E-Assessment and the Blackboard App

Blackboard’s mobile offering for students is the “Blackboard” app. This app was previously known as “Bb Student” (up until a July 2017 update) and replaces their old offering of “Mobile Learn”.

You can learn more about Blackboard’s current mobile app strategy on our VLE Mobile App Update – 2017 page.

Whilst the Blackboard app can be a quick and convenient way for students to check most types of VLE site content and tools such as Discussion Forums, we strongly advise against using mobile apps for any form of assessment activity, including but not limited to:

  • Submitting assignments to standard or anonymised submission points
  • Checking due dates/times or any other assessment details
  • Posting to graded tools such as blogs, journals, wikis or discussion forums
  • Retrieving grades or checking feedback
  • Taking online tests (quizzes).

The above-listed activities should ideally be performed using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers on a Windows or Mac computer running a recent operating system.

Our team perform large quantities of testing in preparation for any upgrades to the Blackboard system and we have a high level of confidence in this Chrome/Firefox and Windows/Mac combination. In the rare occurrence where a genuine issue is found with this combination we log it, include it in our support documentation and report it back to departments when students may be affected. It is important to note that our team control all updates to the Blackboard system (as accessed via a web browser); updates are only implemented after we have performed sufficient testing.

In contrast, updates made to mobile apps cannot be controlled by our team, they are instead pushed out by the vendor to the various app stores every few months. Our team have no way to intervene with this process. If an update is made to an app that introduces errors we cannot block it from being released to app stores, we can only attempt to triage the resultant issues. This changeable nature of mobile apps can therefore introduce unexpected issues to workflows such as assignment submission which could stop students being able to successfully submit.

In summary: “uncontrolled” updates to mobile apps can quickly change core functionality with little to no warning and so they should not be used for critical tasks.

If you have a specific requirement for your students to be able to submit an assignment via a mobile device, or if you have any other queries concerning Blackboard mobile apps please contact the ELDT at vle-support@york.ac.uk

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