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Blackboard Adds Testing to Mobile Learning App

Blackboard has updated its mobile app to accommodate test taking and to deliver alerts to students when changes happen to their courses without the learning management system (LMS) app being opened. Version 3.0 of Blackboard Mobile Learn allows students to take tests through their devices. That includes a feature that enables the user to start a mobile-based test by "cutting" a red ribbon on a traditional exam blue book. He or she can flag a question for later review by tapping a corner of the screen to create a "dog ear" and eliminate multiple choice answer options from the list by swiping them.

The new features of the latest release are currently available only for Apple iOS and Google Android devices. The company said the previous version of the app will continue being supported on Blackberry and WebOS and it will "continue to evaluate viable platforms for future development based on usage and popularity."

On the instructor side, the tests can be set up using a test authoring tool as quizzes to be done in class or as exercises for outside the classroom, during field trips or other activities. For example, a teacher could ask a student to submit a photograph from their device as part of an answer. Grades can be instantly entered into the Blackboard gradebook.

"We thought a lot about our days as students taking (online and offline) tests and we realized that we never really thought test-taking was a pleasant experience," said Kayvon Beykpour, general manager of Blackboard Mobile. "Dull test booklets, machine-readable bubble sheets, and No. 2 pencils never really made it fun to take a test. Our ambition with Blackboard Mobile Learn 3.0 was to change the relationship a student has with tests. We wanted to make a beautiful test-taking experience on devices that students already love using."

The new release also can be set up to push notifications to students to keep them informed about their courses without having to open the LMS application. Users can set preferences on notifications to receive alerts when new grades are posted, new course announcements are made, and tests are added.

"We're very excited about the new features in Blackboard Mobile Learn," said Stephanie Richter, instructional technologies coordinator at Northern Illinois University. "We're beginning to see more and more faculty and students use and experiment with the app, and we're really glad to see Blackboard is committed to creating a more engaging and interactive learning experience. We think our students will be delighted with the new features."

Version 3.0 of Blackboard Mobile Learn is available now for clients using Blackboard Learn 9.1. It supports devices running Android 2.2 and above and iOS 4.0 and above.

The company said it has almost 1,300 institutions around the world are using the mobile platform.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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