Your Students are Mobile Learners

In this article, I provide some evidence that our students are consuming online course content on their mobile devices, and suggest that we consider this a reality when designing courses.

Blackboard Mobile Learning

Blackboard’s mobile apps have gone through a few iterations over the years. They have recently re-named Bb Student to Blackboard and have built an better instructor app named Blackboard Instructor.

Blackboard instructor announcements Blackboard announcement behind the scenes

For many of us, these apps have just existed in the background; we have chosen to dabble or ignore them. But have you ever wondered the degree to which our learning community is consuming course content via mobile access?


Our Learning Community

Here are some statistics on the use of Blackboard mobile apps during the 2016-17 academic year at The College of Saint Rose:

  • More than 286,000 mobile logins, with the majority using iOS:
    33483 using Android and 252704 using iOS
  • Daily logins increase over the course of each semester and peak at the end of each semester, with the highest volume on December 16, 2016 (2,820 logins that day).
  • Logins decline as the weekend approaches:
    chart of weekday logins for the last year. Monday has the highest number and it declines throughout the week
  • Average daily logins peak at mid-day, with considerable activity lasting late into the evening:
    Chart showing number of logins for each hour of the day.


Further, I offer some data from the 2017 Student Technology Survey, administered by the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, which allows us to benchmark our undergraduate students against other institutions. I highlight the following as further evidence that mobile learning is a reality:

  • 78% of Saint Rose respondents feel that their smartphone is moderately, very, or extremely important to their academic success (76% for all U.S. institutions).
    Pie chart representing perceptions of smart phone contributing to academic success
  • 79% of Saint Rose respondents prefer a learning environment that includes some online component (81% for all U.S. institutions).
    Pie chart representing student preference of online learning


For Saint Rose, the number of apparent mobile learners may come as a surprise. A Google search for college student mobile learning trends or smartphone vs. desktop computer ownership will produce a great deal of evidence that mobile technology is increasingly ubiquitous in the lives of college students. In fact, more college students own smartphones than traditional computers. This is how many of today’s learners consume content – including academic content. In a future article I will more deeply evaluate Saint Rose student perceptions of technology as part of their learning environment, as benchmarked against other institutions.

Many of our students expect to use mobile apps to access content, participate in discussions, submit assignments, and view grades on a daily basis. What will they find when they get there?

For now, faculty may wish to consider how they can build mobile learning (m-learning) into their course design – whether for an online course or simply as a supplement to a face-to-face course. Others may wish to explore how the traditional Blackboard experience presents differently on mobile, and what implications you should be aware of. For example, what are the implications of push notifications that students can elect to receive from your course?

In another article, we provide introductory resources on how to design a mobile-friendly Blackboard course as well as a glimpse into the student experience on mobile. Further, we’ve listed other apps associated with learning tools that we support.

As always, ITS Online Learning Services is available to partner with you in your exploration of mobile learning. Let’s chat!