Blackboard’s (Bb) Mobile Learn app has been working fairly well on my iPhone for months now so I figured I would give it a try on a different platform (Android) as well for comparison sake. This was not meant to be, but let me explain.
Recently, we have purchased a Motorola Xoom (along an iPad 2 for testing and feature comparison – more about this comparison/review later) and after downloading the app from Android Market the above error came up. I remembered seeing this once before prior to Bb Mobile Learn being enabled at our university so I thought that the same had to be done for Android devices (even though technically that didn’t make much sense) so I contacted the team responsible for Blackboard within our institution and asked if access from Android devices could be enabled. Their answer was surprising, while Bb Mobile Learn works over Wi-Fi on iOS devices the only way it will work on Android (or Blackberry) is over Sprint’s 3G/4G network. What!? Why would access be limited to Sprint’s cellular network, it just doesn’t make sense. Even when taking into consideration the last sentence of the above message: “Sprint users can use Blackboard Mobile Learn at no cost to the institution due to a partnership between Sprint and Blackboard” this imposed limitation makes no sense and here’s why.
My iPhone uses AT&T’s network and Bb Mobile Learn works fine over their cellular network (including Wi-Fi at home, work…) so this “Sprint partnership” exclusivity line is a bunch of nonsense. Blackboard should definitely enable Wi-Fi access to their app for all mobile platforms in order to level the playing field while expanding their reach and strengthening their presence in the LMS market which will undoubtedly be challenged in years to come (several alternatives are available with many of them at a much lower premium which is increasingly becoming more important). Just something to keep in mind, Blackboard.
On a slightly different note, Firefox v.5 is out today, how long will it take Blackboard to catch up and certify anything newer than v.3.6? Have they simply become too big and slow to keep up?