This summer, Blackboard released the new Blackboard Instructor mobile app, which enables you to stay connected to the courses you are teaching on the go, from any Apple or Android mobile device. With the Blackboard Instructor app, you can view course content, connect with students in discussions, and interact with your class in Blackboard Collaborate.
At the same time, Blackboard renamed the previous Bb Student app to “Blackboard App”, so that it is easier for students to find in their mobile app stores. You can provide a link to information on the Blackboard App in your course to encourage students to use the Blackboard App to access course content, engage with peers and teachers through the discussion board or Blackboard Collaborate, stay informed with course announcements, and prioritize their work by tracking their progress and upcoming deadlines.
Blackboard Instructor Features
Navigation – Blackboard Instructor categorizes and groups the most relevant features in one place, for quick and easy access to courses and content
Course Management – View a list of all courses for available terms and get a summary of each course, including upcoming assignments, announcements, discussions, and more
Content and Assessment Preview – Review course content and assessments on mobile to ensure content is accurate and mobile-friendly. Note that you cannot create or post content from the mobile app at this time
Discussions – Participate in discussions from anywhere via a mobile device, including viewing, creating, and editing discussion board threads and replies. Note that you cannot create a discussion board from the mobile app at this time; you can only participate in discussion boards that already exist by posting threads or replies
Announcements – Create, review, and send out announcements to students. Students who use the Blackboard app will be alerted with a notification in the Activity Stream when you post an announcement, from either the app or from a browser
Collaborate – Engage in real-time video conferencing to collaborate with video, voice, files, chat, and interactive whiteboard
Give it a try! Blackboard Instructor is available for free on Apple and Android phones and tablets. With exciting new features in development for grading, messaging, or taking attendance, the Blackboard Instructor app is undoubtedly going to be an important part of your mobile toolkit for teaching!
NIU has released its first campus-wide mobile app, NIU Mobile for Apple (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), Blackberry, Android, and webOS devices.
The app connects students and faculty to NIU resources on-the-go, including the campus directory and calendar as well as athletics schedules and scores. Campus maps can help new students find their way around campus, and Emergency Information is easy to access. There is even a portal to search the library catalog.
NIU Mobile also includes access to Blackboard Mobile Learn, so students can access course materials, post to the discussion board, and check their grades from anywhere. Faculty can also post announcements from the app.
This video provides a demonstration of the NIU Mobile app and highlights its most exciting features. However, Mobile Learning encompasses more than checking grades from a phone or posting announcements while traveling.
What is Mobile Learning?
There are many definitions of mobile or m-learning, ranging from simple definitions such as â€œe-learning through mobile computational devicesâ€ (Quinn, 2000, para. 1) to complex theoretical definitions of mobile learning as a function of its facets (Laouris & Eteokleous, 2005, para. 15). However, across all definitions there are several common themes:
Learning occurs outside of the classroom. Students learn from wherever they are, or from contextually-relevant locations (like museums or landmarks)
Learning occurs at any time
Learning is facilitated by a mobile device, which can include smartphones (like an iPhone or Android device), cell phones (without web browsing capabilities), tablets (mobile devices with larger screens, like an iPad), and even laptop computers
It is important to note that mobile devices are often viewed as the driving force for mobile learning, but that is not necessarily the case. Mobile Learning is really about new ways to access content and engage with students, as well as innovative methods to analyze information and create media.
Why does Mobile Learning matter?
Internet-capable mobile devices are becoming more prevalent, and new devices like tablets are expanding the possibilities for portable devices. In fact, by the year 2015, it is estimated that 80% of all Internet usage will be done from mobile devices (Ericsson, 2010, para. 5). Mobile devices can be used to access information, communicate with others, compose text, and create media.
Mobile learning can be more engaging for students because it accommodates multiple learning styles, particularly the auditory and kinesthetic styles. Because students are not tied to a classroom, mobile learning can be used to augment real-world experiences, like gathering data, making observations, or conducting interviews.
