A 100% Mobile Course Using Blackboard Mobile: PE

About a year ago, we sent our students a survey to ask them how they would like to interact with their courses using mobile devices. Not surprisingly, they overwelmingly responded that they wanted to do it all!

55% of our students (Idaho HS students) responded that they had access to a mobile device with Internet access. An additional 5% said that they plan to have access within the next year.

Survey: What do students want to do with mobile devices?

  • #1 – Check my grades – 84%
  • #2 – Discussion boards – 65%
  • #3 – Complete Assignments – 50%
  • #4 – Review with Practices, Podcasts, & Mobile activities – 45%

Here are just a few of the suggestions we received from students:

  • Make all the assignments compatible with mobile devices 😉
  • Make class work compatible with mobile devices. We’re entering a world of which includes many new innovative tools that are taking us into a new technological period… Modern educational innovation is what I crave as a student. 😉
  • Continue to offer different things using mobile devices.
  • Being able to study for test on mobile devices.

Because of this feedback, we began implementing mobile learning options for our students. I will write more about the different ways to jumpstart mobile learning in your courses in a future post but this one is specifically on our completely mobile course we developed using Blackboard Mobile.

Why Blackboard Mobile?

The majority of the online courses we offer are developed using Blackboard. It made sense for us to leverage the knowledge we already had when developing a mobile course. We also liked some of the tools available in Blackboard Mobile. We decided that for our first mobile course we would offer Mobile PE (Lifetime Fitness).  Note: This course is 100% mobile for students only. Currently, teachers still need to do the grading, etc using a desktop or laptop computer.

Why Lifetime Fitness?

We’ve offered online Lifetime Fitness for several years. Kids love it! Mobile devices allow us to leverage new and exciting ways to learn the content in the course. Also, lifetime fitness, by name logically relates to movement and exercise, which is done away from a standard computer.

How is the course designed?

This was our first attempt at designing an online course to run completely on mobile devices. However, we referred to Basic Principles of Mobile Learning Design to help us get started.

  • Modules are small to allow students to easily start & stop.
  • The discussion boards and blogs tools work great in Blackboard mobile so we designed the assignments around these tools. Currently, neither the assignment tool nor the test tool are mobile friendly so we did not use them for this course.
  • The Check Grades tool also works well so students can check their grades at their convenience.
  • Types of Assessments Include:
    • Discussion Board.  The discussion board tool works pretty well in BB Mobile. We did have to create a thread inside each discussion board with the prompt in it to ensure that the students can see the prompt. 
    • Public Blogs.  Similar to the the discussion boards, these look great in BB Mobile. Students are able to post pictures to the blogs in collaborative assignments. 
    • Private Blogs – I presume that in the future Blackboard will make the assignment tool and/or the test tool mobile friendly, but currently they are not (meaning you have to click “view in browser” and then zoom in and out in order to complete the assignment or test).  Because of this, we used the private blog so students could submit their responses to their teacher privately. It’s a good alternative if you keep in mind two things: 1) Students don’t want to type long essays using their keypad so you will want to minimize the data entry and 2) For teachers, grading a blog may be more time consuming than the regular “assignment tool” assignments.
    • Free iOS apps (there is no textbook) but the students download the apps to practice and learn from as they progress through the units. Its much more than just reading the content thanks to these cool apps. The teacher also developed a list of extra websites and “additional apps” just in case an app dissappears from the appstore, is no longer free, or if an app doesn’t install correctly for whatever reason on the student’s device. Then once a student learns the topic using the app, they post the answers to questions related to the app using the “private blog” assignment tool. Some of the apps we use include the Nike Training App, Target Weight, Heart Rate, Calorie Counter, Daily Burn, and GoLearn Cycling.
  • Navigating Mobile Lifetime Fitness:

  • Module View of Mobile Lifetime Fitness:


  • Snapshots from Course. Additionally here are some views of the course.

We also built in mobile surveys using Surveymonkey throughout the course to get feedback from students on what they like and what they think could be better about the course. This data will be crucial as we integrate mobile learning components in future courses.

By the way, in case you missed the earlier post, here are 14 Crucial Tips for Mobile Learning Design. Blackboard also has some Best Practices for Mobile Learning with BB Mobile.

What do you think about Mobile Learning? Do you have any suggestions on design tips for an effective mobile course?


This information was shared thanks to Idaho Digital Learning.


4 thoughts on “A 100% Mobile Course Using Blackboard Mobile: PE

  1. I think it would be a neat study to offer this "course" though a mobile medium that students use, such as Facebook or Google Plus. Since the Bb mobile platform is lacking in a lot of tools anyway, why not make it more social and outside of a password-protected environment? Younger students don’t really use email as much and discussion forums might not be the best way to engage them. I realize you have built this course in Bb mobile, but maybe have another class use free, traditional mobile tools and compare the two for interactions and engagement. What do you think? This should be possible with high school students.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Barbara. I agree that an open mobile course using social networking tools would be pretty cool. No doubt students would be more engaged if they are able to share their comments with more than just their classmates. One of the limitations we have is that for K12 students we are forced to keep students names and work in a secure environment, which is one plus of Blackboard but I wonder if there are any tools out there that could provide the safety and security while also being more open and/or leveraging some sort of social aspects.

  3. <font face="verdana,sans-serif">Well you could easily do a secret Fb group. And I think the circles feature of GPlus makes the environment safe and private. I applaud your efforts at trying to offer students access and collaboration tools that enable anytime, anywhere learning. <br> <br>Barbara<br></font><br><div id="WISESTAMP_SIG_1225"><div style="font-size: 13.3px; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">

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  4. I actually hadn’t heard about the private Facebook group. I’ll definitely look into how that works because that might work really well if it can be secure. Good idea! Thanks for sharing!

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