Blackboard users (you know who you are) rejoice! A week or so ago, Blackboard made it known that they have a native iphone app under review with Apple that will allow users to access their Blackboard accounts in their iPhone or iPod Touch. It probably won’t be long before we see the app show up in the App Store. The app will be free and uses Blackboard Sync to push and pull information to and from the iPhone. There is a YouTube video posted from a tradeshow where a Blackboard rep is demoing the app in the booth. The audio is a little low and the camera can’t get a good focused image of the screen, but the rep is well spoken and explains generally what it will do. It sounds like Blackboard is building out a number of apps or hooks into social services and other mobile devices.
While Blackboard may not be the cutting edge of education technology, it is used widely on campuses, so this move to the iPhone is a good one and should help bolster further use and development of Blackboard services for mobile users. If you don’t want to sit through the four or so minutes of the YouTube video, here are the takeaways:
- It uses smart Token technology to store passwords remotely on secure servers. No passwords are stored on the device.
- Will provide alerts to new course content, grades and announcements
- To access, just enter the URL of your particular Blackboard, enter your password and you are in.
- Can access and read Blackboard Mail (and presumably send it too)
- Supports Learning Module content, but not the actual formatting of the Learing Module, so it will look different when seen in Mobile Safari on the iPhone.
- Supports proprietary Building Blocks plug-in architecture so one can make unique customized plug-ins for Blackboard
- Blackboard working on integrating across mobile devices and services such as iGoogle and Yahoo!. It currently has a Facebook app.
- PDFs can be viewed in a Blackboard account on the iPhone (question asked to the rep at the end)
So keep an eye out on the App Store and you should see the free Blackboard app show up any day now.