At a recent conference I attended a presentation about the beta testing of an mLearning software suite. mLearning is eLearning for mobile devices–mostly smart phones, but conceivably netbooks as well. The presenter had developed both a server and client (i.e. for the mobile device) application. It looked rather rudimentary, but the idea of it is timely.

Many users aren’t aware there’s an iPhone apps for Blackboard. Don’t get too excited, it’s for Blackboard Learn (the app is called, unsurprisingly, Blackboard Learn for the iPhone) not WebCT Vista, which is another Blackboard product. Not compatible with UBC’s LMS set-up, in other words. In fact, the hundreds of institutions that became “Blackboard” customers when Blackboard bought WebCT must either upgrade to BbLearn or live without iPhone compatibility.

Just to make it more confusing, there are apps for both the iPhone and Blackberry from Blackboard called Blackboard Mobile. It isn’t, however, an app for connecting to a Learning Management System: it’s more of a suite of apps for connecting to specific components of a university’s web presence. Yet another “app” that really just is wired to specific web sites isn’t news; Blackboard appearing to deviate from the LMS sphere is. I think they’ll find in the long run this isn’t a great road to hoe…particularly when the iPhone’s SDK (Software Developer’s Kit) is readily available to most anyone willing to sign up.

This morning I was en route to campus when I received a call about a Vista site problem. After initially responding that I’d have to wait until Translink deposited me at work, I remembered my iPhone. And, after a fair amount of futzing I managed to do what I needed on my iPhone. It wasn’t fun–the iPhone and javascript-driven sites like Vista don’t always get along well–but I got the fix done.

About John P Egan

Learning technology professional.
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