Cary, NC, August 22, 2007 — The Maricopa Community Colleges have stepped to the cutting-edge of communication with their students, faculty and staff through an agreement with clearTXT. clearTXT´s Ubiquity, the company´s flagship information delivery and alerts platform designed specifically for colleges and universities, allows the colleges to connect with students via cellular text messages in the event of campus emergencies or need for immediate communication.
As one of the largest higher education systems in the world and the largest provider of health care workers and job training in Arizona, the Maricopa Community College system is comprised of 10 colleges, 2 skill centers, and numerous education centers dedicated to educational excellence. More than 200,000 students attend the Maricopa Community Colleges each year while nearly 4,500 full-time and more than 9,000 part-time faculty and staff are employed.
Increasing student communication opportunities is the primary reason Maricopa Community Colleges looked into mobile messaging to reach their students. Nearly all of the system´s students commute to the various campuses and centers. In addition, many students in the system enroll in multiple colleges during the same semester or academic year. This multi-institutional attendance pattern, common among students attending community colleges, called for a single system-wide solution.
The agreement between the Maricopa Community Colleges and clearTXT came after the successful introduction of the service at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). As a commuter community college whose students manage complex daily schedules, EMCC felt clearTXT would be essential in helping meet one of its primary goals — increasing academic engagement and faculty-student communication. A secondary, but critical, consideration was the ability to issue campus-wide emergency alerts.
"For a number of years our college faced the challenge of how to best reach our students with the most up-to-date campus, classroom, and emergency information," said Roger Yohe, director, center for teaching and learning, EMCC. "The use of e-mail as a primary means of direct communication has been deemphasized as most all of our students now own cell phones and use text messaging regularly."
All of the college´s approximate 5,000 students and 800 full- and part-time faculty and staff have opt-in access to clearTXT, granting permission to the college to text students, faculty, and staff on their cell phones in the event of a need for immediate communication. Students may opt-in via Blackboard, a web-based software system used by the district for flexible teaching and learning.
After initially implementing the system in January of this year, the college recognized that as with most innovative technologies, early adopters on campus were the first ones to actually use clearTXT. In order to further increase user adoption and effectiveness, the campus offers regular faculty workshops on how to use clearTXT as a student communication tool.
The ability to integrate with any legacy e-learning system has proven to be a key factor in promoting academic engagement and faculty-student communication. The clearTXT Building Block provides simple integration, built-in authentication, and automatic course messaging through Maricopa´s Blackboard system.
"Our honors program coordinator reports a greater connection with her students through their use of clearTXT," said Yohe. "We have a number of enrichment programs for our Honors students and the coordinator finds a text message is much more effective than an e-mail reminder."
The college also experienced success with the system´s emergency messaging capabilities. The day after the Virginia Tech tragedy, Estrella Mountain received an on-campus threat. As an integrated part of the college´s emergency communication plan, an evacuation message was immediately sent to students, informing them that the campus would be closed until further notice. Students were directed to the college home page for additional information.
"While we hope to never execute this particular type of message again, we were very happy with the way in which clearTXT helped us deliver the message to our campus community in a very efficient and timely manner," said Yohe.
Founded in 2003, clearTXT is a leading provider of information delivery and alerts platforms for colleges and universities. clearTXT was created by an academic solely to provide communication solutions to the academic community. Its Ubiquity product enables a multi-channel approach for campus communications by sending messages via email, text message, ticker desktop window, instant message and pop-up desktop alert (both PC and Mac). clearTXT currently provides distributed information delivery systems to dozens of universities, including the University of Cincinnati, Louisiana State University (LSU), Seton Hall and the University of Memphis. For more information, visit www.cleartxt.com or call 1-866-472-1901 (toll free).
About Estrella Mountain Community College
Estrella Mountain Community College is located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale and offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training to approximately 13,000 students annually. Estrella Mountain is part of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. For more information, visit http://www.estrellamountain.edu or http://www.maricopa.edu.
About the Maricopa Community Colleges
The Maricopa County Community College District is one of the largest community college districts in the nation. It includes 10 colleges – Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, GateWay Community College, Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix College, Rio Salado College, Scottsdale Community College and South Mountain Community College. The District also includes the Maricopa Skill Center, SouthWest Skill Center, several satellite campuses and business/industry, technical and customized training institutes and serves more than a quarter million students annually. For more information: 480-731-8333, 480-731-8000 or www.maricopa.edu. District News: www.maricopa.edu/press.