Blackboard Learn v BB Student App (1)

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:

Some unexpected consequences

An unexpected consequence of moving from my self-hosted WordPress blog to was that my embedded Storifys stopped working, I lost some images, and several mysterious links to twitter javascript had appeared. A few minutes with the documentation confirmed what I guessed to be true that (for good security reasons) doesn’t allow¬†arbitrary embedded HTML¬†and JavaScripts to be included in posts and pages delivered from the hosted service.

I did discover that there are good blogger-friendly shortcuts that allow bloggers to easily embed some types of media into their posts and pages. So it turned out that to change my embedded tweets, I simply had to replace the embed code from that I obtained from Twitter with the URL of the tweet on a line by itself. Like this for this one

There is no embed code though for Storify, so I had to replace the embedded stories from the last few months with plain old links.

I also had to find and re-upload a few images that had vanished.

I think this work is now complete, but do let me know if you find anything odd in the archives.

Another unexpected consequence of this need to update my pages is that some posts have been re-posted and announced again on my social media sites. I didn’t intend to spam you honest!

12 Apps of Christmas (#RUL12AoC #12AoC)

It’s the first of December and time to sign up for a 12 Apps of Christmas course.

img_1030 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.