Some thoughts on changes to the Blackboard Mobile Learn pricing model
I’ve discussed before why I see Blackboard as a necessary evil on my campus. Because I spend a large portion of my work-time helping faculty to use this tool (among others) in their classroom, I think a lot about Blackboard. Maybe too much…
Just weeks ago, Blackboard announced that the free Mobile Learn app for their software would no longer be free. They announced this just weeks before it would go into effect. For those of you not familiar with university budgets….they are established more than a year in advance and a change in pricing for enterprise-level software can have a huge impact on an institution’s budget.
Blackboard…this is just one more reason why you have a bad name among administrators–this “surprise” puts us in the difficult position of scrambling to compensate for an unplanned expense in what is an already-tight period for most academic institutions…
They are offering two pricing models for this change to the Mobile Learn app. One is to have users (i.e. students and faculty) pay for the app themselves. The app will cost users $1.99/yr or $5.99/for a lifetime license (although it is not clear if this lifetime license will transfer to new institutions if they student or faculty-member changes schools–I suspect not). Or the university can choose to buy an annual sitewide license for the Mobile Learn app. The price quoted for our small university for a year of campus Mobile Learn license is more than $20,000 (and of course that’s in addition to the amount that we pay for the regular Blackboard Learn software). That the pricetag of the license in so steep and that the lead-time for making the decision so brief, means that most campuses will not choose the license option but will make their users pay for the Mobile Learn app.
We’re now considering workarounds for the two (undesirable) Mobile Learn app payment options on our campus–perhaps offering a $2 iTunes gift card to those who want the app, or some similar method of reimbursement. Because it doesn’t make sense to put the burden for paying for the app on our affiliates, yet the cost is so high that a site license is hardly warranted for the number of users that we serve.