On Monday, I wrote about the Blackboard upgrade at UNCG and some of the differences I’ve noticed so far. Perhaps my favorite new feature of UNCG’s version of Blackboard is its compatibility with Blackboard Mobile Learn.
We use our wireless devices for virtually every aspect of life nowadays so the developers at Blackboard wisely designed an app that gives students and instructors mobile access to Blackboard for a variety of devices (Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Palm). The app is free–I certainly recommend downloading and trying it out.
I’ve already found the tool useful for managing my courses on the go. I’ve been able to use the iPhone app to respond to student questions posted in threaded message boards found on Blackboard. And it is easy–the discussion boards look and feels like my iPhone’s text interface. In fact, message board discussions on the mobile app feel cleaner and more efficient than the discussion boards in the standard version of Blackboard. Blackboard apparently designed a mobile app for each individual device, working to embrace that particular device’s personality and functionality. In this regard, the Blackberry version of Mobile Learn doesn’t look or feel like the iPhone version–it is customized for Blackberry users. Here’s a video about the iPhone version, here’s a video about the Blackberry version, and finally an Android demo.
The app is apparently still in development and some of the tools and features of the standard version of Blackboard are not yet completely functional in the mobile version. For example, the “Grade Center” that instructors use to view grades and find assignments that need grading is not yet available on the mobile app. Some Blackboard content may need to be converted into different file types in order to work on the mobile app. For example, audio and video content need to be offered in universal formats like MP3 (audio) and MPEG-4 (video). As the mobile app develops and as instructors learn to make their content “mobile friendly,” our BLS classes may become not only virtual classrooms but also mobile classrooms!