By Terri Mock - June 10, 2021
The temporary opt-in capability of the Rave Platform is a valuable asset for all organizations that welcome visitors to their facilities as it ensures those who would not normally be included in the organization's messaging database can receive critical or informative communications. While the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the capability can also be beneficial to organizations that welcome virtual visitors. The temporary opt-in capability of the Rave Platform works in a similar way to how retailers use SMS marketing. In SMS marketing, a consumer texts a keyword (i.e., “PIZZA”) to a short code number (i.e., 74992) in order to take advantage of a promotion. The consumer is then invited to opt into the retailer's SMS marketing database in order to receive details of further promotions by text message or can prevent the retailer contacting them again by texting “STOP” to the same short code number.
For colleges and universities, there are many potential uses for the temporary opt-in capability. It can be used to include visiting faculty, contractors, and agency workers in emergency notifications, provide schedules to conference delegates and visiting parents, or keep visiting sports fans up-to-date with team news, team line-ups, and more. During the summer months, a temporary opt-in capability could also be used to alert, inform, or engage students attending summer camp programs.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many summer camp programs this year have been suspended or are operating remotely with students being given the opportunity to sharpen their STEM skills and bond with new friends from the comfort of their own homes. While this arrangement may be more cost-effective for parents and less stressful for students who may have difficulty adapting to life away from home, it raises new issues for program organizers.
Possibly the primary issue is that the virtual camp experience will likely be similar to the remote high school experiences many students have had over the past eighteen months. While this in itself is not a problem - because students will be accustomed to using educational software and communicating via Zoom – the mental health issues attached to remote learning could well be carried forward from the virtual classroom to the virtual summer camp, if not exacerbated.
A second issue is that, although high school students will be accustomed to using educational software and communicating via Zoom, the hosting organization (i.e., college or university) may not be so accustomed to the lapse online security practices of teenage high school students compared to college-aged students. Without the mechanisms in place to ensure students are using software safely, there is an increased likelihood of successful cyberattacks and network intrusion.
While it is possible students could experience mental health issues and systems experience cyberattacks in an in-person environment, it is much harder for program organizers to keep on top of how students are feeling and how they are using college or university software when they are attending virtual summer camp programs. However, the same temporary opt-in capabilities that can enhance in-person communication can also be used to support students attending camps remotely.
One of the best ways to use the opt-in capability in these circumstances is by sending polls to students via SMS text. Polls consist of a question with multiple answers that students respond to by pressing a number on their mobile phone keypad, meaning that students do not have to be online at the time the polls are sent to participate on them. Polls can be used to conduct virtual mental health wellness checks or ensure software is being used safely as the following examples demonstrate:
With the exception of A1, the remaining three answers could be indicators of anxiety; and although individually, the questions and answers may not indicate a student mental health issue, the Rave Platform can be configured to automatically send a follow-up message depending on the answer given to the initial message. For example, in response to “Possibly. I had a really bad night” a follow-up Q&A could enquire:
The answers from each student are collated on the Rave platform so trends in student behaviors and responses can be identified. Thereafter, program organizers can direct mental health resources to students who need them. Multiple student mental health studies have shown that the early identification and treatment of mental health issues can prevent students developing academic and social problems, substance abuse, school failure, and dropping out.
Again, with the exception of A1, the other three answers could raise concerns. Although parental permission is no guarantee of online security, the type of software being downloaded and installed is likely to be more carefully scrutinized by parents than by older siblings or friends. As with the previous example, the Rave Platform can be configured to automatically send follow-up messages depending on the initial response. For example, in response to A4, the Q&A could be?
Without knowing the nature and the purpose of the software, it is difficult to draw conclusions on how safely third party is being used by the student. However, further follow-up questions can help establish whether it is a good idea to contact the student's parents to raise concerns about their online security and the impact it may have on using the software provided by the college or university for the student to participate in a virtual summer camp program.
Whether your college or university is running in-person or virtual summer camp programs, there is a wide range of uses for Rave Platform's temporary opt-in capabilities. If you would like to find out more about the capabilities or would like to arrange a demo of the Rave Platform in action, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of Higher Ed safety experts will be happy to tailor a demo to your specific requirements.
Terri Mock is Rave's Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, overseeing strategy, product, and marketing. She is an executive leader with achievements in delivering revenue growth, driving go-to-market, innovating products, and scaling operations from high-tech startups to global companies.
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