperlinks. It also adds enhanced accessibility support, including the ability to detect TTY devices automatically.

For document handling, the new version includes support for document links within notifications, allowing users to send files without attaching them directly within the e-mail itself.

Finally, it also adds automated alerts based on severe weather conditions using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.

In other Blackboard product news, the company has also updated its AlertNow mass notification system. Blackboard acquired AlertNow earlier this year when it bought out developer Saf-T-Net. The latest version, also released Friday, gives AlertNow users access to Blackboard Connect for Teachers. It also adds HTML e-mail support, mail merge, spell checking, new reporting capabilities, phone relay options, and a sampling of pre-written scripts.

The company has also introduced Behind the Blackboard, a knowledgebase for users of AlertNow and Connect. It's expected to launch within the next month or so, according to Blackboard.

Further information can be found here.

Editor's note: This article has been updated since its original publication to correct possible inaccuracies. Specifically, the Behind the Blackboard service has not yet been launched, as had been previously indicated. [Last updated July 9, 2010 at 5:58 p.m.] --David Nagel

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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