Originally published on the Blackboard Mobile Blog

At EDUCAUSE today, we highlighted our completely redesigned Mobile Learn app, available now on iOS and Android. For this redesign, we went back to the drawing board, looking at feedback from students, teachers, and instructional designers. In addition, we incorporated evolving design paradigms and our app analytics to design an experience that makes using the app even more intuitive, simple and fun.

“First and foremost the Mobile Learn experience is about reading, so the new user interface is much cleaner and simpler,” says the lead designer on Mobile Learn 4.0, Tyler Hansen. “The cork board and general skeuomorphism of the previous design didn’t make reading easier, in fact in some cases it made it more difficult. After all, mobile is designed and mainly used for content consumption.”

Not to say we didn’t like the old design, it’s just time for Mobile Learn to grow up a bit. “It can now be taken a little more seriously than before, though it hasn’t lost all of its fun.” Tyler notes that the team has engineered lots of cool animations and transitions that are rooted in fun user experience rather than mimicking analog metaphors (sticky notes and chalkboards) to lighten the app experience.

Mobile Learn now offers a more personal experience for our users. You can now rename your courses (who calls their course ECON-104-SEC-45 anyways?), reorder them, hide ones you never use on your phone (maybe courses from last year), and even associate a color label to a course so that every piece of new content in the app will correspond to its specific course.

Updating an app with as many users as ours was not an easy task and we went through countless design revisions. We explored different navigation paradigms, varying color schemes, and lots of user interfaces.

After months of work we’re incredibly proud of the app we’ve put in the hands of our users. After some time in the wild we’re seeing some awesome feedback on Twitter, in the App Store and Google Play.

It’s no casual affair to re-imagine a product you work on every day and it’s incredibly stressful to await the response of your users. It takes a lot more people than you might think to make an app like this a reality— you have device engineers working on the iOS and Android code, back-end engineers who tie it all into the school’s Blackboard Learn system, an incredible QA team to make sure there are no issues or bugs, an End User support team who work with users to help troubleshoot issues and collect their feedback, a design team who focuses on UI and UX, a marketing team to spread the word, and of course a product management team. All these people worked together over the last year to make this app a reality and help millions of students in their pursuit of education.

It’s always mind blowing to realize how many people rely on the technology we build— in only its first day live, we saw 1.1 million sessions in the redesigned Mobile Learn. It’s magical to see the immediate response from students, teachers and institutions and we’re excited to incorporate the resulting feedback into upcoming versions of our apps. Thanks again, have a great school year, and enjoy the new Mobile Learn!

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  • Darcy

    I use Blackboard Mobile all the time at school. I’m glad that there is an updated version – I just bought a Surface Pro, and the one thing that is making me consider returning it is that Blackboard 1) looks horrible in the web interface, and 2) is not available as a mobile app for windows. Are there any plans to release a Windows app of Mobile Learn?