Blackboard Mobile Apps
As of August 2017 there are currently five main mobile apps available for use with Blackboard products, allowing you access to many facets of the VLE on the go. In order to generally simplify their mobile offering, Blackboard are retiring the following three apps in 2017:
- “Mobile Learn” (already retired – August 1st 2017)
- “Bb Grader” (TBC – by end of 2017)
- “Blackboard Collaborate” (TBC – by end of 2017)
This will leave the following two apps available for use by the end of 2017, only:
- “Blackboard Instructor” – For use by staff
- “Blackboard” (formerly known as “Bb Student”) – For use by students.
Much of the functionality provided by the Mobile Learn and Blackboard Collaborate apps will be added to Blackboard App and Blackboard Instructor in the future, if not already available. Much of the grading functionality provided by Bb Grader should be available within Blackboard Instructor by the end of 2017.
It is also possible to visit the VLE through your mobile device’s web browser, without having a specific Blackboard app installed. To check if your device’s web browser will support the VLE use Blackboard’s Browser Checker.
Apps Being Phased Out in 2017
Mobile Learn was originally released in 2010 and was usable by both students and staff on iOS and Android. Students could use the app to view basic VLE site content and interact with tools such as discussion forums. Staff could do the same, but also use the app to add some basic types of new content.
- Mobile Learn is no longer available through the app store on any mobile device, having been retired on August 1st 2017.
- Mobile Learn will continue to function on Android devices for the foreseeable future, but will stop working on Apple devices as soon as they are updated to iOS11.
- Mobile Learn will no longer be supported by Blackboard or our team after August 31st 2017. This means that if you experience issues using this app we will not be able to assist and will instead suggest that you try one of the newer apps (see below) or a standard web browser on a PC or Mac.
Bb Grader was originally released in 2014 for use by staff. It is available on iOS tablets only (not phones, nor any Android devices). Staff can use Grader to do some basic assignment grading tasks.
- Bb Grader is still currently available through the Apple App Store, but will likely be removed before the end of 2017.
- Bb Grader will stop functioning on Apple devices as soon as they are updated to iOS11.
- Bb Grader is currently still supported by Blackboard and our team, but this will likely change by the end of 2017 – Please refer to our future newsletters for updates.
Blackboard Collaborate was originally released in 2012 for use by both staff and students on iOS and Android. This app was designed to allow use of the Collaborate webinar tool on mobile devices.
- Blackboard Collaborate is still currently available through the Google Play and Apple app stores, but will likely be removed before the end of 2017.
- Blackboard Collaborate will continue to function on Android devices for the foreseeable future, but will stop working on Apple devices as soon as they are updated to iOS11.
- Blackboard Collaborate is currently still supported by Blackboard and our team, but this will likely change by the end of 2017 – Please refer to our future newsletters for updates.
Apps For Continued Use During 2017 and Beyond
For Staff: “Blackboard Instructor”
This app for staff use is a very new offering from Blackboard, first released on July 20th 2017. As such, at time of writing (August 4th) it has very limited functionality and is still subject to some initial bugs. Due to this, we would suggest using Blackboard Instructor for the following tasks only at this time:
- Sending out announcements – This will generate an announcement that appears on your VLE site as normal, and will send an email to everyone enrolled on the course which will be delivered within 20-30 minutes of the announcement’s creation.
- Checking basic content items – You can preview them, but not edit them.
- Responding to discussion forum posts – This app has good in-app support for discussion forums, making them straight forward to navigate and use. Currently the other Blackboard tools (journals, blogs and wikis) are not supported in the app.
- Joining Collaborate Ultra sessions – Learn more about using Collaborate via Blackboard Instructor.
And please be aware of the following known bugs:
- Assignment submission points showing as hidden from students when they are not – Currently all assignment submission points will appear to be hidden.
- Email Instructor facility is currently not functioning.
With these caveats in mind, if you’d like to learn more watch Blackboard’s own “Blackboard Instructor App Tour” video or visit the Official Blackboard Instructor Help Pages.
Blackboard Instructor is currently available on iOS 9.0+ and Android 4.2+ devices, with a planned Windows release in the future.
For Students: “Blackboard” app (formerly known as “Bb Student”)
This app for students was first released in 2015 under the name “Bb Student”, but was renamed “Blackboard” in the July 2017 update. It is available on iOS 9.0+, Android 4.2+ and Windows 10+.
We recommend the use of the “Courses” functionality within the Blackboard app only, and strongly suggest that all assessment activity (including actual assignment submission, the checking of due date or other assessment details, grade/feedback retrieval and test taking) is done via a web browser on a PC or a Mac as opposed to using this app on a mobile device. Our position on electronic assessment and mobile apps is outlined in our “E-Assessment and the Blackboard App” blog post.
- Read our Getting Started with the Blackboard App one pager for students.
- Learn more about the available “Courses” functionality by watching Blackboard’s own “Blackboard App Tour” video (from 1:30) or by visiting the Official Blackboard App Help Pages.
- Learn more about using Collaborate via the Blackboard app.
- Learn more about designing VLE content for use by students on mobile devices by visiting section 2.1.1 of our TEL Handbook: 2.1.1 Mobile-Friendly Sites.
- Visit our Mobiles Apps for Students page to learn about other apps that we suggest students try.