D2L from an Instructional Designer's Point of View
Updated February 25, 2015

D2L from an Instructional Designer's Point of View

Michelle Fisher | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Modules Used

  • We use all of the D2L tools on campus in a variety of courses.

Overall Satisfaction with Desire2Learn

D2L is used as an Learning Management System by the entire PASSHE system. At West Chester University it is used to host online classes. It is also used as a supplement to face-to-face courses (posting reading materials, links to additional information, out of class discussions, etc..) In my role, I design and develop fully online and hybrid courses using D2L. D2L (or any commercial LMS for that matter) allows us to organize students in classes and organize materials into learning modules, assess students online, communicate with students both synchronously and asynchronously online.
  • D2L provides a relatively easy way to create customize course pages. This is helpful as I design custom online courses and can create my own templates.
  • The assessment data is helpful in the quiz area. Faculty members are able to see data for the test as a whole, individual questions, and individual answers. This allows us to make decisions on curriculum and assessment as we review/revise courses.
  • The notification system is helpful for students. Students can subscribe to notifications through the news and receive updates via email or text. They can also subscribe to discussion boards/posts, get notifications via text/email about deadlines, grades, etc... A nice way to stay connected without having to constantly login to the LMS and "check" to see if something is new.
  • I would like the ability to pull all discussion posts for a single user in a class for assessment purposes but this feature appears to have been removed in the recent upgrade to 10.2
  • The WYSIWYG editor is a little messy at times so I often work on the code by hand or in a program like Dreamweaver then copy the code to D2L. This adds time to my work and makes it difficult for faculty to work independently.
  • The new user interface in the Discussion Board area has been a problem for students. It is not as easy to review/read/follow discussion threads as it was in the previous version.
  • It has become more difficult to delete discussion forums and modules in 10.2 - there was a way in previous versions to bulk edit and remove discussions/modules that you were no longer using on one page. You now have to remove one at a time. This is a time consuming process.
  • The user interface design is not at all consistent from tool to tool. It appears that several different design/development teams worked independently. This makes it difficult for the tool to become "intuitive" to faculty users.
  • The rubric tool is a bit rigid and does not allow for a high level of customization (ranges of points and in-line custom comments for students are my biggest complaints)
  • Neutral: D2L has helped us develop brand new online graduate programs. The programs have been successful but I don't believe this is due to D2L - I believe any decent LMS would result in the same outcome.
  • Negative: Our conversion from Blackboard to D2L in 2010 has unfortunately resulted in some faculty members decreasing their use of LMS tools. In the three years since the conversion, I have been able to gradually build up use but we are still lagging. I believe any transition would result in a dip/drop but D2L can be fairly difficult to pick up for faculty so I believe we experienced a bigger and longer drop because of this.
  • Positive: We have been able to use D2L for our accreditation assessments in some of our programs thanks to the statistics available in the assessment area.
I was not part of the organization when D2L was selected so cannot comment on the selection process. I believe Blackboard is more user friendly and intuitive for faculty members. I believe both have very similar tools but D2L's main drawback is the user interface design. Faculty members who are fairly tech savvy do fine with it but still grumble about specific tools/processes. Faculty who are not tech savvy struggle with D2L.
I believe D2L is most helpful as a supplement to face-to-face classes. I run into the most problems/frustrations with highly customized online or hybrid courses. The faculty I work with who teach face-to-face courses and use D2L as a supplement are reasonably happy with it's performance. I have been working with higher-ed LMS's for 13 years now and find that D2L requires a bit more tech skills from faculty than something like Blackboard. I would say it is similar to Moodle and going way back WebCT. If you are tech savvy and don't mind tinkering D2L will work for you. If you have a population of people who are likely to be thrown by inconsistent interface design and some non-intuitive tools then D2L may be problematic.

Using Desire2Learn

It is our Learning Management System that supports both face-to-face courses and online courses. Faculty are using D2L to post course materials for face-to-face courses. Some faculty are using it for asynchronous discussions. Faculty who teach online use most of the features available. On the student side of the organization, students are using D2L to retrieve class materials electronically (syllabi, reading materials, class assignments, etc…), they also use it to check their grades.
I am not on the selection committee for this product's renewal. I do know that D2L is less expensive than Blackboard and that was a deciding factor in the original transition from Blackboard to D2L as was a bad history with Blackboard customer support. The main problem I have with D2L based on my role, is the back-end user interface design. This impacts faculty, instructional designers, and course designers.

Using Desire2Learn

This is based on the back-end users perspective (developers, faculty members, designers). The user interface is completely inconsistent from tool to tool. This makes it difficulty for faculty to learn and for the tools to become intuitive.
Like to use
Not well integrated
Slow to learn
Lots to learn
  • Adding news items.
  • customizing course pages
  • creating randomized assessments
  • deleting content/modules and discussions
Yes - I prefer to use the desktop model on my mobile devices.