Alert Solutions Blog

Common Core Mobile Apps: What School Administrators Should Consider

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

Common Core standards have been overwhelming the education world and sending school administrators and teachers through the difficult process of integrating these changes into their K-12 schools. 

The use of mobile technology in K-12 classrooms has been growing; however the number of mobile apps available to school administrators and teachers has also grown exponentially.  This includes the number of mobile apps available to help with the transition to Common Core standards.parentstexting

This leaves school administrators with a few questions: What Common Core mobile apps should our K-12 school use?  What mobile apps will best help us make this transition?

First of all, school administrators need to determine their learning strategy.  School administrators should also consider how it can be assessed with Common Core standard skills of communication, critical thinking and collaboration before adopting any Common Core mobile apps

A recent District Administration article also recommends school administrators assess the Common Core mobile apps and ensure they meet the following criteria:

  • Allow teachers to modify content to meet the students’ needs
  • Accommodate different learning styles, particularly for students with disabilities
  • Include a built-in assessment component to measure progress
  • Promote inventiveness by giving students a chance to create within the app
  • Simulate real-life situations in which students can apply the new Common Core concepts

Read more blog posts related to mobile learning here.

Topics: mobile learning, education

Property Management Tips: Bridging the Generation Gap to Attract More Tenants

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

In a recent blog post we discussed the must-haves of millennial renters property managers should be aware of.  Although the millennial generation is a large portion of today’s renter, there is another group also making a large impact: the baby boomers.

Both of these generations are important to satisfy as property managers and, many times, this must be done simultaneously.  But how do you create unified tenant satisfaction between two groups that largely differ from one another?

This can be very difficult to do. However, property managers must find a way to blend the must-haves of both generations together.  Many amenities are must-haves for both groups, but are utilized in different ways.    

For example, both the millennial generation and the baby boomers typically find interest in a common area or clubroom. 

The millennial generation finds this area as a positive attribute, but is most interested in attending events being held.  Baby boomers also find the inclusion of a clubroom or common area in their rental property as a must-have, but would like to use this space to host social gatherings or club meetings.   This could be a great opportunity for property managers to meld both sides together and create a uniform tenant satisfaction.

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Other must-haves may be included, but are only there to satisfy one group or the other, which is also a viable route so long as the amenity does not subtract interest for either side. 

For example, finishes in a rental unit. 

Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are a must-have for many baby boomers but not for the millennial generation, who overlooks these details.  As a wow factor for baby boomer, property managers should consider these factors in their design.  Although it may not gain any greater interest from the millennial generation, it will not deter them from their decision and will increase interest from the baby boomers.

By taking the must-haves of both millennial and baby boomer generations into consideration, property managers can increase their revenue through the interest gained from this large percentage of today’s renters.

What must-haves do you include in your rental community to attract the millennial and baby boomer generation renters?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

Read more blogs focused on property management here.

Topics: property management, tenant satisfaction

E-Rate and ConnectEd Initiative Helps Improve Technology Access in K-12 Schools

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

Technology has become an integral part of everyday life, which has made it necessary for K-12 school districts to try and improve technology efforts and connectivity in their classrooms.  This is the basis for the federal initiative to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices and the revamping of the program that provides discount internet access to K-12 school districts.

The E-rate program, whose modernization is set to be completed by the Federal Communications Commission this fall, will help give all K-12 schools high-speed internet access.  This will shift funding from old technologies, such as pagers, to broadband and Wi-Fi networks in order to eventually reach a goal of 99 percent of America’s students having access to high-speed Internet connections within five years.

The E-rate program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and connects schools and libraries to the internet at a discount of 20-90 percent. Today, more than 95 percent of schools are connected with the help of these funds, up from only 14 percent in 1996, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Greater access to technology and high-speed internet is also the main goal of President Barack Obama’s new ConnectED initiative.

According to a recent District Administration article, the four goals of the ConnectEd Initiative include:technologyinschool

  1. Upgraded connectivity: Ensuring broadband and high-speed Wi-Fi are available to virtually all U.S. students in their classrooms and libraries.
  2. Access to learning devices: Providing students and teachers with access to affordable mobile devices to access digital resources at any time in or out of school.
  3. Supported teachers: Offering professional development to help teachers use technology properly and efficiently to increase student achievement.
  4. Digital learning resources: Ensuring access to high-quality digital learning materials for students and teachers.

This uniform access to technology in all K-12 school districts will help close learning gaps and improve communication.  K-12 schools will be able to implement more blended learning programs, create more personalized learning efforts and affordably connect through modern communication channels.