Convenience is also a factor in mobile learning. Students can access materials at any time and from anywhere, which makes learning accessible to students who might otherwise struggle with courses. Also, high-speed mobile Internet is available in locations where traditional high-speed connections have not yet reached. Pilots of mobile learning initiatives have been conducted with students in remote locations and in developing nations, where mobile technology exists but hard-wired infrastructure is not available (Parker, 2011).
What qualifies as a mobile device?
Mobile learning naturally brings smartphones to mind, like the iPhone or an Android-powered phone. These devices have vast capabilities, including accessing Internet content, running a continually growing selection of programs called apps, and creating and editing media like photos, audio, and video. These devices generally have GPS features for location-specific content.
Tablets, like the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the Motorola Xoom, are more like keyboard-less laptops. They run apps similar to smartphones, but have larger screens and more processing capabilities. Laptops are also considered mobile devices, since students can utilize them from anywhere, although they are certainly less mobile than smaller devices.
However, these high-end devices are not the only options for mobile learning. While many students do not have smartphones, most do have cellphones. In fact, 93% of adults age 18-29 use a cellphone (Voxy, 2011). Most modern cellphones have capabilities that can be used for mobile learning, like text messaging and cameras.
What activities/techniques are possible?
What is it?
How can it be used in the classroom?
Text messaging (SMS)
Short text-based messages of 160 characters or less
Most modern cellphones are equipped with cameras for photo or video, some high resolution (5-9 megapixels)
Smartphones can run apps for photo and video editing
Students can document locations or events by taking photos with their phones
Students can record presentations as practice or post short videos for classmates to review
eBooks can be read and annotated on mobile devices or dedicated readers (e.g. Kindle, Nook, etc.) as well as desktop computers
eBooks can include videos and other interactive media that print textbooks cannot
Faculty can select textbooks that are available both in print and electronically so students can choose
Faculty can create eBooks instead of PDF files for course documents
Quick Response (QR) codes
Created using free services, saved as images
Can direct to a website, display a short message
Displayed on posters, cards, t-shirts, etc.
Scanned using free apps
QR codes can be used for a scavenger hunt, where each code provides a clue to the location of the next code
QR codes can be shorthand to direct students to important resources or detailed information
Wide variety of available apps with educational uses
Use for classroom activities or as optional study aides
A limited list of potential apps (all free and available for multiple devices):
Evernote: synchronize notes across devices and desktop
i-nigma: a simple QR reader
foursquare/gowalla/scvngr: location-based apps that can be used for scavenger hunts
Dropbox: synchronize files between desktop, mobile, and web
The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is now offering a Mobile Learning Series of workshops. The series began with Learning On the Go: Introduction to Mobile Learning. The presentation from that workshop is available at http://prezi.com/1bxnml5lyi9p/learning-on-the-go/. The series continues with Quick Response (QR) Codes on October 27, 2011 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am and Text Messaging in Teaching on November 17, 2011. Each workshop is independent of the others, so sign up for all or just one! Plus, look for more topics coming in future schedules, including creating and using eBooks, location-based learning, podcasting, mobile media, and more.
Six months after the initial release of the Blackboard Mobile Learn app, Blackboard is launching Blackboard Mobile Learn 2.0, a release on Android and iOS that enables students and faculty for the first time to create and upload content to their courses â€” including videos, photos, and other non-media files â€” rather than just consuming content. This release also features a newly redesigned user interface to support threaded discussions and the ability for students and faculty to mark courses as “favorites” so they can more easily manage, search and filter the courses they access most frequently.
What's New in This Release?
Discussions now sport a threaded user interface for easy reading
Mark courses as "favorites" to manage, search, and filter frequently used courses
Upload course content from virtually anywhere
Blackboard Mobile Learn is now available for Palm® webOS™ devices
Blackboard Mobile Learn takes interactive teaching and learning to the mobile device, giving students and teachers instant access to their courses, content and communities anywhere.
Blackboard Mobile Learn is available now on all major smartphone platforms (Android, Blackberry, and iOS) and works across all carriers. It may be downloaded now from the Android Market, Blackberry App World and the iTunes App Store.
What CAN you do with Mobile Learn?
Review/post Discussions Threads
Access documents uploaded by the instructor
Access music, video and images uploaded by the instructor