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!
Videos can be a great way to deliver a message to students in your online course, and it’s never been easier. Many of us carry our video cameras with us everywhere we go, after all. So let’s start with pulling out your smart phone, and follow these four easy steps.
1. Pick a Location: Find a location that is convenient or important to your message. You will want a nice background, with minimal clutter but more interesting than a blank wall. Try different locations around campus or your home. Even better, record video at conferences or while completing field research, so that the location is relevant to your content.
2. Plan Your Message: Think about what you are going to say. Are you welcoming your students to a new week? Do you want to remind them of a due date? Did something important come up in the news? You can write a script, if that helps you feel more comfortable, but it is generally better to sound casual and conversational as opposed to reading a very formal written script. Students appreciate when you sound approachable!
3. Record Your Video: After you have thought about what your message is, just start recording. You can have a colleague record you, prop up your phone on a bookcase or other handy furniture, or use a “selfie stick” and record on your own.
4. Edit and Publish: After you’ve recorded, upload the video to a video hosting site like YouTube (where you can keep the video Unlisted, if you want, so that you don’t accidentally become a viral video star). You can do that directly from your phone using the YouTube app. The video can then be edited and enhanced if you wish, and you should edit the captions to improve upon the often-glitchy auto-captions YouTube provides automatically. Then you can add it to your Blackboard course by using Video Everywhere to search videos in your YouTube channel, by posting the Share link, or by using the Embed code.
Unfortunately, if you ever used Video Everywhere to record from a webcam, it is no longer an option in Blackboard Learn. Google eliminated the ability to record from a webcam on YouTube, so it is no longer available in Blackboard, either. However, using your mobile device to record is easy and unchains you from having to record from your desktop or laptop computer.
Some benefits of capturing these quick and easy videos:
Convenient: Recording short video clips from your mobile device be done anywhere, anytime. All the equipment you need is in the palm of your hand. This method is great for when you are at a professional event and you want to share the experience with your students.
Connective: Videos are useful in helping students feel like there is a human being guiding their learning process in an online course. By creating on-the-go videos you will allow your students to see into your professional world and that world doesn’t revolve around a desk.
Contagious: Videos work for you and your students. Students can use videos to respond to discussions, as part of an assignment submission, or as a presentation tool.
Tips for communicating with your students with a video message:
Outline what you want to say, but keep it informal (It doesn’t have to be perfect)
Keep it short and to the point!
Take a few minutes to think about your location (lighting, background)
Save your video as Unlisted within YouTube and embed it in your Blackboard course to keep the message between you and your students
Use YouTube’s Manage subtitles and closed captions for accessibility and usability
Sitting at a computer is not the only online teaching and learning environment. Mobile technologies make connecting with your students simple, yet meaningful. It is important to communicate with your them frequently in an online course, and using videos can enhance your interaction. For more information about online learning technology, watch the recording of our workshop on Promoting Learning with Technology, below.
Faculty are encouraged to bring their tablets or laptops.
The IBM Academic Initiative is the main vehicle IBM uses to provide access to IBM assets at no charge for faculty to use for teaching and non-commercial research purposes at accredited higher education institutions.
In the IBM Academic Initiative, IBM provides access to industry studies, ebooks, white-papers, most of the catalogue of full-function software, courseware and more. The courseware in the IBM Academic Initiative includes in many cases: faculty guides, student guides, lab setup, lab exercises, datasets, student lab books and faculty lab books. The goal is to provide assets to help universities develop skills in critical areas which include big data, cyber security, commerce, social, mobile, analytics and other current and emerging areas.
At the conclusion of the workshop, faculty will be able to access and navigate the majority of the assets and understand how to incorporate the assets into new or enhanced current curriculum.
Blackboard Releases New iOS and Android Updates for Mobile Learn
Blackboard has announced Blackboard Mobile Learn 3.0, the latest version of the mobile app available for Blackboard, which includes Push Notifications and Mobile Tests.
Until now, your students have had to log in to Blackboard to check on their course activity, and to seek out new announcements, grades, tests, or assignments. With Mobile Learn 3.0, notifications generated by the existing Blackboard Learn notification engine will be pushed to users who have logged into Blackboard Mobile Learn.
Who says test taking can’t be fun? Blackboard Mobile Learn 3.0 provides instructors with a streamlined interface to create mobile-compatible tests, and provides students with a beautiful new experience on iOS and Android devices for taking mobile-compatible tests.
With this update, users can enjoy a gorgeous and crisp high resolution interface that leverages the quadrupled number of pixels of the new iPad.
Support for iOS 4.0+ and Android 2.2+:
The all-new features of Blackboard Mobile Learn 3.0 are available for students and instructors with iOS devices running iOS 4.0 or greater and Android devices running Android OS 2.2 or greater. Please note that the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S are all capable of running iOS 4.0 or greater. Only the first generation iPhone is incapable of upgrading.
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.