Learn more about how Alert Solutions’ Communication Suite can improve communication in your school, download our brochure.

Topics: educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

Making Content Marketing Work for the Millennial Generation - 5 Tactics

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

Content marketing campaigns have become a well-utilized tool by businesses today.  Most individuals appreciate the information provided and embrace it. However, it hasn’t been as easy to win over the millennial generation. 

A recent study conducted by DigitasLBi, Razorfish, Tumblr, and Yahoo shows 45% of Millennials are not interested in the content businesses are providing through their content marketing campaigns.  This presents an issue for businesses as the study explains Millennials will command a cumulative $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020.

How can businesses hurdle the obstacle of a disengaged generation?  Simple – engage with them on their terms with content that interests them.  This generation looks for information through multiple channels and utilizes, on average, 7.1 devices to receive this information.  Businesses need to ensure they are reaching and engaging Millennials through all of their preferred communication channels, such as SMS text messaging and social media.

MultiChannelMessagignINtegration-1

Effective content marketing campaigns are essential to a business’ marketing success, but the strategy behind it must change to fit the millennial generation.  Five tactics to achieve effective content marketing, mentioned in a recent Direct Marketing News article, include:


  • Set the Mood
  • Help Millennials Escape
  • Fuel Creativity and Play
  • Spotlight Pop Culture
  • Help Millennials Succeed and Help them Discover

By following these tactics, engaging Millennial through their preferred communication channels and providing interesting content, businesses can create successful content marketing campaigns and turn the millennial generation into loyal and powerful brand advocates.

For list segmentation and audience targeting tips and tricks, download our best practice kit today.

Topics: personalization, list segmentation, content marketing

Increase Medication Adherence in Your Medical Practice: A “SIMPLE” Strategy

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 03, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

The problem of poor medicaltion adherence is a well-recognized problem in the healthcare industry. Studies have shown that in the United States alone, poor medication adherence causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10% to 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions. This makes non-adherence to medications not only dangerous for patients, but also only of the most costly factors for the healthcare industry.

A Medscape article provides a strategy to deal with the issue of medication adherence using the acronym “SIMPLE” which breaks down into:

  • “S” Simplifying Regimen Characteristics: 

Many medical offices already implement this strategy.  By simplifying a medication regimen or matching the medication regimen to the patient's activities of daily living, you can lessen the chance ofmedicationadherance medication non-adherence.

  • “I” Imparting Appropriate Knowledge

Patients' understanding of their conditions and treatments is positively related to medication adherence. Medication adherence, satisfaction, recall and understanding are all related to the amount and type of information given by medical offices.  Studies have shown that patients who understand the purpose of the prescription are twice more likely to fill it than those who do not understand the purpose.

  • “M” Modifying Beliefs and Human Behavior

Some diagnoses and medical regimens are complex and require lifestyle modification.  When this is the case it is worthwhile to address patients' beliefs, intentions, and ability to perform the actions required. This is because knowledge alone is not sufficient to enhance medication adherence in recommendations involving complex behavior change.

  • “P” Patient Communication

Patient communication encompasses interventions ranging from sending voice, email or SMS text reminders, to involving patients' families in the dialogue. At least 50% of patients leave their medical offices not knowing what they have been told.  This is an imperative part of improving medication adherence.  Medical offices need to be communicating with patients from the time the appointment is made throughout the post-appointment follow-up.

  • “L” Leaving the Bias

In a review of 185 studies, no clear relationship between medication adherence and race, sex, educational experience, intelligence, marital status, occupational status, income, and ethnic or cultural background was found.  It is important for medical offices to understand that medical adherence can be an issue for anyone and focus their efforts on ensuring all patients are adhering to medications.

  • “E” Evaluating Adherence

It is imperative to measure and evaluate patient medication adherence in order to correct issues in adherence that are found.  Self-reporting is the most practical and widely used tool. If asked simply and directly, patients can be very accurate in reporting whether they are adhering to their medications. Regular assessment of patient adherence by itself can lead to increased patient adherence.

Implementing a patient communication solution, such as Alert Solutions’ Patient Communication Suite can help provide greater patient communication, increasing the likelihood of medication adherence.  By providing notifications, such as automated refill reminders and wellness reminders via patients preferred communication channels, medical offices can reduce medical non-adherence and increase their bottom line.

Learn how you can maximize patient communication through automated notifications and improve medical adherence in your medical practice today!

Topics: automated patient notifications, Medical, patient communication, medical adherence

K-12 Schools Go Green and Find Uses for School Lunch Waste

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 01, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

The addition of more fruits and vegetables into K-12 school lunches has been a struggle, especially in regards to the new USDA guidelines.  Many of the fruits and vegetables that students are required to take end up half eaten or not eaten at all.

