In the past week, UNBSJ’s learning platform Desire2Learn (D2L) experienced outages that left many students unable to access their course information.
When UNB’s previous online learning platform, Blackboard, announced that it would be discontinuing its service by August of this year, a committee set out to find a replacement. D2L was chosen and it underwent a pilot program testing phase before it was officially launched in May 2012.
The launch of D2L gave students and faculty the ability to record and broadcast lectures, survey students, access course information via a mobile device and
fulfil other academic needs, all on a Canadian platform.
However, that service was interrupted for a few days at the end of last month. D2L service was very slow for some users and not working at all for others on Jan. 29. UNB issued a notice to students about the service interruption and estimated that the problem would be fixed by Jan. 30 at 7 p.m., however, D2L was still down for emergency maintenance on Jan. 31. Students were unable to access any course material or download any files until 10 pm, and many students experienced slow service for days afterward.
First year students Samantha Totten and Kayla Buckley-Warnock personally experienced the outage when they were prevented from taking an online test for their economics class. “The D2L outage prevented me from taking [the test] when I was ready to, during the time I had set aside for it,” Totten says. However, the economics professor was understanding and sent out a number of e-mail notifications and rescheduled the test. Unlike many students who are on a tight schedule, Totten and Buckley-Warnock were understanding about the outage, despite not being able to access a service that they had paid for. “It didn’t really fase(sic) me that it didn’t work as it simply prolonged when I could complete the quiz
In a press release issued on Feb. 1, Desire2Learn
`s president, John Baker, apologized for interruptions in service, experienced by one in four of its users. “Digital technologies are now integral to [students’] learning , and when technology fails the frustration is immediate,” he says. Baker urges users not to lose confidence in the D2L software.
“We have to work to rebuild your confidence in our systems. It is a goal which I believe we can achieve. I pledge to you that we will amplify our efforts to provide the world’s most effective and reliable learning software,” he says.
Mary Astorino, UNBSJ’s instructional technology consultant, was not available for comment.