Desire2Learn or Desire2 Tear My Hair Out?

            When it comes to technology, I have never been the one people seek out for advice.  Typically the one seeking advice is me, cringing at the common counsel, “It’s easy! Just click here and you’ll get right in.”  It just never ends up quite that simple.  

            This term, PSU switched our online classroom program from Blackboard to Desire2Learn (D2L).  Changes of this nature can often cause upheaval but the transition was relatively smooth.  I took a moment to ask Professor Kennamer what he thought of the new program and he seemed to take to it with ease.  He particularly expressed his approval of it compared with Blackboard.  However, my capstone instructor, Heather Petzold, told me she thought Blackboard might have been more intuitive than D2L, but she is “easing her way into it.”  She also noted her need to seek more guidance with the new program compared to Blackboard. 

            After hearing these mixed reviews of D2L, I felt nervous to go online and start looking around.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the program relatively understandable, and it only took a few tries to figure out how to move around.  I am not so sure I am jazzed about the new discussion forum forcing us to click in and out of threads to see replies, but I can live with it.  And after talking with instructors at PSU, I now understand that how easy D2L is to the user really depends on the extent in which we need to utilize the program.

            In my case, all I am doing is reading and posting, and I am happy to report that D2L is user-friendly, even for a non-computer wiz like me.  I am curious to hear from other students though.  What do you all think?

34 thoughts on “Desire2Learn or Desire2 Tear My Hair Out?

  1. Each professor should make private groups on Facebook and allow informal discussions there and force professors to use class-time to handout documents and receive assignments. This will prove to be a faulty system, just as Blackboard, let us face the facts.

    1. Not everyone wants to expose their family & friends to a new crop of classmates every 10 weeks. Facebook is not the proper forum for an educational discussion that will reflect on your final grade. The D2L system is hinky, sure, but it will also keep studies where they belong, at school or on a school system. I would have a serious problem if a class I was paying for required the use of Facebook, even in so-called private groups.

      1. Um…they could just make a class account or a second Facebook account…family won’t be bothered. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience! Mine, so far, has been less positive. When the website is actually up, it has been great. It is very user friendly and easy to get the hang of. However, I quickly learned that if I want to reply to a discussion with a lengthy post, I better type it offline and then copy/paste it, because odds are that it will time out while in the middle of typing. Also, the whole discussion thread format is a bit messy, clunky and counter-intuitive at times.

    If they were to add more failover hardware and network load sharing to D2L I think it would add a lot of value to it. Until then, I vote a resounding “meh”.


    1. Thanks J! While I have not had any issues with the website being offline, I have struggled this week trying to find my classmate’s e-mail addresses. We can chat and discuss issues but we can’t send e-mails unless we get the e-mail address directly from the classmate. This brings it down a notch for me too.

      Blackboard used to kick me off all the time so I learned long ago to compose my work on Word and then paste it into the discussion forum. I agree that is another frustrating aspect of these online programs.

      1. Richelle,
        Has your prof loaded the class list onto the site? I have found if I hit ‘class list’ (upper right hand corner) it will list all the students in class, and I can email from there. Hope this helps!

  3. It is slightly better than blackboard because it supports a wider selection of browsers. I can use D2L in googlechrome and firefox which you couldn’t do easily in blackboard.

    1. Hmmm, that is interesting Christiana. I typically don’t stray from Explorer but some times I use Firefox when Explorer is being uncooperative. Good to know that D2L will still work when I am in a different browser!

  4. For me D2L has been easy. But I have noticed my professors have been struggling with the change.

    1. Me too Jennifer. Some professors find it easier than others I am noticing. Of course, its the same issue with the equipment in the room, such as the projector or the computer. I am sure you have had classes where the students have to go up to the front to help the instructor with the equipment. Cracks me up sometimes because if I were a professor, that would be me!!!

  5. I’m disappointed in the timing of the switch. My instructors have mentioned they would have preferred the switch happen over summertime or winter break which are longer than the spring break.
    They (my instructors) are unfamiliar with how to activate features for students to view. The extra time for acclimation is pushing back discussion time, document access opportunities and has really been a big hassle for me. When I sit down to do work on my classes and the content I need is not available – it negates the convenience of online features – I have to reorganize my time to get back to work when the features are finally visible to students.

    1. Yeah, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed with timing as well, considering this is my last term. It is frustrating to learn a whole new system just as I am leaving. I am trying to remind myself though that this is how its going to be out in the working world too. Companies change their operating software all the time so I guess I had just better get used to it, lol! Definitely would have been nice to have the change occur during a longer break, though. Excellent point!

