Most students have had experience by now with Desire To Learn, or D2L, the online learning portal. It allows students to take classes completely online, and offers professors a way to add extra content for their students as well as post grades, Notes, articles, Syllubi, and various other materials. Some classrooms utilize i-clickers, or little remote devices that allow you to interact during class via quizzes and surveys.
All of that data can also be stored and analyzed via D2L. Students can now get their grades right away for quizzes and exams, as well as receive critiques, and participate in discussions with the rest of their class via the discussion forums. Why then, do not all professors take advantage of this fabulous new technology?
As an art student, I can usually only find 2, or 3 of my classes even listed on D2L. That is only half of my number of classes per semester. Some Professors claim they have too many students to be able to possibly have time to utilize the online portal. Others, have openly admitted they are not technologically inclined enough to spend hours trying to figure out the interface. These are two possibly valid arguments, however, playing devils advocate, I find it hard to believe that using D2L for quizzes and exams would not make their lives easier as far as grading. It puts them in for you! For other various assignments, there are many tools and tutorials to help you put everything in manually. So what really is the issue here?
Sure, there can be some cons to using the online system such as, internet connectivity issues, D2L maintenance periods, server issues, browser crashes, and so on, but they are few and far between. As long as you are smart about the way you are using it, and do some research on what browsers work best, or when the schedules maintenance days are, you should be good to go. Some things I usually have to remind myself include, using firefox, saving after every question, and making sure I leave enough time for problems when navigating the site, or taking a test. There are also various little get-togethers the library and tech people advertise to teach students and faculty how to use D2L to its full potential. I hate to say it, but if we have to use it, why don’t they have to?
Don’t get me wrong, the online portions of some classes can be a real drag, but it makes up for it in that I can check my grades almost immediately and not be anxious for weeks wondering how I did on an exam or project. Having Notes and materials available online also helps my studying efforts immensely. Instead of scrambling to take notes during class and missing almost the whole lecture, I can pay attention and actually learn the material the first time around. Having the quizzes and tests online, also takes away that in class anxiety I get when people are finishing early and leaving. For some exams I do not even have to attend class. I can take them in my pajamas if I really wanted to.
All in all I believe that this new technology that has been presented to us is being extremely under-used, and we need to take steps to ensure that Professors are taking advantage of it to benefit both themselves, and their students. If we keep giving that little push in the right direction, others will follow. It will take some time to get some of them used to it, but in the end, it will create a whole new world of possibilities and cut down on their time slaving over papers hand grading them.