EULA for students
The big news (thanks Kayvon Beykpour!) from Wednesday's multi-speaker keynote at BbWorld (#BbW12) is that in September, students will have the capability of taking their mobile learning destiny into their own hands. Presently, mobile options for students who wish to use Mobile Learn exist at the institutional level. Schools are the gatekeepers for Blackboard mobile connectivity. With a pivot that maintains Blackboard's Mobile platform as being the new "keepers of cool" for Bb, this news regarding a new end user license is potentially a massive innovation in the higher education mobile space. Students will be able to purchase (for iOS or Android) either year-long ($1.99) or unlimited ($5.99) access for Blackboard Mobile Learn. Initially this might ruffle some feathers as no one likes to talk about shifting costs to students. However, students are paying for mobile access, indirectly or directly anyways, and this shift will allow (potentially) more students to access their courses via their mobile devices. In terms of revenue streams, this represents a major shift in how Blackboard makes money. It's a bold move from the Bay Area-based Bb Mobile crew. It's risky, innovative, and demonstrates a choice-based paradigm that may resonate with the higher education sphere. There's going to be a for-sale-app-for-that…will students buy it?
Collaborate is "everywhere"
When Blackboard's mobile offerings first came online they represented significant UI/UX modifications from the Blackboard Learn platform. Simplicity reigned and friction was the enemy. In addition to the upcoming EULA for Mobile Learn, it was announced that Blackboard's Collaborate platform will be available via mobile. Here's hoping that the Collaborate/Mobile teams have made magic once again when it comes to Mobile + Collaborate. Agility, simplicity, and a frictionless interface are needed features in the world of Bb Collaborate. Fewer features are better in the case of mobile. What works on my iPad will not transition over to my smartphone. It's almost like they need to borrow the concepts of responsive web design and apply them to Collaborate on mobile. Will mobile Collaborate be frictionless?
Text Messaging via ConnectTxt
Our communications channels have become overrun. With too many ways to reach out and connect, we simply have run out of "personal bandwidth." Recognizing this conundrum, Blackboard is going to roll out the capability of sending text messages to students via their Learn platform (with a boost from Bb Connect). It's nifty tech in that it is perhaps one of the last communications mediums that hasn't become oversaturated with static and info overload. However, my guess is that time is running out on the utility of text messages as a means of breaking through the static. Texting students about course assignments will be novel today, but it has the potential to be ignored in a similar way as email. Hopefully, admins and faculty will not go to the text messaging well too often. Text messages almost need to be a protected channel so that it can be used for on campus emergency notifications. What do you think? Will text messages lose their communications novelty like the much bemoaned email?
Augmented Reality on @Bb_Mobile
Sometimes mobile functionality seems like a space race. When augmented reality was shared as one of the newer features for Blackboard Mobile Central my first thought was that while it may be a new feature for Blackboard Mobile, the augmented reality "space" has been active for quite some time. In fact, I can easily recall when I first used (the now pivoted) Layar app on an iPhone to find a restaurant in Boston several years ago. However, the inclusion of augmented reality in Blackboard Mobile does have the potential to create more strategic uses of Bb Mobile and Blackboard's Transact platform. Additionally, with a holistic approach, augmented reality could become part of the data schemes/recipes used in Blackboard Analytics. Augmented or not, the reality of the mobile space is that it is ever-changing and full of innovation. How will you use augmented reality at your campus?
*Full disclosure: I'm giving a sponsored talk on mobile and higher education at #BbW12.
**Written on my new iPad
***The amazing sketchnote artwork is from Gerren Lamson.
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