To get the fullest use of Blackboard on iOS, instructors will need to have a group of applications. Minimally, instructors will need Blackboard Mobile Learn, Dropbox, and an app for handling file transfers via WebDAV, such as GoodReader or File Browser, or WebDAV-enabled office apps, such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. (The Blackboard web interface is not officially supported by any iOS browser, but we’ve had the best luck with Safari, Opera, and Dolphin.)

Suggested Applications
The following apps are currently recommended for use with iOS devices:

  • The Blackboard Mobile Learn app is recommended for quickly checking content, Discussion Boards, Blogs and Journals. It can also work well for attaching content stored in Dropbox to an Item. (Up to ten files may be attached to an Item in this way and files may be up to 10MB in size). This app is not useful for editing existing content, only creating new content.
  • A web browser (Safari, Opera, or Dolphin are preferred) is recommended for more serious use of Blackboard, including using the Grade Center, creating or editing Blackboard items. Also, a browser is recommended for creating and editing Tests, Surveys, Pools, and SafeAssignments.
  • 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. If you need to access a departmental file server, the campus recommends File Browser.
  • A WebDav app, like GoodReader or Apple’s iWorks apps are recommended for storing and moving files to/from Blackboard's file system via WebDAV. (WebDAV is a method of connecting to a file system via the web.) This bypasses the 10MB upload limit in Bb Mobile Learn. Because this is not cloud-based and has password and encryption features, it is more suitable for FERPA-protected files. (Note: DoIT may not recommend this.) These apps are also useful for moving files downloaded from Blackboard via WebDAV to other servers and computers or moving files between Blackboard and non-WebDAV or Dropbox-enabled applications.

Additional Suggestions
A productivity suite is useful for content creation and editing. Many of these are Dropbox enabled. Others, such as Apple's Pages, Keynote, and Numbers are WebDAV enabled and can communicate directly with the Blackboard file system. QuickOffice is another alternative that supports Word document comments and change tracking, but it is not WebDAV enabled, so you will need a WebDAV application to supplement it.

Tegrity Mobile allows viewing of Tegrity videos. You can record voice and camera (though not the screen) with this app and upload it to Tegrity. At this point, the app is not very robust in handling uploads. It is also theoretically possible to upload other videos from other apps; however, these videos, may not play correctly in the Tegrity app.

Notes on Blackboard Settings

  • Because the Visual Editor tends to cause the page to jump as you type in Safari, we recommend that the Visual Editor be turned off if you are just going to be adding text.
  • Another approach to entering text into Blackboard, is to copy and paste from a word processor such as Pages into the Visual Editor. You may also add images, file attachments, and use various other features of the Visual Editor this way.
  • The Grade Center works best if set to Screen Reader mode.

General Tips

  • In Safari, you may need to tap next to a link to get the menus to appear in content areas. Safari cannot edit Assignments, but Opera and Dolphin can. This appears to be an issue with the way Blackboard has coded their menus.
  • 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), then download them from Blackboard via WebDAV.
  • 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 (search for anyconnect or VPN).

FERPA Considerations
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 an iOS device unless the passcode lock is enabled. The passcode lock is found under Settings > General > Passcode Lock.