Here comes D2L

Professional, spiffy and enlightened are what come to mind if I am to sum up my short experience of using Desire 2 Learn (D2L).

Professional, spiffy and enlightened are what come to mind if I am to sum up my short experience of using Desire 2 Learn (D2L). As a so-termed, “virtual learning environment,” I’ve noticed that it is a bit faster than that dinosaur Blackboard, of which many people complain. So how can we compare these two

No catastrophic events have happened to me personally through D2L, such as it crashing in the middle of an online final at the last minute, freezing while trying to download a haphazardly uploaded file. Can’t say the same for the last system.

And it’s not just students and professors at PSU that have had their frustrations with Blackboard. In fact, it even has its own tag on Twitter—#blackboard. If you search for it, you’ll find a new post every few minutes, likely to be even more during finals and midterm weeks. Blackboard works with over 2,000 institutions in 60 countries, so not only is there a chorus of complaints in English, but also bridges and verses in Spanish and German, making it a cross-cultural aspect of our wired generation.

Blackboard Inc. is a Washington D.C. Company that went public in 2004—a move that D2L, a Canadian company, will inevitably make since it is growing so quickly. D2L has received a $4.25 million grant from the government of Ontario for producing sustainable and innovative jobs to the area, and is expected to expand rapidly.

The less frequent the complaints on Twitter about D2L, the more and more it grows on me. I would only advise those who have a tendency to procrastinate on their online courses that D2L performs a monthly maintenance shutdown on every fourth Sunday. Of course, this is much less malignant than constant crashes and instability like we’re so used to with Blackboard, but something that will undoubtedly cause some frustration.

So D2L is a promising system, although I can’t be certain that it is really that much of a change. My first impression of the new system is that they are both similar in style. So similar, in fact, that Blackboard and D2L have had legal issues in the past, leading up to a federal court case in an attempt to sue D2L for using Blackboard’s patent.

That is to say, even Blackboard admits that D2L is more or less the same. As a step to solve the matter in late 2009, they decided to simply share the patent in question. On the subject, Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard was quoted on Desire2Learn’s own website as saying, “Bringing this matter to resolution is in the best interests of both of our organizations, our respective clients and the broader education community.”

Will changing systems be a cure-all? I doubt it. Maybe a cure-some. These two companies are rivals, Blackboard being the faltering powerhouse and D2L the novice underdog. If D2L has a boost in popularity due to the past system’s failures to produce, then we can expect more problems out of D2L in the future. Especially if it is anything at all like Blackboard.

By providing service to so many institutions, you have to wonder where PSU was on Blackboard’s priority list for fixing bugs. Also consider all the IT nerds out there attempting to tinker with the system to satisfy mostly harmless

hacker-esque curiosities. Of course, we’re no longer in a world known by Hollywood’s Ferris Bueller; these systems ought to be state-of-the-art in efficiency and security. Breaking in and changing grades on either of them is unheard of.

We can only hope for the best, D2L. If you can provide a more dependable program than that of Blackboard, then you are all wool and a yard wide. ?