Bb Student App: An Initial Review

Students here at Victoria College are now able to use Bb Student, a free mobile app that delivers Blackboard content in a more user-friendly environment than its counterpart, the Blackboard Mobile Learn app. I have only briefly explored the app as my test student, so I am providing you with my initial review.

The Bb Student app provides a stream of their courses which includes announcements (both course and institutional), past due assignments, upcoming assignments, and recent activity in courses, such as new content or grades being posted. A student can choose to navigate to a featured course from the stream or from the Courses part of the app.

Depending on how a course is set up in Blackboard, students can easily navigate the majority of content. Students can view documents, complete assignments, and even take tests, though I would never recommend using the app to complete assignments or take tests. Some course tools, such as the internal messages [Messages (Inside of BB)] and discussion board, will open up in the app’s web browser and will only function through a web browser setting. I’m sad to see the app function that way since those are vital communication tools. I could see students taking great advantage of these communication tools if they were easy to use through the app.

Students will find the quick access to grades and upcoming due dates vital when using the app. As long as the instructor has posted grades or assigned due dates for items, these things will populate to the app. However, in my initial testing, I found that manually entered grades for Blackboard tests are not populating to my student’s grades, though manually entered grades for assignments will show up. Let me clarify—if you use Blackboard tests (test, quiz, or exam to be auto-graded by Blackboard), and a student does not take the test through Blackboard, when you enter in their grade in that column (considered an override grade), the grade you enter does not display in the app for the student. For example, my test student did not take quiz 1 or 2, so I put zeros in for those columns. When I view the app as my test student, I do not see the zeros for those quizzes. This is concerning.

Overall, I think students will enjoy the Bb Student app, but from an instructor perspective, there are some definite hiccups. For optimal Blackboard performance, students (and instructors) should log in through a computer. I will continue to explore the app in more depth, but I welcome any feedback you or your students may have!

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