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Recommended Tools for Online Students

As an online student the following FREE online tools are recommended as you engage in online learning.  These tools are designed to enhance online communication and interaction.

Blackboard Connect

Beginning Fall 2011, Blackboard Connect at GRCC provides a wide array of enhancements to Blackboard that improve faculty and student communication through email, text messages, and text-to-voice phone calls (including voicemails for unanswered calls).

Access Bb Connect

To enable access to text messages and text-to-voice messages from instructors using Bb Connect and to opt-in to receive additional course notifications such as new announcements assignments, content items, tests, grades, unread discussions, etc., please follow these steps:

  1. Log in to Blackboard at:
  2. Click the "Mobile Phone Preferences" link from the tools panel to add a mobile number to the system.

A video tutorial is available here and a tip sheet here.


Blackboard IM (Instant Messaging)

Through Blackboard IM (formerly Wimba Pronto), Grand Rapids Community College provides easy and effective instant messaging that can be leveraged for online office hours, tutoring, help desks, meetings, and desktop video conferencing.

Faculty, staff, and students can create an account, download and install the software to easily see who’s online and available so they can instantly communicate and collaborate.

Benefits of Blackboard IM

  • Quickly connect with classmates, staff, and faculty for informal learning and timely ad-hoc meetings.
  • Check availability through presence to find others and interact on demand and live. 
  • Desktop video conferencing and audio provide rich interactions to save a drive to campus or even a visit across campus.
  • An integrated whiteboard can be used for realtime collaboration.
  • Application sharing provides unique abilities to work with students and peers.
  • Queued chat for online office hours provides effective user managment. 
  • Instant access to campus services such as tutoring and help desks.

Access Bb IM

To start using the Blackboard IM tool:

  1. Login to Blackboard at:
  2. Click the Blackboard IM link from the Tools menu in Blackboard and follow the prompts to create an account and download the software.


Blackboard Mobile Learn

NOTICE: Change in licensing coming on September 10, 2012.

Blackboard has changed the licensing of Mobile Learn.  The new "Personal License" option, will be available in mid-September and will allow students and instructors to purchase access to the app on iOS and Android only. End users will be able to choose between two different introductory pricing options: $1.99 per year or a one-time fee of $5.99.

Grand Rapids Community College, through the Blackboard Mobile™ Learn platform provides access to a wide array of mobile apps(including iPhone®, iPod touch®, iPad®, and Android™. BlackBerry®, and Palm® smartphones are currently not supported by Bb Mobile Learn at GRCC) for students and faculty.  These apps enable learning-on-the-go with the ability to:

  • Easily access courses and organizations on a mobile device.
  • Check timely announcements.
  • Access grading information.
  • Participate in discussions, wikis, and blogs.
  • Read course documents and course materials.
  • Create content and upload media as attachments to blogs, journals and discussions 

Access Bb Mobile Learn

To install the mobile apps:

  1. Access the Apple and Android app stores.
  2. Download the Bb Mobile Learn app.  

(Note: This service is only available on Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and Android platforms. If you have a non-supported phone or provider and would be interested in using Bb Mobile Learn, please let us know via the Bb Suggestions Form.  Thank you!)