Some schools find a way to go green and environmentally use the waste created by school lunches.  These schools place a separate trash bin in lunch rooms for food waste specifically.  These scraps are sent to a compost heap where they are churned into nutrient-enriched dirt that farmers or landscape architects can buy.

schoollunchAlthough most of the participating schools exist on the west coast or in the Midwest, more schools across the United States are catching on.  For example, PS 30 in Staten Island, NY has begun to embrace composting in their school.  At P.S. 30, students done with their school lunch have a choice of three plastic bins: one for landfill garbage like plastic bags, foam cups and wrappers; one for recyclables, like metal, glass, plastic and milk cartons; and one for food scraps.

Since students must take these items, but the school district cannot force them to eat the food, an environmentally-friendly solution seemed like the way to go.  In a recent article, Joseph Napolitano, P.S. 30’s assistant principal said, “It’s really being recycled whether they eat it or not; it’s not really a waste.”

Although not all students follow the directions and throw items away in the trash bins, there are a “green team” of students who carefully pick out unwanted junk, while wearing latex gloves.  Even with less than a quarter of school buildings participating, the weight of all discarded scraps came to 1,400 tons between September and March, compared with 450 tons during the entire 2012-13 school year.

The New York City school composting program kicked off just two years ago in 230 school buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island and is expected to at least double in the fall.  The city is hoping this will encompass 1,300-plus school buildings.

To view the full article click here.

To read more about “going green” in your school check out more blog posts.

Topics: environment, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

Lease Renewals: How to Win the Tenant Retention Chess Match

Posted by Nina Russo on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 13:06 PM

Lease renewal time can be very stressful for property managers and landlords.  As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, tenant retention is extremely important since it is much less expensive to keep a current tenant than find a new one.

Although things like lease renewals or rent increases are just part of doing business for property managers and landlords, it is important for them to remember that to the tenant it’s personal.  By putting themselves in their tenants’ shoes, property managers and landlords can focus on what is really important to the tenant and be strategic in planning for lease renewals.

A recent Property Management Insider article compares the lease renewal process to a chess match with the following “moves”:

propertymanagement

Move #1

Affirmation Brings Loyalty:  Property managers and landlords should think of themselves as customer service representatives.  We are all familiar with brand loyalty and how important it is for many retailers; the same goes for property managers and landlords.  When speaking to a customer service representatve about an issue, the call will most likely end with the question of whether everything you need has been taken care of or not.  Property managers and landlords should be doing the same thing.  By asking this question, property managers and landlords are breeding loyalty and affirmation.  This tactic can be used, for example, after a service request has been addressed.  By completing the task and affirming that all of the concerns have been addressed, placing themselves in a positive light in their tenant’s mind when lease renewal time comes.

Move #2

Confidence is Key: In order to obtain the lease renewal, property managers and landlords need confidence.  They must believe that they will receive the renewal because they have given no reason for their tenant not to renew.  Many times, property managers and landlords think a tenant is not going to renew because of an annual rent increase. However, according to the 2014 SatisFacts Index for Annual Surveys, when asked, “What can be done to improve the community?” zero percent of respondents selected “lower rent.”  Property managers and landlords should focus on more proactive concerns such as more timely responses, improved  tenant communication and increased customer service levels.

By thinking ahead to your tenants’ responses to lease renewals property managers and landlords can come up with a proactive and strategic plan to ensure their tenant stays onboard and claiming their “win” in the tenant retention chess match.

View more posts relating to tenant retention.

Topics: property management, tenant retention

K-12 School Districts Require Clear Backpacks to Enhance School Safety

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

Due to the occurrence of tragic events, such as school shootings and stabbings, school safety has become an even greater concern for K-12 school districts.  From metal detectors to bulletproof whiteboards, some schools have been taking drastic measures to try and ensure the safety of their students.

One smaller solution for many K-12 school districts, however, has been the banning of traditional backpacks.  In place of traditional backpacks, school districts are requiring students use clear or mesh backpacks.  This is in hopes that the more transparent bags will deter students from bringing violent weapons onto school grounds and make it easier for students and faculty to spot potentially harmful items.

