Desire2Learn (D2L), MSU’s online companion learning site, has undergone many changes in the past two years in an effort to streamline the site and make it more user friendly to students and faculty. Despite their efforts, the site still lacks important features critical to creating a better online learning environment for students.
Although technology is rapidly changing, the additions and changes to this website students use (or should use) daily have been relatively slow. This year, D2L has been changed to try and resemble the Facebook-esque user layout many students are familiar with. While this may seem like a step in the right direction for easier use, there are major differences between the beloved Facebook site and D2L replica.
[pullquote align=”right”]“Despite their efforts, the site still lacks important features critical to creating a better online learning environment for students.”[/pullquote]
Many technology enthusiasts, namely Apple users, have enjoyed cloud data storage software and have integrated calendars, contacts and files across various electronic devices. In an effort to appeal to the changing customer market, Facebook created a way to do the same with their user interface. The ability to download Facebook events and calendars directly into mobile devices is a major benefit to users.
D2L has fallen behind in the mobile market as well as lacking integration possibilities. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are examples of websites that have jumped on the mobile bandwagon. It would be nice to see D2L follow suit. Instead having to log on to D2L through a web link, students should have access to a mobile app that is integrated into their everyday calendar.
It would be interesting to see if the creation of a more integrated D2L would make students more successful in school. If calendars could be downloaded and the creation of events was possible within D2L, students might be more apt to create study group events and keep on top of exams, quizzes and important class dates.
In addition to the mobile issues with the D2L site, students also struggle with lack of consistency in how faculty have chosen to use (or not use) the site. Some professors proclaim they are “too old for the technology” and decide to go strictly off of the syllabus handed out on the first day of class, while some professors use D2L for everything from quizzes and tests to handing in papers and online polls.
If MSU requires students to use D2L as an educational requirement, then it is important to not only create a better site for students to use but also require all faculty learn how to properly utilize the site their students depend on for information and grades. If D2L is truly trying to create a better user experience, then it is critical MSU takes a close look at why some websites excel within their markets and replicate that for students. Students should not be left to struggle with a site that is difficult to use and lacking some basic features that should have already been available.