  6. Richelle,
    While I’m sure there are some positive aspects of D2L, I’m finding it more limiting than helpful. Considering that my classes are entirely online every semester, I was wondering if the transition would be that smooth into the new system. I went through a five module program on how to navigate D2L, and wasn’t impressed with the system as I navigated through the modules. Still, I hoped for the best. Unfortunately, I’m still unimpressed. So far, I have found that the ability to cut and paste into documents is severely limited–more like a joke–it happens for threaded posts as well as mail to profs. ( a glitch in the system that tech says can’t be avoided), I’ve had it freeze 2x in the last month (in the middle of a test–one time it was the entire system that went down), attachments will not go through, and the threading system makes it nearly impossible to keep tabs on all the things going on within classes! While I know blackboard had its glitches (I was in the first group to be on it, and there were glitches!), I wish they had left well enough alone. Add these problems to the reality that everyone has to get ‘used’ to D2L before it will flow smoothly and the bugs will be gone, and well, there goes 1/2 a year of my life. Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer blackboard.

    1. Ugh! That sounds difficult and all of the sudden I am glad I don’t have to D2L to the extent that you do!!!

      Thanks for your advice on the e-mail aspect. I will chat with my instructor and she if she intends on posting the student info. So far, there is nothing there.

      1. I’m sure it will calm down for me after I figure out all the ins and outs of it…I just wish that cut and paste thing was fixed! That’s a little awkward….but I’m becoming the master of the “control c” and “control v” function…’s the attachments that are gonna kill me….LOL!

    2. I’m with you. Let’s be real here: Blackboard has a much more professional feel and ease of use compared with D2L. This system is cheap and it shows. It irritates me to no end that PSU continues to change systems at such a fast pace. One barely gets used to one system and a year later is forced into a new, always supposedly superior, system. These changes do have a major impact of student and staff comfort and focus and thus on learning.

  7. Anytime:-) Just think… year (hopefully) we’ll all look back and laugh at this transition….(hope, hope!)

  8. You can go to settings in Discussions and enable a ‘reading view’, no clicking at all to view messages, replies or other threads.

  9. So far, so good! I am actually enjoying using D2L. It may simply be the professor and their approach to the new system; they set the tone in my opinion. Like they say, “if the professor isn’t happy, no one’s happy!” Or something like that 🙂

  10. Something about D2L- or perhaps it is the way my instructors set up and use it- visually overwhelms me. Discussions and course content make me cringe just to look at compared with Blackboard; there’s just too much to take in. I’m glad many other students and staff like the system but I’ve used it for a term and a half now and still long to go back to Blackboard.

  11. I am so happy bb is gone! It literally shut down one of my laptaps and freezes this one down to the point that I have to shut my computer off and start all over! What a night when I am writing papers I have to submit through blackboard. Hello d2l!!!

  12. Personally, I HATE D2L. I am a senior and have been using Blackboard since I started college. This semester, my school decided to change the online classrooms to D2L and I just can’t get on board! I am very computer savvy and had an easy time navigating around Blackboard. After a month of using D2L, I find it overwhelming, confusing, and unorganized. It was great to log on and see a visually stimulating page for each classroom in Blackboard and I am just at a total loss with D2L. I feel very nervous that I am missing vital information within this program and can’t seem to grasp the whole “dropbox” concept. Don’t even get me started on the waste of space that is the discussion board (in regards to replies.. the posting and re-posting of posts). All in all, Blackboard was much easier to use and made me feel like I was on top of everything. D2L just gives me a headache. Ugh.

  13. “Dear” PSU, D2L being down for more than a few hours at a time is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!!!! I am paying boatloads of money I haven’t even made yet to attend this school, and I have 3 classes this term, two of which each have ENORMOUS amounts of reading materials literally being kept from me on the school’s D2L which has been down for over 48 hours. PSU; tell me why I shouldn’t find another school that doesn’t randomly confiscate my text books. Tell me! Because I’m already thinking about transferring out of here in response to my experience with D2L these last couple days. TOTALLY. COMPLETELY. UNACCEPTABLE.

  14. I’m a student. Just spent more than an hour with tech support trying to get the equation editor to work in Discussions. No resolution but I have to get the homework done tonight. I really need the equations editor for this course. Not impressed. Also not impressed with the outage last Spring.

    If anyone has

    1. any suggestions? Also I agree with an earlier poster. Why does each post have to be reposted with each reply on D2L? Makes it hard to follow discussions. Really, should be an easy thing to fix but no…

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  16. Upper Iowa University JUST switched to D2L and the first class on it starts Monday, May 2, 2016. I have reviewed all the tutorials and etc, but I feel myself like this will go very well or very badly. I am hoping it is smooth, but if it is as bad as some say I may have to figure something out as an online and out of state student.

    For the record, I use chrome only and have fiber optic internet, but I also have filters on my internet half the day because of my job, so yeah. Should be interesting.

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