A post from Jessica Finnefrock, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Blackboard.

I am incredibly excited today because it marks the launch of our new Blackboard Learn for Apple® iPhone™ and iPod® touch application (it's available as a *free* download from the Apple® iTunes® App store). 

So why am I so excited?

Primarily because of what this means for students. One of the great things we've done as part of our Project NG work is reach out to hear more student feedback. And in these student focus groups we've heard consistently that their #1 priority for us is to help them manage their time in Blackboard more effectively. One great example is the story of a student I met in Georgia. She works full-time and takes classes part-time. She prefers to access her assignments at the office so she can use the work printer. But she works in a cubicle and is always anxious that her boss will walk behind her when she's in Blackboard looking to see if the assignment is posted. Her request? Give her tools to improve the risk/reward benefit. We listened.

With our new notifications features in Blackboard Learn, Release 9.0 and this new application for the iPhone/iPod touch devices, this hard-working student has the ability to get an email telling her that the assignment has been posted or she can check out her iPhone/iPod touch during a break and confirm that the material is up in Blackboard.

More broadly, I am excited about this new iPhone/iPod touch capability because this is just one of a whole class of tools that shows Blackboard's commitment to innovation and our desire to stay relevant to the ever-changing end-user population. One class of end-users is the group of "digital native" high school students and college students coming directly from high school. These users are highly device-oriented and spend a lot of time sending text messages and using the Facebook® platform. Another group of end-users is the working (full- or part-time) learner who has returned to college after some time away. These users tend to be under increased pressure to manage their time effectively (often juggling work, school and family commitments). The consistent thread for all of them? None want to be in Blackboard itself 24/7 — they want Blackboard to come to them so they know when it's relevant to get into Blackboard and get to work.

We now have an application for the Facebook platform, this new iPhone/iPod touch application, email notifications (event triggered or as daily digests) and are currently developing SMS capabilities. We'll continue to innovate in this area, so if you have any suggestions about where we should direct our focus (Blackberry application?), I'd love to hear from you: jessica.finnefrock at blackboard.com. 

For more information, check out the following:

iPhone is a trademark and Apple, iPod touch and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.  

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