Mobile Learn

By Marc Williams

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!

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2 responses to “Mobile Learn

  1. I understand that techonlogical advances will always be made as society progresses. I do like the upgrades made on blackboard. But, I suppose due to my age I have to ask a very serious question. Maybe the higher academics can answer this question: What happens if we lose the technology due to the lack of energy to keep it going? Will we have an age group in our society that cannot adapt? (At least not immediately.) I realize that something of this nature can possibility happen naturally or intently. (I pray that it doesn’t happen for any reason at all.) I see in some cases thorought different walks of life, that these advancements of technology see to be taken for granted and as such there seems to be too much of a dependency. I am just curious to see how a response would be to the immediate loss of these advancements.

  2. I’m certainly not an economist or energy expert so I can’t speak to the plausibility of this. But I understand the hypothetical situation.

    Hopefully, if education is working, people will still know how to think and solve problems regardless of their ability to use computers. In many cases (including the classroom), technology just offers a new way to interact with a problem. For example, the complex, often ambiguous issues we deal with in the BLS program aren’t made simpler by machines. The machines are just a new delivery system. If we lost that delivery system, I imagine we’d invent a new one.