Section III: Summarized Feedback from Faculty and Students

Last Updated: 08/08/2013


Another important element in understanding the significant impact of the outages were face-to-face feedback session held on multiple days with faculty, students and staff. In addition, OIT actively solicited feedback through other channels including through leaders, existing OIT feedback mechanisms such as the OIT website and client-facing team members such as the Academic Technology Consultants and OIT Communications team. This section summarizes the feedback received through these various channels.

Public-forum Listening Sessions

After the January 29 to February 1 outage, OIT held public-forum feedback sessions on:

  • Thursday, January 31, 2013:
    • Time:  1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
    • Location:  Technology Learning Center (TLC), formerly Telecommunications bldg., Room 215.
  • Friday, February 1, 2013:
    • Time:  12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.
    • Location:  Norlin E113
  • Monday, February 4, 2013:
    • Time:  10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
    • Location:  Norlin E113
  • Wednesday, February 6, 2013:
    • Time:  3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    • Location:  UMC 382-386

Faculty, students and staff were invited to the sessions to share their ideas and critiques. In one instance the local student press attended and video-taped the session which resulted in the online story, on February 1, 2013 “Desire2Learn outage update” in the CU Independent. The feedback was compiled and immediately shared with OIT leadership.

The feedback was summarized in a public Google Doc titled Impact of Spring 2013 D2L Downtime on Faculty and Students at CU-Boulder.The Google Doc was shared with all participants, at which time they were invited to continue to share it with interested parties. The document was also published on the OIT website’s public Prof2Prof blog.

Targeted Feedback

Faculty and students also shared candid feedback with OIT team members in a one-on-one fashion. This feedback has also served as critical input to the OIT team evaluating options for how to proceed with D2L. This feedback is summarized below. This targeted feedback came in through several channels, including email messages sent to OIT, OIT’s social media channels (i.e., Facebook, Google+ and Twitter), phone calls to OIT, the OIT website feedback form and directly to the CIO. OIT responded to most feedback that came in through these channels. Note that over 200 unique messages were received during an approximate week period.

Recurring General Themes Regarding Impacts of the Downtime Shared with OIT

  • Some faculty noted they have scaled back their use of technology given the outages and have trended toward using alternate technologies given ongoing issues with the D2L system.
  • There was no access to textbook related materials that needed to be contained within the password-protected site, and this halted learning.
  • There were many inquiries regarding how D2L created the technical challenges and what they were going to do differently as a result of the outages.
  • There was a need to postpone work (e.g., quizzes) from the originally planned schedule given the outage made these materials inaccessible.
  • Because information was contained within a down system, it couldn’t be reproduced as a workaround, which was extremely limiting and frustrating.
  • The outages were especially challenging for students and faculty, given they occurred toward the start of the semester, and much new, important information was contained within D2L and was completely inaccessible.
  • It was unacceptable to have a multi-day outage of a key teaching and learning system.
  • The teaching and learning systems provided to faculty and staff needs to be more reliable and have more uptime.
  • Frustration was considerable among students and faculty whose ability to review, access and submit classwork was greatly hindered.
  • There were notable challenges for instructors of larger classrooms, who rely heavily on D2L given the size of their classes for quizzes.
  • There was significant frustration that faculty and staff had to come up with their own alternative technology uses during the outage, such as building one-off webpages to share information with students.
  • There were many concerns regarding courses that have online lectures and whether due dates would be pushed back given the outage.

Recommendations for OIT

  • There were several suggestions to switch to a different platform; some to bring hosting in-house; and to use alternate, commercial hosting.
  • There were several suggestions to make the “workarounds” much more robust, as the ones provided didn’t fill the many gaps and needs created by the outage.
  • For alternate technologies such as Google Apps, convey how they can be used to support teaching and learning; this includes providing more self-help resources on the OIT website and better communicate the use of these tools in the future.
  • There were many suggestions for permanent alternative options for technology, especially for instructors of online-only classes.
  • There were many recommendations for the campus to remain with D2L but in doing so make it more robust and stable, versus switching to another tool, which could cause further disruption.
  • There was a strong desire to have a better overall backup strategy in place in the event of a future outage.
  • There was a strong desire to have access to more opt-in communications for specific services.