D2L, or Desire to Learn, is an online web service at Wilkes University that allows teachers to interact with their students online. If you have not used it yet, allow us to explain it.
The service is hosted on a website that allows professors to post lessons, documents, syllabi, power points, pictures and more for students to download.
Professors can post assignments to be handed in digitally, and put assignments and future quizzes on a calendar so that students can have a heads up on what is coming up next.
Grades are posted and are kept in an organized manner for students to view at any time and assess their overall grade.
This sounds like a great system, and in theory it is. It has all the necessary tools in place to bridge the gap between technology integrated students and their busy schedules, and help organize work for their professors.
And yet this system isn’t used or utilized by all of the faculty here at Wilkes, and for some professors and students it causes more headaches and trouble than making life easier.
Common problems and complaints with the system tend to be that the website as a whole is buggy, and that not every professor is competent with the system, which can lead to assignments not obtained on time, grading messed up, work lost and even inaccurate information put on the calendar.
The Beacon believes that D2L has been a very useful tool. It can be used as a temporary storage place for files, to keep up on what assignments are next, and to check how my grades are.
Those of us who have used it have never had a problem with assignments not making it in on time, nor have we ever had trouble logging into the website unless there was a downtime for the website scheduled. These downtimes are typically emailed to our Wilkes emails.
Perhaps it’s different for other departments and professors who use the system, but thus far we have not had any troubles.
The Beacon realize that not everyone feels the same, so what can we do to fix this? There is a lot of potential here that both students and professors are missing out on. We propose a few initiatives to help bring this resource to light.
The first is that we introduce it to our freshmen the same way we introduce the Wilkes online portal, mywilkes. But don’t show them it in a onetime viewing that they will forget about 10 minutes after they walk through the door. Incorporate it as an essential tool for them to know, and teach them the in’s and out’s of it.
Second, highly encourage, but do not force, professors to learn and use the technology. Even if it’s simply for the use of organization on the calendar, or a listing of the grades a student has obtained.
If more professors become comfortable with the website and program, the more beneficial it will be for students and even future professors who can inform their colleagues on how to work the website.
Third, have a way for students and professors to send bug reports (errors) or even suggestions for improving the website. When you have a resource powerful enough to make the student-professor connection stronger, the fastest way to improve it is to keep an open forum between the developers and maintainers of that website, and the users who have to access it everyday.
But we could even take it a huge step forward and actually innovate. Integrate the MyWilkes website and combine it with the D2L website. And don’t just merge them together, have an entire structural overhaul. Mywilkes.edu is an ugly website. It serves its purpose, but it could be much more appealing and easier to navigate.
If you plan a merge smartly with the D2L website, you would have a one stop place for students to access everything from school work to grades to financial account summaries to email. Consider it an online folder with every resource readily available to the student.
As with any technology-based resource, no matter how old or new, problems are sure to arise and people will react negatively to change.
The Beacon believes that the Wilkes community should take a second look at making this useful tool relevant in the day-to-day studies of its students and faculty.