Blackboard Collaborate Goes Mobile
This June, Blackboard, Inc. increased its mobile offerings. The learning management system (LMS) provider launched its collaborative Web tool, Blackboard Collaborate, in app form under private beta with select K-12 and higher education institutions. Blackboard Collaborate Mobile allows educators and students to Web conference, share content, instant message, respond to surveys, raise hands, and more from tablets and smartphones. Mark Gensimore sits on the Product Advisory Council for Blackboard Collaborate Mobile and is the Vice President of Business and Professional Development for blendedschools.net (BSN), a nonprofit empowering schools to teach and learn online by providing K-12 curriculum, learning technologies, professional development and a professional network. BSN uses Blackboard Collaborate Mobile internally and externally, said Gensimore. Internally, the staff uses the online tool for direct instruction, staff and board meetings, and professional development. Gensimore added, “Because not all of our participants can attend instructional sessions from a traditional location, mobile accessibility provides BSN with opportunities we didn’t have in the past.” Externally, BSN provides education technologies, including Blackboard Collaborate Mobile, to more than 170 school districts across the nation for a wide range of educational needs including lesson planning, tutoring, education sessions, and conferences. One of these programs is the BSN Language Institute, which uses Blackboard Collaborate Mobile for direct instruction. “The Language Institute program is a partnership of forward-thinking school districts, Seton Hill University, high quality instructors, and experienced blendedschools.net staff,” said Gensimore. “The program’s curriculum is designed to offer critical language instruction with synchronous direct instruction and engaging asynchronous content to create a strong blended learning environment. mobile access through Blackboard Collaborate Mobile allows students to attend all scheduled events in a mobile environment.” BSN sees Blackboard Collaborate Mobile as a valuable tool to use in an increasingly mobile world, especially where schools are embracing bring your own device (BYOD) programs or 1:1 tablet, smartphone, or laptop programs. Gensimore added, “Many of our districts have BYOD programs, and the incorporation of a tool like Blackboard Collaborate Mobile currently allows students to participant in Blackboard Collaborate Mobile sessions using their iPhones and iPads.” “As educators evaluate 21st century teaching and learning tools, it’s critical to ensure that students are able to access instruction and content from Mobile devices,” said Gensimore. “This immediacy and focus on connectivity will allow educators to expand programs without restrictions.”
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