Mobile Computing | News
Blackboard Moves Mobile Central Suite onto Android
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Blackboard has brought its Mobile Central app to the Android platform. The app, intended for smart phones, is custom-built for each institution then made available to the campus community for free. It provides navigation on campus maps, access to course catalogs, event calendars, campus news, sports schedules, and a campus directory that allows users to call or e-mail professors and classmates directly from the app.
The latest release rounds out Blackboard's mobile campus offering, which is already available in native form for Apple and Blackberry devices, as well as a mobile Web version. The app follows on Blackboard's acquisition of Terribly Clever, a company that produced campus apps for Stanford University, Duke University, and other campuses. The San Francisco-based development company was acquired by Blackboard in 2009.
Northwestern University, which is already delivering multiple applications to the campus community, has said it will make the Android version of the app available as part of its Northwestern Mobile initiative.
"Most of our incoming students arrive with smart phones, and a growing number of these phones are Android devices," said Harlan Wallach, media architect in the university's Academic & Research Technology group. "The ability for us to reach students through smart phones is key to the overall experience and efficiency of our university. Working with Blackboard, we've been able to do that quickly and with very high quality native applications that support the wide range of mobile devices our students are using. We're looking forward to exploring the ability to customize the app to meet the needs of individual schools and departments."
Northwestern launched Blackboard Mobile Central on the iOS platform in December 2009 and is the first institution to expand access to Android smart phones. The institution has also enabled access to Blackboard Mobile Learn to let students access online course information on their smart phones.
Android-specific features of the new app include: Widgets, which allows users to select specific types of information from Blackboard Mobile Central and display it on their home screen; and Shortcuts, which let users create a direct shortcut to any one of the Blackboard Mobile Central modules directly on the phone's home screen so that they can be accessed without having to open the app.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.