Blackboard Mobile Central

Blackboard Mobile Central (EDUCAUSE2009)

Gatecrashed a Benelux meeting with Kayvon Beykpour, now Blackboard, formerly TerriblyClever, designer of mobile offering now called Blackboard Mobile Central. Key points:

  • Mobile Central = nothing to do with Bb Learn – will work with any VLE etc.
  • Developed at Stanford (also Campus Solutions customer)
  • DUT looking into levels of iPhone/Blackberry usage in their student body, despite having already gone with the product
  • Accessible on any mobile device – native on iPhone/Blackberry, mobile web for any other device that has internet access.
  • Architecture: client devices talk to Bb Central Service/Cloud, cloud gets info a) directly from institution eg LDAP directory, b) from local databases eg course catalogue, integrated with other modules eg contacts, maps. Temporary solution where don’t have web services – client does data extract to Bb database, Bb do API to cloud/device c) authenticated services, where can eg enrol on module – client devices speak directly to institution.
  • Can show all video content.
  • User loads app from iPhone or Blackberry stores – Bb has to go through app submission process, good relationships with Apple/RIM so not too much of a problem.
  • Mobile Learn – to be rolled out, issues about viability on mobile device.
  • 2 way communications: announcements; google analytics for the iPhone, tracking usage.
  • Completely hosted solution: build iPhone, Blackberry & mobile web apps. Get institutional info, plug it into the cloud.
  • Business model: subscription product. All enhancements are part of the subscription. Best to use a phased approach.
  • DUT – going with courses, news, events, campus maps, courses, library – no local databases, all web services or RSS feeds.
  • Development environment – so institution can create modules using SDK on top of Apple’s SDK.
  • Bb creating more formal mobile user community.
  • Looking into replicating/simulating mobile app on University portal.
  • Implementation timescales – 6-8 weeks.
  • Suggestion from Dutch University – there is a need to think about communication strategy with students.
  • With iPhone, can go to Bb website & download apps to take a look.

So, worth looking at as possible alternative to campusM. Very similar conceptually/architecturally. No real advantage to Bb’s relationship with Campus Solutions customers, as access to information in any SRS is by XML extracts so vendor neutral.

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