Student Perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads #edtech

From my previous post about designing Blackboard courses for a mobile-first delivery, and the discussion I’ve been having with Peter Reed and friends on his blog, this paper came at a good time to further the question “do we need this?” – AJET: “Student Perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads”

Well, do we? The paper concludes in saying that the students “did not demand mobile learning and were in fact mostly neutral about the experience” and that “they did not perceive a notable improvement to their learning” (Kinesh et al, 2012). While the students did not report an opposition to the inclusion of the mobile App, they also are not reported to have had any prior experience of it, a preference to mobile learning that was not limited to Blackboard Mobile Learn, nor they opinions (positive or negative) to mobile learning in general. 

It’s also worth noting that the paper was written before the recent upgrade to the App, where the appearance was still the rather tacky ‘chalk on blackboard’ approach. I like the new interface, it’s clean and tidy, but it has some issues which I won’t go into here.

Perhaps it’s still too early to say whether an institutionally provided mobile learning infrastructure will appeal to students, or whether they will shun one in favour of the more open or public systems like Facebook , but the question still remains … “should we be designing our courses for a mobile-first approach?”

I do wholeheartedly agree with the final statement in that “educators are to be encouraged to use mobile learning in their suite of approaches to quality teaching and learning in higher education”, this is reflected in my contribution to the Improving Learning with Mobile Technology eBook last year.

Kinash, S., Brand, J. & Mathew, T. (2012). Challenging mobile learning discourse through research: Student perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(4), 639-655.

Image source: University Life 30 (CC BY 2.0)

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  • Peter Reed

    Hi David,

    Thanks, interesting post.
    I clicked through and skimmed the article. In some ways I reject the notion of that research i.e. does Bb Mobile Learn *enhance* learning?
    It might not. It probably won’t in fact. But it’s not necessarily about that. As much of the stuff I’ve been talking about recently suggests, it’s more about convenience and access a lot of the time. We haven’t forced mobile learn on our students at Liverpool but boy have they took it up, and data from my student survey suggested they want to access slides, etc, via mobiles.


    • Hi Pete. I totally agree – I doubt the Bb Mobile Learn App does , or even can, offer any valued learning enhancement, but it does offer availability, convenience, and always-connected possibilities that a purely desktop environment does not.

      Did you see this video Bb tweeted this morning – LMU Mobile Strategy:

      It raised more questions than it answered, for me: notably that it’s nothing to do with a mobile strategy, it’s just a case study on what they did and not about the planning, implementation (although they do show some useful Mosaic screens).


      • Peter Reed

        Hi David,

        Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen that one. Mosaic might be useful but that didn’t show too much of it. I do like @disqus_KcpcjGj1k3:disqus ‘s comment below tho…

  • dmcelroy

    Its not the system that enhances learning. Its what the teacher designs as a learning environment and how they involve the students that is critical.

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  • Catherine Delia

    I read this with interest because our Med School has required that all medical students have an iPad. We chose not to use the Blackboard Mobile Learn App because of it’s limitations on making the content accessible on the iPad. We even have a set of guidelines for designing your course in Blackboard for the iPad via the Safari browser.

    The more interesting thing to me is the perception that the technology shouldn’t really matter. As Ed Tech professionals we are continually focused on the technology as the thing but as that all becomes more ubiquitous we need to be more focused on the teaching strategies that incorporate the technology. It’s becoming rarer that we need to teach faculty how to use the technology, although there’s still a lot of that. We need to teach faculty why to use the technology and how that impacts the way they teach. Faculty need to know that if you have a class of 100 students you probably don’t want to use the Discussion Board as your primary means of assessment. While if you had 15 students, the Discussion Board is a good engagement tool.

    It’s that shift in thinking that I’m working through now.