Introduction to Blackboard’s Mobile App

Blackboard has recently updated the features and functionality of its mobile app. Now all users (instructors and students) that want to access Blackboard course tools from their smartphone or tablet can purchase the app through the Apple or Google app stores.

Anyone with access to an Internet browser on their mobile device can still navigate directly to http://online.lasalle.edu and log in with their portal credentials to access Blackboard on the go without paying for the mobile app. But there are a few advantages to purchasing the app, especially for those that rely heavily on their mobile devices to stay connected.

In this post, we’ll go over some of the key features of the new Blackboard mobile app to give you a sense of why this might be a useful tool for you and your students. As of the start of the Fall 2012 semester, 373 La Salle users have already accessed Blackboard using the mobile app, so your students may already be using it!

Useful Features for Instructors

Send Announcements
Running late to class? Did you think of an important reminder for your students while waiting in line at the grocery store? You can quickly and easily send announcements to your students while on the go using the mobile app.

Any announcements that you create using the app will also be posted in the Announcements area in your Blackboard course, just like you had posted it from your Internet browser. Though, you cannot set the announcement to also be sent by email when it is created through the app.

 

 

Use the Mobile App for Short Quizzes or Check-Ins
The app allows students to take certain types of tests or quizzes (such as untimed, multiple choice tests) from their mobile devices. This allows you design short quizzes or polls that students can take in class.

For example, you can find out what your students know about an upcoming topic, their understanding of the reading, or whether they were able to get the main takeaways from your class session. Students that have the app can complete this in class from their devices (which makes the app work like an Audience Response System). Students that don’t have the app can take the quizzes later from their laptops or a lab computer. You will have to create these quizzes from within your Internet browser (you cannot create tests from within the app). Click the “Mobile Compatible Test” option under the Assessments button in Blackboard to begin creating quizzes that can be taken on mobile devices.

If you want to discourage your students from taking longer tests using the app, this may be something that you include as part of the test instructions.

Participate in Course Discussions, Blogs, and Journals
The app makes it is easy to view discussion threads, blog posts, and journal posts on your device so you can stay current with the conversations that are going on in your courses. It is also easy to create new posts, replies, and comments using the app so that you can contribute to the conversations wherever you are.

Do you see a bus ad that would be ideal for this week’s marketing discussion? Did you find an example of a rare plant that would be great to share as part of this week’s life sciences unit? The app makes it easy to upload photos and videos from your smartphone or tablet directly to your course communication tools.

 

Useful Features for Students

Stay Up-To-Date with Course Notifications and the Dashboard
The mobile app will send a Notification to users’ mobile devices when important updates have been made to their courses, such as when:

  • New course announcements have been posted
  • New content, assignments, or tests have been posted
  • A student’s grade has been posted to the My Grades area
  • An assignment or test is due or past due

While this feature is likely to be most helpful for your students, it does give you another way to make sure that students are aware of the latest assignments and information. Though, students can choose to turn off notifications that they do not want.

Similarly, the Dashboard lists all of the content and announcements that have been posted to users’ courses organized by date, type, or class, depending on how the user chooses to display this information. This is also a great tool for students to check in with what’s new in their courses.

Participate in Course Discussions, Blogs and Journals
Students can also view and participate in discussion threads, blog posts, and journal posts using the mobile app. If many of your students have the app, perhaps you can identify good opportunities for students to share their photos and videos from field-based work or observations as part of your course!

View Grades and Assignments
Students can quickly and easily view their grades using the app. Students can also review instructions for Blackboard assignments, but it does not allow them to submit assignments using the app.

Play Audio and Video Content
Students can play the audio or video files that you upload to the course on their mobile devices, depending on the file format you use, with mp4 and mp3 files likely to work best. (We’ll address how to build your course content and media for mobile access in a future post!)

Resources for More Information

As of the date of this posting, the app costs $1.99/year or $5.99 for unlimited access. Do you want to learn more about the app? Click on the app store for your device:

You can also visit Blackboard’s Mobile Learn website.

If you want to discuss possible uses of the app or course design implications, contact Jessica or Sherri.

Published by Jessica Morris

An instructional designer building this site.

3 replies on “Introduction to Blackboard’s Mobile App”

  1. It is good that BB has opened this app to all carriers. However, paying for something we get for “free” (albeit with the support of La Salle IT) is a turn-off. I’d like the features, but unless La Salle has a licence for Blackboard Mobile Learn, I probably won’t use it.

  2. Hi Mike, I understand your point, especially if it’s just as easy for you to access Blackboard from your computer or a mobile browser. But we do expect that some students will take advantage of this tool, so we wanted to share a little bit about what it can (and cannot do).

    Thanks for posting to the blog!

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