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East Central University has implemented the Connect-ED® communication service from Blackboard Connect Inc. to provide university leaders with the ability to reach students, faculty and staff with time-sensitive information within minutes.

"Today we are forced to prepare for situations that years ago we never could have anticipated happening," said ECU President John Hargrave.

Frank Williams, ECU's information technology director, said the university recognizes the important role that immediate communication plays in safety.

"We selected the Connect-ED service because of its successful track record and multi-modal capabilities that will allow us to keep students and staff informed whether they are in their dorms, sitting in front of their computers, or on their way to class," Williams said.

The service was built exclusively for post-secondary institutions using the experience gained in delivering hundreds of millions of messages for educators over the past seven years. It enables campus leaders to schedule, send and track personalized voice messages at up to six phone numbers and two e-mail addresses per student and staff member.

The service helps officials reach out to students and staff via: 

  • Voice messages to home phones, work phones, cell phones and even e-mail addresses
  • Text messages to cell phones, PDAs, networked digital signage and other text-based devices
  • Text messages to e-mail accounts 
  • Messages to TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired

"It's crucial that we are able to notify students quickly in time-sensitive situations because up-to-date communication helps minimize the spread of misinformation, restore order and provide direction," Williams said.

The system can be used to notify entire student populations and staff members of school closures and contingency plans due to unforeseen incidents. The Connect-ED service has been successfully used for communication by schools across the country during such events as the wildfires in Southern California, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ernesto, school evacuations, campus notifications required by the Clery Act, and to help locate missing persons.

More information about the Connect-ED service for post-secondary educators is available The service is provided by Blackboard Connect Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Blackboard Inc.

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