New Blackboard notifications: Customizable, quick, and mobile

Blackboard Connect lets administrators translate messages from English to Spanish.

College students already inundated with eMails and texts to their smart phones now can decide when they get campus messages blasted out to the student body using Blackboard Inc.’s latest iteration of its emergency notification system. Emergency alerts, regardless of customization, would still be sent to everyone.

Officials from Blackboard’s Connect division announced July 11 that new features available through the company’s alert program would include customization, easier targeting of specific student groups, and the option of sending messages via Apple mobile devices.

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Blackboard’s updated notification system uses technology from AlertNow, a company used in more than 2,200 K-12 school districts that was bought by Blackboard last year.

Ed Miller, president of Blackboard Connect, said in an interview with eCampus News that since everyday announcements about campus events are sent to everyone on campus, educators wanted a system that allows users to tell the school not to message them at certain times.

“In this era of info overload, you’ve got to give them the option of sending them information many different ways,” Miller said. “We’ve heard [students] say, ‘Don’t overwhelm me with information that’s not pertinent. Don’t text or call me at night when I’m at work.’”

Miller said Providence Equity Partners’ recent $1.64 billion acquisition of Blackboard wouldn’t change the price of the company’s Connect system.

“People get that message,” he said. “Virtually nothing has changed.”