Attached is some information about various systems. Blackboard does have a notification module beyond email.
The students can opt-in and fill out the information that they'd like to receive through Blackboard. The notifications can be set up for automatic notification. I do not have access to Blackboard but I did build a sample site on Coursesites to test what UML might have available per George's suggestions. From there, I found that we can enable Dashboard (default), Email, SMS and Text to Voice. There is a Mobile option, but I can't confirm just yet that we have the Mobile option enabled.
Students can utilize Blackboard Learn to notify them when these events occur:
Announcements are available
Assignments are available
Assignments are due or past due
Content is available
Course or organization is available
Course message received
Item is due
Item is graded
Survey is available
Survey is due or past due
Test is available
Test is due or past due
You have unread blogs, journals, and discussions
Here is the general information from Blackboard about notifications
Notifications Training/How To Instructions for Blackboard to share with staff:
I did find another app/desktop application that professors could use if they choose not to use Blackboard. It's called Remind. I have found a few communication tools for professors to reach out to students/parents. (most seem to be targeted to parents, but this one that I found seems to be more student-oriented). They are doing some work with Cambridge University for communication (which I found through a press announcement). Remind allows professors to set up reminders in real-time and in advance, can enable 1- or 2-way communication, and even setup events for students to RSVP through their phone. There is a chance for students to add the events/announcements to their calendars. If students miss reminders (signing up too late), it lets them know and encourages them to get the app (which they don't have to do). Also, since we have the privacy issues to consider, this does not include grading or personal contact info. According to their site, they have iKeepSafe certification, meeting the guidelines for FERPA, COPPA, and the California Student Privacy program. Students' and professors' phone numbers are not given out and cannot be seen. An alternate number is used for the communication.
For professors that need us to do library/learning specific announcements, the staff can be added as a co-teacher and can send announcements with attachments.
It looks like 82 people associated with UML already have signed up for this. When I associated with UML, it showed a link to 82 others.
There are multiple ways for students to opt-in, including printable pdfs, in-person instructions for text, and sharing a link, so I think that it would be easy enough for a professor to introduce on the first day of class and as part of the syllabus. Another bonus is that it's 100% free.
I think might be a good starting point to roll things out, especially with allowing the library to be a co-teacher to share information about doing research, accessing databases, linking info to Libguides, and also things like doing a bibliography.
I apologize for the lengthy descriptions but I wanted to let you know what I had found and recommended.
FYI - I have discovered that the University uses the Rave Alert system for their SMS notifications and I have a call into Rick Wood of the Emergency Management Office here to find out more details. Once I hear back I will be in touch with you.