Today's students are increasingly reliant on mobile devices to communicate and manage their lives, and many educational institutions are looking for ways to use mobility to attract and engage students.
To help support them, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) announced a partnership to turn the "everywhere" mobile device into an anytime learning option. The two companies will offer Blackboard Mobile Learn -- a new application from Blackboard that will let students learn when and where they want -- to users of Sprint devices at no additional cost to institutions.
The application will recreate and enrich the course experience of Blackboard Learn, the leading Web-based teaching and learning platform, in native applications for a range of devices. With it, millions of students who log into their Blackboard accounts each day will be able to tap into mobile learning opportunities by checking grades and assignments, adding comments to discussion boards, e-mailing instructors and classmates and posting comments to blogs -- all from their mobile devices.
"Campuses are seeing increased demand from students and faculty who want to do more on their mobile devices," said Michael L. Chasen, Blackboard's president and CEO. "By partnering with Sprint we're making it easy for clients to get started fast, without having to worry about startup costs that might otherwise delay progress in this important area."
Research indicates that the need for a mobile learning platform is taking place rapidly, and Blackboard has received encouraging feedback on its plans for Blackboard Mobile Learn, which will be available to Sprint customers on select devices -- at no charge to universities -- as well as a wider range of smartphones and Wi-Fi devices in June.
"Learning is a deeply personal act and the better the experience the better the results," said Danny Bowman, president of Integrated Solutions at Sprint. "Together, powered by a dependable 3G network and rapidly expanding 4G network, Sprint and Blackboard are leading a new era of innovative mobile learning where student experiences are relevant, reliable and engaging."
The recently released National Broadband Plan made recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission to improve education in the United States by supporting and promoting online learning through the expansion of broadband technology.
"Innovative mobile technology and resources are keystones to improving the education of America's students and ensuring our growing workforce is adequately prepared to enter future industries," Bowman added. "Sprint hopes this new partnership with Blackboard will serve as a positive step and template for continued efforts to make online learning accessible inside and outside the classroom."
As part of the partnership, Sprint will also launch a comprehensive campus awareness campaign, including an outreach toolkit that participating clients can use to spread the word on Blackboard Mobile Learn, Sprint's device portfolio and discounted plans at their institution.
Blackboard Mobile Learn will be available initially for U.S. and Puerto Rico higher education and professional education clients on Blackboard Learn Releases 8, 9 and higher. Details on availability for K-12 and international markets, as well as for previous versions of Blackboard Learn and the WebCT and ANGEL platforms, will follow.