The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

73° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    D2L: ‘desire to learn’ or drag to learn?

    By now, you’ve probably been introduced to an online site called D2L (short for “”desire to learn””), a tool for supplemental education that is also used for quizzes, putting up grades for your class assignments and providing links to relevant articles or movie/TV clips.

    In this age of information being processed at lightning speeds (or slow as a slug, depending on your connection), it’s hardly surprising that the education world would gravitate more towards using the Internet as a classroom tool. There is a concern, however, that too much faith is put in these systems working properly – and if they don’t, as is sometimes the case, it can be just another added source of stress for students and faculty. Such a reliance on technology also assumes that the user has a readily-available internet connection to spend a certain amount of time to look up assignments, do quizzes and look through articles, which isn’t always the case for some students. If not, one might have to rely on the ever-crowding computer lab, which, especially during midterms and finals, can turn into an Olympic event: the 100-yard dash to take over the computer from which someone just got up.

    D2Ljust recently made the news when it was sued by another educational behemoth, Blackboard Inc., for patent violation, a case that is still under review, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. A brief scroll through the comments on the article reveals less than flattering reviews about these educational software systems, which is hardly surprising, given the number of gripes already heard about D2L itself.

    Perhaps part of the problem is relying on D2L for a bulk of the material for a certain class. For one course that I took, a ton of film and TV clips were put on the site, none of which worked for most of the students, and which caused delays in getting through the main course material. It sure does save paper, though.

    It seems that D2L may be better suited for putting up the course syllabus, quizzes, basic content and not much else. Journalism professor Kim Newton says that he uses it for posting content and for administering quizzes, both of which he finds very useful. Janna Schaeffer, a doctoral student and graduate associate teaching German studies, had issues when the D2L site for her German class took a week to get up and running.

    I have really never had any problems with D2L in previous semesters and have been using it since they have introduced it, Schaeffer said. Usually they would have the website up and running within a day or two. This year, however, it seems that many departments made it obligatory for their faculty members and TAs to actually have a D2L website, which explains the backlog and the week long delay. Schaeffer opines that it would have been better if, due to an increase in demand, more people were hired to work on the creation of the websites in the beginning of the semester.

    “”I have sent numerous e-mails and made many calls before my website was actually up,”” Schaeffer said. “”It took D2L support literally five minutes to create the website after the last call that I placed, which leads me to believe that it is not the question of task complexity but rather of limited resources.””

    Dr. Kevin R. Kemper, assistant professor in the department of journalism, points out that although D2L isn’t perfect, there is a strong team to ensure it doesn’t fail. “”D2L is a nice place to save and communicate information,”” Kemper said. “”There are great support staff members on campus, like Gretchen Gibbs, Mark Felix and Rachel Aguilar. The staff works really hard to make it work great.””

    Although he has been satisfied with D2L, Kemper says it is not without its faults. “”D2L for Macs is kinda cranky, so sometimes that’s a pain, but the D2L staff is always good to solve the issues,”” Kemper said. “”I don’t know how much of a time-saver it is, but it helps me stay organized. D2L is what the UA has and I try to make the best use of it.””

    The problem with using online tools is that working hand-in-hand with technology can be a risky business sometimes – it’s essential to life in the twenty-first century, but at the same time it can’t define it, and as D2L proves, it’s more of a headache than it’s worth. I don’t want an eTeacher in an iClassroom. I want something real.

    – Matt Wavrin is a media arts senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search