D2L does the job
March 12, 2018
D2L does the job
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Desire2Learn
D2L is being used by the entire state university system. It has been, as I understand it, since 2010. The decision was made by the system regents to switch to Canvas by 2020, and I will be among the "early adopters". D2L is used as an option to support any and all courses taught anywhere in the UW system. Many instructors choose to use nothing. Some opt to use Blackboard, as that was what was used before D2L came on board, but without updates. I came in 2012 and have used D2L exclusively so far at this institution, Blackboard at others.
- The grade book is very customizable. There is a learning curve, as there always is if something is flexible, but there are a lot of good options available for grading, displaying grades, and calculation of grades.
- Adding course content of many types can easily be done using drag & drop or copy-paste. It is easy to retain stored content from semester to semester. Updating an item takes three clicks. It is easy to organize and reorganize content and allows sub-sections. It records whether individual students have opened material and how much time they spent using an item.
- I like the flexibility of organizing the dropbox for student submissions. Deadlines in the dropbox or discussions automatically appear in the course calendar.
- I like the range of quiz question options, in particular, the "multi-select" question type.
- D2L should find a way to allow markup of student writing directly in the review panel of the dropbox. Blackboard and Canvas do this.
- When you set the number of points an item is worth in the dropbox, it doesn't carry this value over into the grade book automatically, which means you have to be careful to enter the same information in two different interfaces.
- The rubric function needs a wider range of options. It should be possible to upload rubrics from external files and make them usable within D2L.
- The discussions are hard to reorganize. Grading discussions using a rubric is not possible inside D2L, as far as I know.
- When using the Record audio function to provide student feedback, the audio quality is too poor to be used in many situations.
- I can't speak to ROI, since I don't know what it costs. Having an LMS in today's university instruction setting is a must.
- Blackboard Learn
I have used Blackboard Learn 8 and 9. I am currently learning about Canvas. Blackboard is overall much clunkier and lacks the intuitive feel in some parts of D2L. Its grade book is much harder to control and manipulate than D2L's. Its navigation menu can be more radically modified from the default than D2L's, but this doesn't seem that useful to me. Discussions in Blackboard can be more easily reorganized than in D2L, but no grading of discussions is possible. Blackboard Assignments is a good innovation which allows markup directly in the students' submissions, but it displays student work in a confusing manner that doesn't allow for any customization, and its markup options need further tweaking. Furthermore, no rubrics can be used in Blackboard in any way to grade any kind of work (that I am aware of). Overall, I would choose D2L over Blackboard.
From my experience, D2L is useful for most college courses, from those that are lecture-based to small, collaborative classes. There are individual features that require workarounds here and there, but with a couple of semesters' experience, it is entirely functional. I suppose there are people who find using any LMS challenging, and that would then include D2L, but otherwise, I can't say that D2L would not be appropriate for any institution of higher learning.