How TrueDialog Helps Higher Education Institutions Communicate With Students During Crises
TrueDialog’s SMS solutions uphold clear communications at colleges and universities, even during a global pandemic.
COVID-19 is the biggest crisis that the education sector has seen in a long time. No one could have prepared for the mass closure of campuses across the United States and around the world. Now, as colleges and universities are delivering classes and learning materials online, it’s more important than ever that these establishments have solid communication infrastructures in place. When teaching staff can keep in touch with students effectively during a crisis, they can help reduce isolation and minimize academic disruption.
Texting is an essential avenue of communication for students, particularly during times of crisis. As a leading provider of text messaging solutions, TrueDialog offers enterprise-grade SMS systems that connect staff and students not only during this turbulent time but also throughout regular day-to-day college life. Education institutions use TrueDialog to facilitate easy correspondence and incorporate all communication channels in one easy-to-use system.
TrueDialog recommends that higher education institutions create text messaging plans to enable seamless communication with students, both during lockdown and when students return to campus. Here’s how you can use TrueDialog’s SMS solutions to plan a text messaging strategy that will keep all students in the loop during a crisis or otherwise.
Creating a Text Messaging Plan
Before texting students, it’s important to plan how your college or university will use your SMS system during a crisis. TrueDialog recommends putting together a communications framework that identifies which groups of students need to receive messages and at which times. This timing is especially important during a crisis.
You can operate a frictionless texting procedure by creating templates in a calendar format so that you have a clear list of timetabled updates to send. You can then segment your contact list so that you’re only sending valuable messages to each student and meeting their individual needs. Once you’ve planned text updates and notifications for upcoming dates, it will be much easier to thread in additional updates when new circumstances come to light.
You’ll need to promote your text communications so that students know that the system is available and can sign up. Tell students how they’ll benefit from the text messaging plan on your social media platforms, in emails, on your website, and in voicemail greetings. Be sure to follow the text messaging regulations set by the TCPA so that you don’t breach any personal data legislation. If you’ll only be sending emergency messages, you need students to disclose only their phone numbers. However, if you’d like to tie promotional texts into your SMS plan, you’ll need to obtain explicit consent from students first.
TrueDialog’s One-Way and Two-Way SMS Communications
TrueDialog offers a one-way SMS system for education establishments that need to send mass notifications and a two-way SMS system for establishments that need to engage in text conversations with students. The system that your institution needs might vary during a crisis.
If you’ll be sending one-way text notifications, use a short-code phone number and a keyword to make opt-ins easy. Short codes have five or six digits and are used for mass communications. If you use a long code to send mass messages, you’ll risk mobile carriers marking your messages as spam and potentially blocking your texts.
Examples of one-way mass messages include texts notifying students of exam dates, assignment due dates, online class schedules, learning resources, virtual event reminders, motivational messages, admissions registration reminders, financial aid reminders, new program announcements, school closure updates, emergency alerts, quarantine tips, and COVID-19 case updates.
Meanwhile, if you’ll be engaging in two-way conversations, you’ll need to use a long-code phone number. These 10-digit codes aren’t suitable for sending mass messages but are perfect for one-to-one correspondence. Colleges and universities can use long codes to text individual students and get quicker responses than they would likely get through email. It’s important to include all two-way conversations in the text messaging plan so that administrators know which students they are responsible for communicating with. A consistent texting system ensures that each student has a single point of contact for each conversation, which avoids confusion and builds trust. You can also set up autoresponders so that students know when to expect responses from each member of staff.
Examples of two-way messages include texts discussing general questions about schedules, online class availability, and office hours; counselor questions about selecting classes for the next semester, obtaining financial aid, and securing career opportunities; and class-specific questions about particular topics, assignments, or exams.
Improving Communication With TrueDialog
Colleges and universities are expected to reopen in the fall when they will hopefully return to a new normal. The virus may be temporary, but the need for consistent communication is permanent. Higher education institutions are under immense pressure to adopt advanced communication systems under lockdown, and these solutions will remain pivotal when schools return to classroom settings. Clear communication is vital now and into the future.
Schedule a TrueDialog demo with a higher education SMS expert or start your free trial at www.truedialog.com.