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Bryony Bramer (VLE Manager here at Regent’s College) did an excellent TOTT session on ‘Getting started with Blackboard Mobile’.

Bryony’s starting point was to look at who is accessing Blackboard from different browsers and this obviously gives us an indication of what type of device our students and lecturers are using. The crucial figures are that from September 2012 to February 2013 we had over 195,000 visits from a Safari browsers compared to about 93,000 from Internet Explorer (see the Powerpoint sides for exact figures and other browsers). Obviously indicating that the vast majority of these users were using iPad and iPhone devices. Even with our relatively small student population over 2000 students have downloaded the Blackboard app, so clearly it is very popular with the students.

Blackboard Mobile has been specifically designed for personal mobile devices. It interface has a very different look and feel compared to the desktop version. It looks very similar to the design of the iPhone, so for example the discussion boards look very similar to the text message design you would get on the iPhone. It also has the additional features of identifying certain course as ‘favourites’ and the ability to ‘dock’ documents on the edge of the screen (a usefull feature when working on several documents at the same time).

Next Bryony gave a demonstration (using the visualizer) of how certain features looked in the Mobile App. Starting with how Announcements looked. This could be really useful for the lecturer if they quickly want to contact their students. We then briefly looked at various learning materials, Word document‘s PDF’s, videos and audio recording. However the most interactive part of the app in relation to students learning are the discussion boards. Students and lecturers can add comments easily and most impressively, quickly upload photos from their phones. This will be great for capturing classroom activities, say for example drawings done on the whiteboard or flip-chart paper.

Lastly we looked very some tips on best practice for build Mobile friendly courses in Blackboard (this was based on a usful document produced by Blackboard themselves) Best Practices for building Mobile-Friendly Courses