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Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
Explore the full series of eCampus News podcasts hosted by Kevin Hogan—created to keep you on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
Emergency notification in jeopardy if students tune out digital signage
If a digital sign can’t convey a message in seven seconds, the technology runs the risk of blending into the background, one expert says—and during campus emergencies, that could prove dangerous.
Schools and departments on college campuses are often competing with each other to see which building touts the most advanced digital signage, but in the arms race for fancy graphics on impressive screens, the potential for emergency messages is lost, said Sean Matthews, president of Visix, a developer of software that’s used in digital signage.
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College changes emergency alert system after tsunami scare
Marymount College in Palo Verdes, Calif., has switched to a cloud-based emergency notification system after the campus’s old alert technology failed to warn students and faculty of a possible tsunami headed toward the school last spring.
Marymount officials said that the aging emergency notification system not only left the 800-student campus–located near the Port of Los Angeles–without timely warning, but school administrators weren’t able to contact the company in charge of the system as reports swirled of a tsunami off the California coast.
Denise Fessenbecker, the college’s director of general services, said customer service representatives who managed Marymount’s account with the emergency alert company didn’t respond to the school’s requests for six days after the tsunami threats first surfaced.…Read More
Translating Twitter for campus disasters
Twitter just got even more concise: Students, faculty members, and campus administrators can tweet more efficiently with an application that provides a shortcut for asking for #Help or telling loved ones #Imok.
Bucket Brigade Keyboard, a free app for Android devices developed by University of Colorado (CU) doctoral student Daniel Schaefer, uses an alternative keyboard to translate Twitter chatter into syntax used during fires, earthquakes, floods, or campus shootings.
Creating a common language for emergencies, Schaefer said, could improve social media communication during the tense first hours of a natural disaster or security incident. Students, in other words, won’t be yelling into the void of tweets and random hashtags.…Read More
New Blackboard notifications: Customizable, quick, and mobile
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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Notification delay surfaces in Alabama shootings
Nearly an hour passed before University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) officials dispatched emergency notification to students and faculty after fatal shootings allegedly committed by a professor, raising new questions about campus-based alert systems.
University President David Williams sent an eMail to faculty and students Feb. 15—three days after the shootings that killed three people and injured three others—and said campus police responded to the gunfire within minutes, but the university community was not alerted via text message or eMail.
“… Some of you are understandably troubled about the speed with which a text message alert was sent following the shootings,” Williams said in his open letter to UAH students and faculty. “As any institution would do after an incident like this, our university will conduct a complete examination of the emergency response. How to more effectively use the university’s text message system in the midst of a fast-moving, life-threatening situation will certainly be part of that review.”…Read More