Dozens of notification systems are on the market. Here are some of the fully hosted online services designed specifically for K12 education.
Originally designed for emergency communications, AlertNow has a range of capabilities that enable regular non-emergency messaging as well, and it distinguishes between them by displaying “411” on the caller ID only during an emergency situation. The system connects through landline or mobile phones, e-mail, fax machines, or pagers. A secure Web interface enables administrators to create an unlimited number of distribution groups, schedule messages, survey parents, manage contact lists and view delivery reports.
$1-$3 per student annually
Blackboard’s Connect-ED system enables administrators to record, schedule, send and track personalized voice messages to students, parents and staff members, and it includes utilities for emergency notification, survey taking, and community outreach. Users can also custom group their recipients. Supported formats include landline phones, text, e-mail, voicemail and PDA/pagers.
$3-$3.60 per student annually
While e2campus has focused primarily on colleges and universities in the past, the company has recently begun moving aggressively into K12. E2campus particularly emphasizes its wide range of platforms, including social networking utilities. Intended primarily for emergencies, e2campus broadcasts voice and text messages across phones, e-mail and instant messaging services like many similar products, but it also connects with Twitter, Facebook and RSS readers.
Average of $2 per person annually
Global Connect’s system is designed for both routine and emergency messaging via voice, e-mail and text. A custom call list feature enables administrators to contact targeted groups, confirmation key settings allow for community polling and survey taking, real-time reporting functions allow users to see who has been contacted and when, and an instant callback feature enables parents, staff members or students to return a call to get additional information.
$2 per student annual base price, first six months free
Honeywell Instant Alert
With Instant Alert, users can record up to a 30-second voice message or send text messages and e-mails at a rate of 100,000 in 15 minutes, for emergencies or daily information such as schedules, newsletters, attendance notifications and announcements. Honeywell also includes a fully staffed help desk available at all times, 24 hours a day, to assist in emergency notification if needed.
$2.25-$5 per student annually
SchoolMessenger emphasizes flexibility of scale by offering a variety of notification packages to suit districts of different sizes. Its CommSuite is a fully hosted, full-featured service, or districts can choose from a configurable, more affordable Flex Appliance for routine communications that taps into the hosted service only in an emergency, or a stand-alone service that makes use of existing network infrastructure.
$1-$3 per student annually
SchoolReach’s system includes a Message Center, which enables users to record, store and manage a library of up to 99 messages. Administrators can call in to record, use a text-to-speech utility that translates typed words into a computer-generated voice, or upload WAV files of recordings made on a computer. SchoolReach also offers a variety of detailed reporting functions that track the success of each broadcast.
$2.50 per student annually
Teleparent’s notification system is designed to be used by teachers as well as administrators. Teachers can schedule and send messages to the parents of a class or individual students concerning everything from unexcused absences, classroom behavior or upcoming exams, while administrators can use the system for emergencies. Teleparent also supports dozens of languages with live translators.
$1.75-$3.75 per student annually