Bb Mobile Learn Phones Home

We acquired Blackboard Mobile Learn Powerlink version 1.1.9 to solve a problem. Something was done on the Blackboard side before our institution administrators could successfully get to the registration page. This version fixed that issue by doing a registration behind the scenes. Naturally the information it has is wrong, but at least now the institution administrators can change it to the correct information.

Looking to gather logs on an issue, I stumbled across a new-to-me log: vistaMobile.log.

There was a call to a strange URL:

https://mlcs.medu.com/api/ad/html_contents?f=html&registration_id=null&timestamp=2011-05-99THH:MM:SS

What shocked me most was this was an institution where Mobile was not ready for use. By going to the URL, I figured out it was the advertisement image on the course list after Mobile Learn is set up. (I would have the image show up on the blog, but they seem to prevent it from working on my blog. Direct access works. For now? :))

Every user logging into our system by a non-mobile web browser unwittingly connects to Blackboard Mobile Learn servers to download this image. This Powerlink sets this channel on by default. It is a wealth of information on users we were not informed Blackboard would acquire. So we will likely turn off this channel and stress pushing the advocacy for Mobile by other means.

If a user were to click the link on the advertisement, then they would get this URL:

https://mlcs-w2.medu.com/api/ad/detour/?registration_id=null&ad_url=https%3A%2F%2Fblackboard.com%2FPlatforms%2FMobile%2FProducts%2FMobile-Learn.aspx

This has not one or two but THREE marketing campaign products tracking the users. Not intrinsically a bad thing, but it makes me nervous to unknowingly contribute to a marketing campaign operating through my system.