Blackboard site charges for students’ devices

Rachel Cross

Having free and accessible tools available on mobile devices is a convenient way for students at Grand Valley State University to check things such as their grades, schedules or student account balance. One service, the Blackboard site, has recently started charging students $1.99 per year for accessing their site through mobile devices.

Sue Korzinek, director of Information Technology, said Blackboard started the charge in September 2012.

“Blackboard is the vendor that controls all of the costs and marketing of the Blackboard application,” Korzinek said. She added that the decision for Blackboard to change its model of access for the mobile application was due to its contract being up.

“Blackboard originally partnered with Sprint and only offered the app for free on just Android phones,” Korzinek said. “Since a lot of people were using these free services, Blackboard didn’t want to give up on creating a new marketing plan.”

She said the mobile app that the company had in the beginning would have cost GVSU $50,000 per year for all students to use it with any cell carrier, and GVSU didn’t have the money to spend on this product.

“We (IT) were having conversations with Blackboard all along, especially in the beginning when they wanted to charge GVSU $50,000,” Korzinek said. “We told them that they needed to come up with a better marketing plan so that all cellular devices can use it, and that’s what came about with their solution to start charging individual students.”

While the Blackboard site charges students for using the app, Korzinek said GVSU IT doesn’t charge for any of its internal mobile apps, which students can find at the app store under myGV.

“We continue to develop applications like grades, schedules, campus dining balances, housing assignments and account balance transactions,” Korzinek said.

In addition, a free service that IT offers is the alert notification system, where students can be notified of closures, announcements, calendar items, assignments and grades.

“IT is always looking for other opportunities to provide free services to students,” Korzinek said.

Students who don’t want to pay $1.99 per year to access Blackboard can also purchase access for $5.99 for life.

Visit to sign up for alert notifications of calendar items, assignment, grades and closures via email and text message.

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