Over the last few years student use of various social networking sites and mobile technologies has grown exponentially. Realizing that students spend countless hours on Facebook, many organizations and educational institutions have started to seek ways of creating their own presence on social networks in an attempt to make relevant educational information more readily available to students in the environment they are already familiar with.
NIU has recently enabled access to the Blackboard Synch platform that attempts to help students “bridge their social and academic lives, as well as leverage those social interactions that are already occurring for social learning” (http://wiki.blackboardsync.com/). Blackboard Sync consists of two applications that enable students to receive pertinent Blackboard course updates through the use of a social network or a mobile device.
Blackboard Learn for the Facebook Platform application allows students to receive Blackboard course notifications and updates in Facebook. Students can see if there has been any new information posted in their Blackboard courses in the Announcements, Course Content areas, Discussion Board, Scholar, and even Grades.
Additionally, Blackboard Learn for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch application allows students to retrieve similar kind of Blackboard course information in their iPhone or iPod Touch mobile devices.
The Blackboard Sync platform is primarily targeted at students. As Blackboard puts it, “It delivers course updates and information conveniently through the student’s Facebook account or to their iPhone so that they can stay on top of their studies without having to login to their Blackboard account.”
Faculty members do not have to install the applications. If students have Blackboard Learn installed on their Facebook accounts or on the iPhone or iPod Touch mobile devices and a faculty member posts an update to the Blackboard course he or she is teaching, the students, who are enrolled into the course and who have chosen to install the applications, will be able to see the updates from either their Facebook account or on the mobile devices.
The installation of the Blackboard Learn applications should be initiated by users from the NIU Blackboard Login page. The users will be prompted to login to their Blackboard and Facebook accounts to install the application. This is done to ensure that information is exchanged securely and that users are properly authenticated.
To install Blackboard Learn applications, follow these simple steps:
- Log in to Blackboard at NIU (http://webcourses.niu.edu).
- Click on the Blackboard Sync link in the Tools module.
- Select to install either Blackboard Learn for Facebook or Blackboard Learn for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.
To learn more about the Blackboard Sync platform and it applications, please visit the wiki page developed by Blackboard at http://wiki.blackboardsync.com/display/SYNC/Home.