After two semesters, we have met all the objectives we set. We have 2,497 users and 92 percent have a registered mobile contact. Our primary use has been emergency communication. About 20 percent are using the Blackboard communication tool and there is a continual interest in the Groups option. As this area grows, it could expand to student organizations that see opportunities to use the tool more broadly to communicate with their members.
Several years ago, we decided we needed to make significant changes to our homegrown communication system.
We had several problems we wanted to fix:
- Inconsistent message delivery speeds.
- No reporting capabilities.
- Limited communication abilities that were originally set up to be only for emergencies.
We are a small school with about 2,200 students with a small staff and a small budget. We needed something we could implement fast and relatively easily.
But even though we wanted a cost-effective solution, we still wanted it to be full featured. We wanted a new system to integrate with our SIS, which is Banner; to be automated as much as possible; and to enable students to manage their own data and update their own accounts.
We read reviews, talked to other schools and developed a list of potential solutions. We knew about Rave, but we didn’t think we could afford it. We were working with AT&T on another project and began discussing Rave with them. Surprisingly, we found that it would be a possibility for us. As we evaluated the features and price point of their solution, it became an easy choice. .
Setup was really simple. We worked with a configuration expert—starting with a questionnaire that we answered during a phone call. He took our answers and within 48 hours he had configured the system and we were testing. From contract to live date was under two weeks.
Our biggest challenge was extracting information from Banner to populate Rave. We developed specific queries and set up an automated transfer of a CSV file to Rave.
Some lessons we learned and addressed included:
- Adding residency information for students.
- Adding student grade level will be added for more targeted messages.
- The importance of data consistency to avoid duplicate record creation.
We were very pleased with the fast, easy implementation. Total staff time required to set Rave Campus Messenger up was probably less than 10 hours. We are able to accurately report on delivery rates and success. We have a comfortable feeling knowing that our students are getting critical messages.
During a tornado warning just a few months ago, we were able to see that 95 percent of our emergency messages had been delivered in less than three minutes.
We like that we can set up common alerts. There’s no time during an emergency to compose a message.
It’s an ongoing challenge to get students to register their cell phone numbers. I also want to make sure that parents are aware we have this and that they are included on the students’ accounts for emergency notifications as well.
We have begun to use the Group messaging with IT staff and the president’s cabinet. Faculty members are beginning to get interested in the idea of polling. Group messages for campus student groups such as social clubs and student organizations will be rolling out.