Article by Abreham Arehart & Brianna Gerber
On January 11, 2012, HACC launched its new online course system processor. No more freezing, glitches, or annoying browser check popups. The spring semester includes a significant improvement to HACC’s virtual campus. D2L or, Desire to Learn, isn’t only faster and more capable of handling documents, but it includes an instant messenger system and a “web app” version for smartphones. Though it still operates on Java, D2L allows students to view multiple PDF’s at a time, and it comes equipped with a reliable email and messaging system.
A team including administrators, students and faculty, chose D2L from some twenty other content managment systems. This process took place over a three to four month period. Features were compared and surveys were taken to determine what seemed to be the newest and most improved processing system for HACC. Where the old WebCT Blackboard proved to be an outdated system, incompatible with modern browsers, D2L beat the competition.
Andre Warner, director of Instructional Technology and User Support for H.A.C.C’s virtual campus, is essentially responsible for managing and making D2L run with the HACC student information system. He explained it this way.” It (D2L) is also hosted out…The old system was hosted internally, and this is one of the requirements, that we look at a company that could actually host the system outside of HACC for us. In the old system, everything came back to HACC’s main campus in Harrisburg because that’s where the system actually lived.” Andre explained that, because D2L lives off campus, it creates greater ease and speed of use for students. This takes care of some of the problems H.A.C.C experienced with the old version of WebCT. Andre Warner reported, “It (D2L) has been running very, very, well. We are very pleased. We had our launch on Wednesday, and it went very smoothly. On Thursday we had over 2,000 users on the system and we’ve not had any reports of performance issues, which we frequently had with the old system at peak times, like at the beginning of the semester.” Despite the vast improvements, the implementation has not been faultless. In a recent email from Andre Warner to school faculty, he acknowledges issues with the new system, including “sporadic reports of some users not being able to access D2L.” He goes on to say that these results have been addressed. Yet a larger issue still remains in its violation of federal law.
On January 20, Ronald Young, the vice president of Academic Affairs, sent an e-mail to faculty stating that the new D2L system was in violation of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) by publicly displaying the HACC ID numbers of students. Federal regulation prohibits the display of personal numbers that could enable access to a student’s academic records, such as a social security number or HACC ID. At print, the IT staff is still working with D2L to come to a resolution.
There are multiple ways to access D2L. For the fastest way to connect, go to, www.ehacc.hacc.edu. If a student feels lost in the new program, a D2L tutorial can be viewed after logging in and clicking on the link, “D2L student orientation,” under, “My Courses.” This 30 minute tutorial includes a check list, overview module, and offers an orientation quiz, helpful for familiarizing any student interested with all the benefits of D2L.For more information go directly to www.hacc.edu/d2l. This site provides links, one for faculty and one for students, to “frequently asked questions,” that may provide further assistance. With the new spring schedule beginning some students and faculty have reported that they haven’t had a chance to explore the new content managing system yet. Some students aren’t aware we’ve switched from WebCT to D2L. Those required to are just getting into the new system, and many of those not required are simply focusing on adjusting to new schedules.
Clark Newswanger, a student at Lancaster campus, familiar with many computer processing systems said, “Well to be honest, I haven’t touched it (D2L) yet, though I am sure I will need to soon. I remain positive and believe that anything will be an improvement over the old system.” Another student, Breanna Witmer from Lancaster campus said, “I think the new program will be very helpful and less hassle when submitting online assignments.” It seems apparent that, for those familiar with the old processing system, D2L is a welcome, and so far, reliable change.