The University is developing a new and improved approach to internal campus communications. Today@Brown is a new email digest delivered daily to all students, faculty and staff at Brown, with its pilot 1st Release on October 25, 2017.
Today@Brown contains many of the important community news messages that students, faculty and staff traditionally have received from various offices via email — University budget information, funding and fellowship opportunities, new initiatives, important deadlines, compliance and policy guidance, etc. It also replaces Morning Mail as a daily digest for announcements and events around the campus community.
The future vision for Today@Brown is to create a daily digest that allows greater personalization and choice for the information you feel is most useful for you. To build it, Brown is taking a phased approach that allows the entire campus community to help shape it.
The 1st Release of Today@Brown contains an initial set of features, while subsequent releases will add further improvements informed by campus feedback. Developing the digest in phases allows the University to learn what works and improve it in ways that best meet the needs of the community. It allows the entire campus to test new approaches and contribute to building a campus communications vehicle that is right for Brown.
1st Release of Today@Brown
The immediate goals of the 1st Release of Today@Brown are responsive to three common concerns that arose from surveys and conversations with students, faculty and staff:
- Begin to reduce the large number of emails that students, faculty and staff receive daily.
- Make it easier to find important, high-priority information that is essential to the work of a student, faculty or staff member.
- Introduce structure to the volume of information community members receive to make it easier to scan and digest.
The 1st Release includes an initial set of features responsive to these concerns. The features include:
Priority messages at the top of each daily digest
These important campus messages replace many of the emails traditionally sent by the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Office of the Dean of the College, Faculty Executive Committee, the Graduate School, Office of the Registrar, Staff Advisory Council and other offices that send important notices relating to operations and campus initiatives. Only designated offices are able to use the Priority label for messages.
Announcements segmented according to audience
The digest retains the segmentation of information built into the legacy Morning Mail system. There are 18 audience segments to allow individuals submitting announcements to select the appropriate audiences.
Events sorted in chronological order, listing time and location
The event listing shows events pertaining to the current day first, and lists all events by day and specific time in chronological order (the listing specifies which events are ongoing, such as exhibitions and trainings). Individuals who submit items via the submission form see date and time fields, as well as a field for location to allow that information to be displayed.
A brief description of announcements and events that accompany the title
A 100-character description sits with the associated title to add clarity and allow ease of scanning (not in a separate section as previously with Morning Mail).
A detail page for each announcement and event
Descriptions of items open into a new page that allows the space necessary to provide details about the announcement or event. Today@Brown removes the previous 500-word limit of Morning Mail, allows for a full description and also a link to more information (instead of requiring submitters to choose between the two), and introduces consistency in how information is presented.
Further improvements to come
A list of additional features already has been identified for future releases of Today@Brown (even as the 1st Release serves as a mechanism for gathering feedback for more improvements). Brown is planning to add the following features in subsequent releases:
- Greater segmentation of audience types for information that is more tailored to various groups
- Allowing recipients to opt in/out of certain message topics or types
- Integration of Today@Brown and the Events submission platform for brown.edu to create a single streamlined submission form
Features may be re-prioritized or new features introduced based on findings from the 1st Release and campus community feedback. We welcome your feedback about what’s working and what we should enhance for Today@Brown.
A submission form much like the form for submitting messages to Morning Mail allows members of the campus community to have their announcements and events appear in Today@Brown. Until the launch of the new daily digest Oct. 25, community members will continue to submit items at this link:
All events and announcements loaded into the Morning Mail form until the Oct. 25 launch of Today@Brown will automatically transfer to the new daily digest, so community members do not need to re-submit items.
The current Morning Mail submission form will redirect to the Today@Brown form beginning on launch day, and the first edition of Today@Brown will provide the new link for submitting items.
The Today@Brown form will include additional fields that allow information to appear in chronological order by date and time, and also to allow some offices to submit the “priority” items that need to reach large segments of the Brown community. This includes messages from the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Dean of the College, the Graduate School, Campus Life, the Registrar and other University offices that send communications that have an impact on large constituencies.
The entire campus has an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the daily digest and contribute to testing and building a campus communications tool that is right for Brown.