Blackboard CourseSites – Free, Hosted, and Supported Courses

Just announced today [press release], Blackboard is now offering a free, hosted, and supported version of their latest version 9.1 release.

To create an account for yourself, visit: http://www.coursesites.com

Here are a few highlights and details:

  • Free
  • Hosted
  • Support for Faculty and Students – The hours of support are: Monday – Friday 8AM to 8PM EST and Saturday – Sunday 9AM to 5PM EST with tickets, knowledgebase, live chat, and phone.
  • 500 MB of storage per course
  • OpenID – Create a CourseSites account with your existing Facebook, Twitter, WindowsLive, Yahoo, or Google account.
  • 5 available courses at a time per instructor
  • No student enrollment limit

Here are a few of the innovative features included in this new offering:

  • Getting Started Course Wizard (with Templates) – The getting started wizard helps new users while the pre-structured course templates help the instructor get started quickly with course design, menu, and content areas.
     

  • Course Design Schemes
  • Instructor Home Page (with clean URL and blog)
  • Clean Course URLs
  • Student Invitation Tool
  • Access to SoftChalk, Wimba Pronto (Instant Messaging), Wimba Voice Tools, Elluminate, Respondus
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Learning on-the-go with Blackboard Mobile Learn

Blackboard’s purchase of Terriblyclever Design LLC last July communicated the importance of mobile learning across the LMS scene.  No more really a “nice to have” feature, mobility has become exceedingly important.

The Blackboard Mobile Learn application is extremely impressive and is supported across Palm, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and Android platforms.  However, for access to all platforms beyond the Sprint network and beyond wifi only, there is a cost.

The radical user interface design is a huge giant leap forward when compared with other mobile applications related to LMSs.  Also of note is the 2 way functionality that users have come to expect when using mobile applications.

Here are a few of the innovative highlights of the Blackboard Mobile Learn application:

  • A dashboard that provides quick updates of the latest events in courses.
  • Ability to view and post an new announcement.
  • Easy access to read and reply to a discussion board post.
  • Ability to start or mark complete course tasks.
  • Access and comment on blogs, journals, and wikis.
  • Quick access to view grades (as a student).
  • Impressive ability to manage and “dock” multiple windows.
  • Built-in mobile web browsing to access websites and areas of the Bb application that are not web-enabled at this point.
  • Native viewing of Powerpoint, Word documents, video (if compatible with iPad aka non-Flash), and PDFs without leaving the app.
  • Ability to add files and attachments (based on compatibility aka iPad/iPhone only supports images and video) from the mobile device and upload them to Blackboard.

Here is a gallery of images of the interface on the iPad: