Blackboard Instructor app
Welcome back! We hope you had a great summer. As you gear up for a busy year, we know many of you are looking for ways to make your work more flexible so you can devote more time to what really matters - your students’ learning. Here’s a new application that might help. Blackboard just released a new tool for instructors that lets you access your Blackboard courses from your smartphone or tablet. It’s called the Blackboard Instructor app.
What is it?
The Blackboard Instructor app is a free app for your Apple or Android mobile device that lets you interact with your Blackboard courses adding some just-in-time convenience than what is currently provided via a web browser. The app is called Blackboard Instructor and it can be downloaded from the Google Play or Apple App Store. It replaces the Blackboard Learn app. You can learn more about it here. Once installed, you access Blackboard using the same login credentials you use now from a web browser. Here are instructions to help you get started.
What can the app do for me?
The Instructor app for faculty gives you a quick and easy way to interact with students, manage your courses, manage and preview content and assignments, create and reply to discussions, create announcements on your mobile device and even host Collaborate sessions.
This is a companion app to the Blackboard Student app that many of your students are already using to access their Blackboard courses on their mobile devices. Mobile access is increasingly the preferred way for students to interact with your online course content.
With the new Blackboard Instructor app you can use your mobile device to:
- Access courses
- Preview course content and assessments
- Create announcements
- Create and reply to discussion boards
- Host Collaborate virtual classroom sessions
Like the Blackboard Student app, the current Blackboard Instructor app can’t fully replicate the Blackboard learn environment in mobile form. This gives it some limitations. Some of the main ones for instructors are that you can’t edit your course content and you can’t enter grades. Despite this, the app can still be useful for quickly viewing your online course materials, engaging in text-based discussions with your students, and creating text-only announcements - all from your mobile device.
Some course content, such as discussions, announcements, assignments, and tests have “native support” in the app. This means their content is shown using the app and it is adjusted to fit the dimensions of the smaller screen. Other content, such as module pages, surveys, wikis, and blogs, have no native support which generally means the app automatically displays their content through your device’s web browser. Blackboard provides a fuller explanation of the content types supported and not supported in the mobile app.
It is on Blackboard’s roadmap to enhance app functionality. But you may find it helpful to download and try out the app now. You can quickly view your courses from anywhere and you can also see how your course navigation and experience may look on a mobile device. The results may surprise you.
Creating mobile-friendly content
In the near future, the majority of students will be engaging with online course content almost entirely using mobile devices. What does this mean for how you design and present your online content? How does the mobile experience differ from using a computer?
If you are interested in this, the team at ELTI can help you with your specific design issues, but here are few basic design principles to keep in mind for mobile users and their smaller screens:
- Keep titles and menu lists short to fit on smaller screens
- Be aware that some file types and content may not display as you think or even at all
- Use a logical course structure with short, nested menus rather than long lists of content links
- Recognize that writing is more difficult on mobile devices so perhaps design discussion posts to be shorter but more frequent
You can explore more design issues specifically related to the Blackboard mobile apps in their help file Creating Mobile-Friendly Content