To get the fullest use of Blackboard on Android, it is still advisable to have a group of applications. You should at least have Blackboard Mobile Learn and either the Chrome or Dolphin web browser. (The Blackboard web interface is not officially supported on any Android browser, but we've had the best luck with Chrome and Dolphin; stay away from the native Android Web Browser and Firefox.)
Note: There are a large number of possible Android configurations. This document is based on testing done with Android 4.1 on Asus Transformer tablets.
The following apps are currently recommended for use with Android devices:
- Blackboard Mobile Learn is best suited for quickly checking course content, discussion boards, blogs, and journals. Attaching content stored on the device or in Dropbox to a new Item. This app is not useful for editing existing content, only creating new content.
- A web browser (Chrome or Dolphin preferred) can be used to check on the Grade Center and perform more complex Blackboard operations like item editing and item creation. You can also create and edit tests, surveys, pools, and SafeAssignments. In general you will want to use a web browser on Android devices to complete more serious or intensive tasks within Blackboard.
- Dropbox is recommended for storing and transferring files that are not FERPA protected. Remember, do not store any file that contains student-identifiable information. Also, Dropbox is convenient for moving files from other apps to Blackboard Mobile Learn.
- Adobe Acrobat or iAnnotate are both extremely useful applications for working with PDFs on Android devices.
- A productivity suite is useful for content creation and editing. Many of these are Dropbox enabled. Polaris Office (which comes with some tablets) is a good general purpose suite, as is Documents to Go; however, the formatting of the Blackboard Grade Center downloads would not display correctly in either. We were able to get it to work correctly in Kingsoft Office.
- Tegrity Mobile allows viewing of Tegrity videos. In theory, you can also record camera and voice with your tablet, then upload those to Tegrity; however, in testing, we had consistently fatal problems both with image capture and with uploading the recording on our devices running Android 4.1.
Notes on Blackboard Settings
- Because the Visual Editor tools behave erratically in Android web browsers, we recommend that the Visual Editor be turned off if you are just going to be adding text. Copy and pasting from a word-processing document into the Visual Editor or the plain Text Editor is not possible in the recommended browsers. We had some success with it in Opera, although it was awkward.
- The Grade Center works best if set to Screen Reader mode.
- In some browsers, you may need to tap next to a link to get the menus to appear in content areas.
- In some cases, particularly in the Course Menu and Control Panel, it is better to tap and hold to get an "Open" menu to pop up, then use that to open the link rather than just tapping on the item. For the most part, you do not need to use the Paste from Word tool when copying from programs like Pages or Quick Office.
- If you need to download files from the Grade Center, choose to save them to a "collection" (a folder in Blackboard's file system) as a .csv file, then download them from Blackboard.
- If you are going to be using your device on unsecured or untrusted networks, download Cisco’s AnyConnect app and set up VPN to create secure connections to Blackboard and other campus applications. Campus Settings for the app are available at https://help.missouri.edu (search for AnyConnect or VPN).
Never put any kind of FERPA-protected data into Dropbox. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Grade Center Exports
- Student assignments
- Class rosters
Never keep FERPA-protected data on a device that does not have a password, pin, or pattern lock enabled.