Engaging students using Blackboard Mobile Learn

How can I engage my students during face to face sessions using my studentcentral material?

This article looks at how you can use your existing materials and modules on studentcentral to engage your students during face to face seminars and lectures using the Blackboard Mobile Learn App and their mobile phones.

*NOTE – Although you can use existing material you may find it useful to develop or repurpose material specifically with mobile use in mind. If you’re not sure what can and can’t be used speak to your LTA.

What works well on a mobile and what could I use it for?

1. The Test tool

When might you use tests?

These can be used during a live face to face session to gauge your students understanding of a subject or topic.

The mobile test interface is much more engaging than the web version…a little like a game environment and great for formative tests.

You could try asking your students some questions at the start of a session and then repeat the test again towards the end of the session.

The results will appear in the Grade centre making it easy for you to use the data for analysis.

Question types that work with Blackboard Mobile

Calculated numeric, file response, fill in multiple blanks, hot spot, multiple choice, short answer, and true/false

What tests look like

The test entry point

Questions are the presented as pages in a book. Students answer the question and then swipe the screen to move on.

When the student gets to the end of the questions they see the following screen that requires then to sign before submitting.

Once they’ve signed the ‘Submit Exam’ button is available.

Once submitted the ‘Book closes’ and their submission is confirmed. They can also ‘Try Again’ if you’ve enabled multiple attempts.

If you want your students to check their results you’ll need to make the ‘My Grades’ tool available on the menu.


2. The Discussion Board tool

The Discussion Board tool has always been a little ‘clunky’ in the web version, but the Mobile Version of the same tool is a little like instant messaging in its format, so much more familiar and user friendly which encourages participation.

When might you use it?

Again in a face to face session you could direct students to post questions about the topics being covered. The format enables either yourself or other students to respond to the threads, and pushes responses through live. File attachments can also be included as can URLs and photos taken directly from the mobile device camera, useful for directing students to ‘further reading’ or for additional engagement activities or group work.

It could improve students’ confidence, improve peer relations, create a peer support network, improve understanding of a topic, improve engagement and help you to understand their level of understanding during a session enabling you to adjust the content accordingly.

The Discussion board can then become a useful Q&A resource.

What does it look like?

3. The Blog tool

The blog tool is similar to the Discussion Tool but the questions are not directed by you. Students post and entry and the entries can be commented on.

When might you use it?

As well as using it in a similar way as the discussion board, because it’s not directed the students could use it to form opinions on the session topics and to have a more open ended discussion.

What does it look like?

4. The Journal tool

The journal tool can be set up so that it’s individual to each student, a little like a diary, although you can see and comment on their entries their peers can’t.

When might you use it?

You could encourage your students to use it to reflect on their understanding of a lecture or face to face seminar. Maybe direct them to think about what knowledge they’ve gained from the session and how they may apply that knowledge. Encouraging them to record this during a session on a mobile device may make it more memorable and motivate them to reflect on their understanding and ask questions.

What does it look like?


What else can the mobile app do to help with engagement?

Alerts/Push Notifications

Blackboard Mobile Learn can also help with student engagement with a module and the online content for that module if students setup ‘Push Notifications’. What this means is that if set up each time an announcement is made or content or a test added and released the student will receive an alert to their mobile phone, giving them instant access to. They have control over what items they are alerted to and how they receive the alerts.

How do they set this up?

To set up their preferences for what they receive they’ll need to go to studentcentral ‘My Places’ and choose ‘Edit Notification Settings’.

In the screen that loads they can select either individual courses for the notification or all courses, and then they choose what type of item/announcement they want to be notified about.

Once they’ve done that they’ll then need to enable the Notifications on their preferred mobile device.e.g. on the iphone it looks like this….

NEW: Notifications on iPhone/iDevices (iOS7.1)

I am the Learning Technologies Adviser for Brighton Business School; Environment and Technology; PABS; Art, Design and Media. I am based in the Aldrich Library. My role is to to provide research, guidance and support with the use and implementation of technology in teaching and research. My background is in the creative arts, education and technology and I would see myself as a creative technologist. You can follow me on twitter using @mecurdy To find out more about the technologies and services we support visit the elearning blog: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/elearningteam/

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