Building a Mobile-Friendly Blackboard Course: Part 2

In the first part of this blog post, we looked at:

  • Questions to consider when designing your course to be mobile-friendly
  • Communicating your expectations related to mobile access to your students
  • Building and organizing your course content so that it can be accessed from Blackboard’s mobile app

In this post, we’ll review a few more strategies for making your course content accessible to students on their mobile devices.

Audio and Video Considerations
The best and most mobile-friendly way to share videos with your students is through YouTube. You can often find existing, relevant content on YouTube that you can link to. If you tend to create your own videos, you can also upload them to YouTube. It is possible to restrict who can see your content on YouTube, so you don’t have to worry about it being accessible to the general public. Click here to see how to upload and change permissions for YouTube videos.

Once your video is up on YouTube, share it so that it is accessible to students on Internet browsers and on mobile devices. The best way to share your video in Blackboard is to add it as a web link from the Build Content menu. Note that the title of your content item is a link that students can click on. If you are used to embedding videos for your students, you can still do that in the text box underneath the web link. Sherri shows you how to embed videos in this video.

Adding both a web link and an embedded copy of the video will allow for a good viewing experience no matter what browser or device your students use to access your course.

This YouTube video is added to Blackboard as a web link and is also embedded.
This is how the YouTube video will appear in the Blackboard Mobile App.

If you do not want to use YouTube to host your video or if you are sharing audio-only files, you can upload these files directly to Blackboard. Your audio files should be saved as mp3 files and video files should be saved as mp4 files. These file types are the most likely to work across different types of devices. If your video is in a different file format, you may want to convert it. You can use a tool like AnyVideoConverter, which is free software that can convert audio and video files to mp3s and mp4s.

Once you have the file in the correct format, you can upload it to Blackboard using the Build Content button by clicking either the Audio or Video link. You can then browse your computer to find and upload your audio or video file and submit it to the course. The file will then be playable from within your Blackboard course, the mobile app, or students can download it to their local machine.

How MP4s uploaded to Blackboard will appear to students using the mobile app.

As mentioned in a previous blog post introducing the Blackboard app, the app allows students to take some types of tests on their mobile devices. You can use this feature to set up some low-stakes practice quizzes that students can use for self-study or that you can use to measure their comprehension following a reading or class session.

You can create these quizzes from within your Internet browser (note that 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.

Mobile tests are best for short, low-stakes quizzes with multiple choice and true/false questions. The mobile app does not support open-ended questions, timed tests, tests with force completion, or randomized test items. Midterms, finals, essay tests, or other heavily weighted assessments are best completed from an Internet browser and from a stable Internet connection. You may want to discourage students from taking these types of tests from their mobile devices.

Dropbox Integration
Blackboard’s mobile app integrates Dropbox’s file storage service into various features. You can upload attachments to the blog, journal, and discussion tools from your Dropbox account if you have the Dropbox app on your mobile device. You can also save files that others upload to your Dropbox account to store and access them later. The mobile app allows students to easily add any files that you upload to Blackboard to their own Dropbox accounts if they have them.

While you and your students certainly do not need a Dropbox account or the Dropbox app to use Blackboard’s mobile app, you may find it helpful for storing files and uploading them on the go.

Example of a Mobile-Friendly Blackboard Course

If you would like to see examples of how mobile-friendly content and tools can be set up in a Blackboard course, email Jessica. I can enroll you in the Mobile-Friendly Demo course in Blackboard so that you can review various types of content using your Internet browser. If you have the app, you can explore the course on a mobile device as well.

Do you have possible uses for the mobile app to share or have you found other benefits to using the app? Email us or let us know in the blog comments!