The summer brought a number of changes to the learning technologies used in the University and one in particular I wanted to highlight here is the new Blackboard Student Mobile App available for iOS, Android and Windows mobiles and tablets.
It is radically different to the previous app (Mobile Learn) having had a complete redesign. Here is a run down of what to expect in the new app:
Students can choose to receive a notification when new content is added to their courses. Specific ones they wish to receive is controlled via the desktop version whilst on/off choice is set via the device.
Many formats are now supported natively including most types of image, audio (MP3) and video (MP4). PDFs, websites and ‘mashups’ are also able to be opened within the app. Additionally to this, it will look for the appropriate app on the device to open Word, Excel, PowerPoint or similar file attachments.
Tests created using the Mobile Compatible Tests tool work really well and are easy to work through whilst Discussion Forums are clean and simple to use.
Blackboard Assignment submission is incorporated into the app as it is compatible with Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive to access documents and materials that students have produced.
A separate app is no longer required to use Collaborate as it has been built in to the single app – great news for users of webinars and online lectures!
Grades and Feedback
If work has been submited via the Blackboard Assignment tool, grades and feedback can be obtained via the ‘Marks‘ area in the app where a break down of individual assignments can be found. Be aware though, if using Turnitin for submissions only grades that are fed through to the Grade Centre can be viewed via the app (no feedback is included).
Currently unavailable or unsupported
As the app is still a fairly new version there are a number of areas that are yet to be developed and you may find this renders it unsuitable for your use:
Turnitin is not yet integrated into the app and as such submissions are unable to be made and due dates and feedback can’t be displayed.
Groups are currently not supported as are any tools within a group (such as a group discussion board or wiki) although thanks to the new responsive design implementation over summer these tools will open reasonably well in a web browser.
Blogs, Journals and Wikis are also not currently supported and these will open in a web browser if clicked on from within the app but it is hoped that these will be supported soon.
Standard Tests cannot be taken through the app.
If you would like any further guidance or advice in using the new app please feel free to contact the Learning Technology Development Team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Blackboard Mobile Learn has now been removed from the app stores and is no longer supported by Blackboard. If a student uninstalls the old app they will no longer be able to reinstall it.
If you are a tutor you may find the following PowerPoint slides useful to show to other members of staff or your own students.
There is also an ‘Instructor‘ app available that can be used by tutors to build certain content and can be used in delivering materials such as webinars and online lectures.