Blackboard unveiled a free application for the iPhone today to let students check their grades and get updates about their courses at colleges that use the company’s course-management software.
The application, called Blackboard Learn for Apple iPhone, can be found in Apple’s iPhone App Store. Blackboard designed it so it will immediately work with any versions of its software made since 2006. Colleges’ administrators can choose to turn off their Blackboard server’s compatibility with the service if they have concerns about security or other issues.
Students can’t take tests or dig into course content using the iPhone application — the focus of the system is to notify users of when new material is ready for them in the full Web-based version of Blackboard.
The application may have extracurricular uses as well — such as letting a student send a note to a classmate. A “rosters” section lets students communicate with others in their courses.
Several institutions — including Duke University and Stanford University — have created their own iPhone applications that let students check campus bus schedules and access other services from their Apple smartphones.
What about students who bought some other company’s smartphone? Blackboard is considering creating a similar application in the future that would work on BlackBerrys, said Jessica Finnefrock, a senior vice president of product development at Blackboard, in an interview Wednesday. —Jeffrey R. Young