One of my first findings while looking at the first app of 12 apps for Christmas is that the content viewer in the BB Student App doesn’t display Blackboard Learn’s own content very well:
I wondered why so I did an experiment with Chrome for iPhone, and the content displays fine.
In a follow up to my tweets, Sue Tucker (@sueinasp) pointed out that even the basic rich text handling is inferior.
So I have to wonder why developers keep building inferior versions of their web apps as native apps in the mistaken belief that’s the only kind their users will accept.
I also have to ask Blackboard why their Student App’s content viewer isn’t just an embedded Safari web browser? Or alternatively, why not disinvest in the mobile apps space and just make Blackboard Learn itself fully responsive?
Progressive Web Apps
If you want to learn more about this topic, Google has coined the term Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to describe modern-web-browser-based web applications that are as good (if not better) than native web apps. It is also promoting the development of PWAs in its developer advocacy. See, for example, Learn How to Develop the Next Generation of Applications for the Web.
Developer Advocate Christian Heilmann (@codepo8), once of Mozilla and now of Microsoft, also promotes PWAs on his twitter feed and at conference engagements. For example see:
It’s the first of December and in the Learning Technology world this means the launch of multiple open courses promising to introduce busy academics to 12 Apps of Christmas.
I’m enrolled on the Regent’s University of London course which is being hosted on the Blackboard Open Courses platform.
I’m recommending 12 Apps of Christmas to my colleagues for two reasons. Firstly because it provides useful introductions to mobile apps that they can use with students. But perhaps as important, Blackboard Learn is Swansea University’s VLE so taking part will give my colleagues an insight into what it’s like to be a student on a Blackboard Learn course.
This year, the organizers are also encouraging us to use the Blackboard Student App. This makes the course more accessible – for example I hope to use the app to follow each day’s recommendation while on my daily commute. But in addition, exploring the features and limitations of the app will give valuable insight into what you can and cannot do well when presenting your Blackboard course content on a small mobile device.
More to Explore
To keep up to date with other courses in this space, follow hashtag #12AoC. Here are some similar courses that are also worth a look.
If you know of others, please add a link to the comments.