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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “D2L to add text messages, e-portfolio in future”

    Students may some day be able to receive text messages containing their homework assignments, one of many new features Desire to Learn, or D2L, specialists are working on for the future.

    Three major upgrades are coming between next semester and two years from now, said Jim Austin, the UA director of learning technologies.

    “”We have talked about several things: the ability to receive notices of assignments via text messages, a scheduler and an e-portfolio,”” Austin said.

    D2L is a Web-based course management system for students. More than 2,000 UA courses use the D2L site.

    Student response to text messaging reminders from D2L is mixed.

    Rachel Brod, an undeclared freshman, said the text messages are a good idea.

    “”My phone is always on me, and sometimes I have a hard time remembering to check D2L,”” Brod said.

    However, Ilianna Ceniceros, a junior in high school currently taking dual credits at the UA, said the idea isn’t worth the effort.

    “”If a student needs to be texted to remind them of assignments, then they aren’t being responsible for their schooling,”” said Ceniceros. “”Take responsibility, get to a computer and check for yourself what you need to get done.””

    Although feelings are mixed, it will be between one and two years before this feature will be implemented on campus.

    Jeff Stewart, a pre-education freshman, said he was interested in a type of “”my assignments”” folder in D2L to help organize the site.

    “”It takes a long time to find stuff,”” said Stewart. “”If there was a ‘my assignments’ section that had all your assignments from each of your classes, it would really make things easier.””

    The “”schedule”” function will do just that, according to Austin.

    “”It is going to be an aggregator,”” Austin said. “”When you log into D2L, it will be the main login page and it will have upcoming assignments and quizzes for all classes in one spot.””

    While this feature is a much nearer reality, Mark Felix, a support specialist for learning technologies, said he thought it was not ready for unveiling this fall, so students will have to wait until spring to see it.

    “”There were too many untested parts with it,”” said Felix. “”We were not comfortable to roll it out yet.””

    The final new addition is the creation of an “”e-portfolio,”” which is a program that tracks learning objectives and curriculum in courses.

    “”It is something that students can take to potential employers, and when they ask, ‘how are you at calculating the strength of a dam?’ or whatever, the student can bring out this e-portfolio and show them that here is the proof from the UA that I am very good at that,”” said Austin.

    Austin said the e-portfolio is something the students can have “”beyond the diploma.””

    One feature of D2L that Austin said he believes is underused is the “”storage locker.””

    “”It is something where students can be working on an assignment, and if they aren’t done, but need to leave, they can put it into the locker instead of the dropbox. Then they can open it again from anywhere on or off campus and it will be there waiting for them,”” said Austin.

    The D2L site had a rocky start this semester, with complaints of slowness, excess downtime and overall usage problems, but many of those were addressed and are taken care of now, according to site specialists.

    However, students said they still have help-related questions and problems with the site.

    For all those issues, students can log onto www.help.d2l.Arizona.edu, which contains text-description help pages, interactive video help and PDFs for download. Students can also go to any computer lab on campus and Office of Student Computing Resources representatives are there to help with issues.

    Students with other inquiries can e-mail the specialists at D2L@email.arizona.edu.

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