Rider launches new Blackboard mobile app

By Milvian Prieto and Rachel Stengel

Checking for updates on your classes wherever you go just got easier. Last week, Blackboard officially launched a mobile application, Blackboard Mobile Learn.

The BlackBoard Learn application is a free application available for students, faculty and staff. It is available for Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and HP web OS devices.

“Blackboard mobile Learn enables students and faculty to access much of the content already available on Blackboard Learn from your mobile devices,” according to the website.

An email introducing the new service was sent out on Sept. 14 by Associate Vice President for the Office of Information Technology, Carol Kondrach. It included a scannable code and instructions on how to access the application.

Students select Rider University and then log in with their Easypass username and password, just like on the Blackboard website.  The application contains many of the same features that are available on the standard Blackboard site. Students can view announcements set by their professors. The mobile application offers instant access to announcements such as class being cancelled or homework assignments that were posted. Discussion boards allow students to communicate with classmates and instructors. Professors can respond to the discussion board for all students in the class to view. Students can track the progress of various actions with the task feature. Class rosters are availble to view as well as grades. Interaction with classmates is further facilitated with the blogging and journal features. Comments can be posted on others’ blogs and students can view others’ journal postings. Videos, music and images uploaded by professors can be viewed on the go with the mobile device.

There are a few limitations as well. Assignments can only be viewed, which means there is no submission option available.

There is no Grade Center integration for faculty. Sharestream Media, Wimba Classroom and flash-based content is only accessible from a desktop or laptop.

The impact on students’ learning is unclear, according to Kondrach.

“It will create opportunities for faculty and students to explore potential uses, collaborate and share ideas,” Kondrach said.

Students are pleased with the services the new application offers.

“It’s a quick way to see what’s going on in your class when you can’t get to a computer,” said sophomore Iliana Matienzo. “It’s pretty simple too. It lists the classes you are taking for the semester and any previous classes you’ve had before. It has all the documents you’d usually see through the Blackboard website so you know what’s for homework right after class. There’s even a part where you can see the clubs and organizations that you are in if they are on Blackboard. Plus, you can make the classes that you have this semester as your favorites so you won’t get confused about which classes are in the past.”

The application still has room for improvement, according to freshman Kyrie Bruce.

“It’s pretty much the same thing as the online version,” said Bruce. “You just can’t upload assignments and it also crashes every now and then, which makes it difficult to use.”
Students can visit www.rider.edu/bbmobilelearn_students for more information. The website includes frequently asked questions. There is also a PDF instructional guide for each device.

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