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Blackboard Takes Mobile Apps to the End User

This fall, faculty and students will no longer need access to a Blackboard institutional license to use Blackboard mobile applications--as long as they're willing to shell out $5.99 for the software or an annual subscription fee of $1.99.

This September, Blackboard Mobile Learn for iOS and Android will be available for purchase by end users "without requiring an investment by their institution," according to Blackboard, which made the announcement at the BbWorld 2012 event happening this week in New Orleans.

"We've seen a tremendous take-up of Blackboard Mobile Learn," said Kayvon Beykpour, general manager of Blackboard Mobile, in a prepared statement. "But we wanted to implement a model that gave users the choice to use the application even if their school hasn't subsidized it. We hope that providing users this new option will help more students and institutions expand access to mobile learning."

Mobile Learn is designed to mimic the full functionality of the Web-based Learn platform, including two-way communication between students and teachers, access to gradebooks, blog access and commenting, discussion board participation, and student-to-student e-mail communications. According to Blackboard, the mobile apps have been downloaded to more than 3 million individual devices and accessed more than 60 million times in the last two-and-a-half years. "Nearly 1,300 institutions worldwide have enabled the apps since Blackboard first introduced them in 2010," Blackboard reported.

Meanwhile, Blackboard said it will continue to offer the Blackboard Mobile Learn institutional license for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and webOS devices.

The company explained: "Blackboard will also continue to offer an institutional license version of Blackboard Mobile Learn that lets institutions subsidize access for all students and faculty on all of their devices, and to extend access to BlackBerry and webOS devices for which in-app purchases are not currently common. The institutional license version also enables institutions to integrate Blackboard Mobile Learn with Blackboard Mobile Central, the company's popular campus life and services application.... Higher education institutions in North America currently leveraging the no cost option will be transitioned to the subscription option with no action required."

In addition, there will be a new Blackboard Building Block institutions can download to support the end user subscription option.

Blackboard Mobile Learn for iOS and Android will be available through the Apple App Store and Google Play beginning in September. The software will support all Android and iOS devices on all carriers, according to Blackboard. The $1.99 "in-app" subscription is an introductory price. Blackboard did not indicate what the price would be after the introductory period. Additional details can be found on Blackboard's site.

Editor's note: This article has been modified since its original publication to correct a factual error related to the cost of Blackboard Mobile Learn. [Last updated July 11, 2012 at 9:10 a.m.] --David Nagel


About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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