Quebec District Move to Blackboard Service for Mass Notification
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Lester B. Pearson School Board in Quebec, Canada has chosen Blackboard's Connect-ED system to manage mass notifications and alerts. The service will be used to inform parents, students, and staff members of school closures and contingency plans due to unforeseen incidents, as well as other important school and student announcements, such as attendance issues at the 30,000-student district.
The district tested the system in February, sending out 23,000 calls to 33,000 people--20,000 of the messages in English and the remainder in French. The calling was completed in 20 minutes, a district newsletter reported. The same article suggested that the system could generate 750,000 a year--two a month for every school and four from the school board during the year--for an approximate cost of about C$75,000 (about US$58,000).
"We recognize how important parental engagement is in the overall success of our students," said Robert Mills, director general at the school. "With Blackboard Connect, we will be able to quickly communicate with parents and students to enhance ongoing outreach initiatives with our entire school community that help support our overall mission and direction."
The service gives school administrators a means to schedule, send, and track personalized voice messages at up to six phone numbers and two e-mail addresses per student and staff member. Messages are sent through four different modes of communication:
- Voice messages to home phones, work phones, cell phones, and e-mail addresses;
- Text messages to cell phones, PDAs, networked digital signage, and other text-based devices;
- Text messages to e-mail accounts; and
- Messages to TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired.
Since the application is hosted by Blackboard, the school doesn't need to install or maintain additional hardware to support it. And the service can be instigated by a Web browser or phone, allowing administrators to send messages from wherever they're located. Additionally, officials receive reports on contacts that did not receive a message, enabling them to follow up through alternative means as needed.
The service is used by Wilmette School District 39 in Illinois and California's Baldwin Park Unified School District and Lawndale Elementary School District, among others.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.