Although these backpacks cannot completely prevent school violence from occurring or keep students from carrying weapons, K-12 school districts utilizing this method in their school safety and emergency preparedness plans feel it is a step in the right direction.  Some school districts requiring the change from traditional backpacks include:clearbackpack

  • North East ISD in San Antonio, Texas
  • Dallas ISD in Texas
  • Chicago Public Schools in Illinois

Although taking steps to enhance school safety is important, K-12 school administrators should also ensure their school has an emergency preparedness plan.  By creating an emergency preparedness plan, school districts can outline school safety guidelines and precautions, as well as organizing a plan in case an emergency situation should occur.

How do you feel about the requirement of clear backpacks in K-12 schools?  Share your thoughts on our blog.

For tips on creating an emergency preparedness plan in your schools download our guide.

Topics: school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education

3 Ways to Keep Email Marketing an Effective Communication Method

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 @ 11:06 AM

As we go through our daily routine, many technologies have made their way into our social lives.  Social media, SMS text messaging, etc. are constantly used as a communication tool - but what about email messaging?

Although email messaging may not be our first choice in communication with friends and family anymore, it is still a huge part of most people’s day-to-day lives.  Email messages are constantly making their way into our inboxes, and even though they may not be messages with Aunt Sue about how great dinner was on Sunday, we are still having multiple conversations through email messaging with other businesses.

Businesses have continued to use email marketing as a main source of communication with their customers.  Sometimes, we may not even notice an email due to its lack of interest to us, but there are still email messages that grab our attention.  These email messages are why email marketing is still effective in today’s world.

According to a recent Direct Marketing News article,  a 2013 study from predictive analytics firm Custora shows that customer acquisition through email had more than quadrupled in just four years and accounted for nearly 7% of customer acquisitions.

Here are 3 ways to utilize email marketing effectively and keep your email messages compelling to customers:

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  1. The Abandoned Cart Email:  Have you ever done online shopping and exited from your shopping cart without making a purchase?  This email marketing technique is useful to remind customers that they had prior interest in your product or service.  By sending an email message acknowledging their interest, even an “abandoned cart” may get a second look and a potential purchase.  This also works for non-retail businesses.  Did someone show interest in your service by downloading a brochure or speaking to a representative?  Send a follow-up email to remind them of their interest and what great things your product or service has to offer.
  2. The Apologetic Email:  Most businesses will hit a bump in the road at some point, so why not admit when you are wrong?  Did your service have a blackout?  Did your shipping warehouse experience delays?  These things happen!  By sending your customers an email message acknowledging the issue, apologizing and taking action you can be proactive and most customers will respect the effort.
  3. The Reward Email:  Customer appreciation is important.  Many businesses offer rewards to their loyal customers, so why not let them know about it?  Some customers may not be aware of an incentive being offered, but a simple email marketing message with an eye catching subject line can grab their attention and inform them and, in the future, may keep your email marketing messages noticed in your customers’ inboxes due to the positive connotation.

How do you use email marketing in your business?  Do you feel it is still an effective form of communication?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

View more blog posts on email marketing here.

Topics: email marketing, email marketing best practices

K-12 Schools Revitalize Report Cards to Enhance Parent Engagement

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 @ 13:06 PM

It’s the time of year when parents are beginning to receive report cards.  Opening up an envelope to find a paper with A, B, Cs and a few comments pasted across them is what traditional report card expectations entail – but what if that’s not enough anymore?

Parent engagement and parent communication is a crucial part of the K-12 school system.  Especially with the rising demands of state testing and new curriculum requirements, it is more important than ever that parents remain informed of their children’s progress in school, where they excel and areas where they need extra help.

ReportCardThese are just a few reasons why some K-12 schools are breaking away from the traditional quarterly report cards and implementing a more engaging and informative method.  For example, Georges Vanier Elementary School in Surrey, British Columbia began a pilot program to make communication between parents and teachers more detailed, frequent and collaborative.

The school sends messages to parents at least once a week through parent-preferred communication methods such as email and SMS text messaging.  These messages include items such as videos of a school project or a photo of their student’s journal entry, providing real-time insight into a student’s learning and progress.

Since the updates are more frequent and detailed than the average five or ten week progress report, a parent can view both their child’s highs and lows, eliminating the surprises that may come with more traditional report cards.  Although the school still distributes traditional report cards quarterly as well, they are hoping to move away from traditional report cards all together in the future.

This more cumulative and engaging method of progress reporting includes more than just test scores.  This allows the progress to be viewed and the grade to be compiled throughout the  learning process.  Through K-12 school notifications and technology, the report card procress is being redefined and invigorated, creating a greater environment for parent engagement and greater parent communication.

Do you feel like K-12 schools should revamp traditional report cards?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

Are you a PowerSchool user? Download our brochure to learn how our Automated Reports Module can help streamline report card distribution at your school.

Topics: report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement

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