Watch the video and then complete the to-do list.

Video Transcript

Once you have finished setting up your accounts and users, uploading data, having advanced features activated, and attending a training, you are ready to start using the system. In this video, we will discuss the recommended steps to take before going live.

Create Groups

When your data is uploaded into Connect 5, some groups are automatically created for you based on the columns in the file. But it is easy to create as many groups as you want. Try to think ahead about what you plan to use the system for and create groups you anticipate needing.

Create Templates

Templates are a great way to prepare for future messaging. Whether you plan to send the same routine type of call every day or every week, or you want to be prepared for an emergency, templates are the way to go.

You set these up ahead of time with either just content, just recipients, or both content and recipients. Then, when it's time to send the message, you're either halfway done, or it's just a matter of a couple clicks for it to be on its way.

Prepare Dial-In Messaging

There may be a situation when you need to send a message, but you are not at a computer. Dial-In Messaging lets you call an automated system, enter your user ID and PIN, and send a pre-recorded message, or create a new message on the fly.

For this feature to work, you need to set up a PIN, and select your desired dial-in groups. Go to Account to select a five-digit PIN and click the link to have your dial in messaging card emailed to you. Print the card and keep it in your wallet. Note that your PIN will not be on the card. You must memorize your PIN.

Next, visit Groups and select up to 9 to be available to you via dial in messaging. Every user already has "all contacts" as a recipient option when dialing in. If you want any other groups to be available, move them from the left to the right and click Save.

If you want to have any pre-recorded messages available via dial in messaging, you need to create them as templates, make sure they have both content and recipients selected and make the template a favorite. You can have up to 10 favorite templates.

Smart Phone App

If you have an iOS or Android mobile device, such as a phone or tablet, you can download the Blackboard Connect sender app from the respective app stores.

Make sure that if you download the iOS app, that you've already called to have it activated. The Android app does not require activation to work. Once you've downloaded the app, you can enter your login information and check the box to save it so you will be ready to send a message with a few taps.

Test Message

Determine a date and time for a test message. You may wish for this to be in the evening so that your office is not flooded with calls when the test message goes out.

Notify your contacts (not via Connect 5) when the test message is scheduled for so they can be prepared for it.
Remember that phone messages need to be at least 20 seconds long to be successful, so even though you might not feel like you have a lot to say for a test message, make sure it is at least 20 seconds.

Schedule the message at the promised date and time. Use all the modalities you have available. For email, you may wish to use your own address as the "from address" so that you will receive the bouncebacks. That way you'll know which addresses are bad.

Evaluate Results

When the message is finished sending, evaluate the results. See how many bad numbers and emails you have, and try to get them corrected. Determine if you need to throttle or add an IP address to an allowed list.

Throttling is slowing down the pace of delivery. Connect sends phone calls, emails, and texts lightning fast, and sometimes local infrastructure has limitations, such as the number of incoming lines on a college campus.

An allowed list is created by your IT department allow emails from our IP addresses to bypass the normal spam blocker so they can be delivered in a timely fashion. To obtain our IP addresses, read the following document:

The To-do List

  1. Practice sending messages with Safe Mode activated
  2. Create Groups 
  3. Create Templates
  4. Prepare Dial-in Messaging Card
  5. Download the Smartphone App for iOS or Android
  6. Send a test message
  7. Evaluate results (see the Video Transcript for more information)