While text messaging and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have transformed the way that today’s students communicate, the problem is that most educational institutions haven’t quite kept up. Far too many colleges and universities still rely on traditional one-way messaging methods like old-school (forgive the pun) learning management systems, email and even print, to communicate with students. One company, ConnectYard (www.connectyard.com), aims to change that.
Founded in 2007, Wayne, New Jersey-based ConnectYard provides a platform for educational institutions that integrates their learning management systems with the social media tools students use to connect students and instructors for a more web-based community, and provide a better learning experience at the same time. Its Campus Communications solution, for example, gives institutions a way to deliver messages to students, faculty, staff, campus security, first responders and others, leveraging social media accounts, mobile phone numbers and email addresses to ensure prompt delivery of vital communications. Messages regarding campus events, parking, or registration can be sent easily to the entire community or to user-defined groups.
ConnectYard‘s other key product, Course Communications, provides institutions and students with a customizable, two-way communication platform that links media-savvy students with the school’s learning management system, creating a record of discussions regardless of whether messages originate from text, Facebook or Twitter.
“ConnectYard solutions bridge the gap between students and the institutions that serve them,” says co-founder and CEO Donald Doane, who also founded web systems provider OpenDemand Systems. “Our mission is to improve retention and graduation rates by transforming the way students learn and reaching them where they already spend time online.” Doane met fellow co-founder and chief operating officer Dr. Grant Warner, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University and long-time web-based learning solutions innovator, when they were both students at Cornell University.
“We find that using collaborative learning strategies and promoting the social integration of students into the school community has an incredibly positive impact,” adds Dr. Warner.
ConnectYard‘s clients include the United States Air Force Academy’s Air University, Anne Arundel Community College, Concordia University, California University of Pennsylvania and Dominican University, and its first client was the founders’ alma mater, Cornell University.