Magdalena Knapp, Editor in Chief
Pictures provided by Magdalena Knapp and Mckendree University
January 22nd 2020, time 11:50 a. m., PAC Lobby: McKendree writes history. The year 2020 has already been a year full of changes for McKendree University. Not only have we now officially found a new president, but McKendree University has decided, after almost 15 years of collaboration, that Blackboard will no longer be our affiliated online program for classes.
On January 22nd 2020, the PAC lobby was decorated in bright orange, the color of our new program provider: D2L Brightspace– Desire 2 Learn. George Kriss, Erin Campbell, and Tami Eggleston were in charge of organizing the big D2L Brightspace reveal party. “D2L Brightspace is more modern and user-friendly. When you open Facebook you get excited; this [new program] will get you excited too!” says Dr. Eggleston.
The biggest issue McKendree students had with Blackboard was its accessibility. Blackboard did not work with every browser and it did not have a very inviting design. “We made the switch because of student surveys and some of their concerns with Blackboard,” says Dr. Eggleston. In our 21st century students rely mostly on their phone – “Blackboard’s phone app is not very effective. It doesn’t refresh or send you the necessary announcements on time or at all,” says Shelby Summer, junior at McKendree University. Blackboard has increased its costs that McKendree had to pay each year and after this summer when Blackboard was down for almost one week and the providers did not seem to care about fixing it, D2L Brightspace took its chance. McKendree tweeted about having issues with Blackboard and D2L Brightspace responded to this within 10 minutes providing help – after this it was not hard to see that a change was needed. A team of faculty explored all of the learning management systems to find the best one for McKendree.
Simal Yilmaz, account executive and Scott Bowden, solutions engineer, are the faces that students could get to know during a brief introduction session on January 22nd. Simal Yilmaz explains, “We will push McKendree into a new generation of pedagogy.” D2L Brightspace is a program that is used by millions of users worldwide and has its origins in Ontario, Canada. Over 1,300 educational institutions are using the program at the moment and D2L Brightspace looks back at 20 years of experience. Ever since the program has started, students could send their suggestions for improvement into a live chat and D2L Brightspace works with students to improve it day by day. One can see that after 20 years of experience and changes the program is in pretty good shape.
D2L Brightspace’s mission is to “Transform the way the world learns.” It wants to provide an environment where students can share ideas and their skills. D2L Brightspace has no downtime and automatically does monthly updates to keep everyone’s version up-to-date. It also provides a mobile responsive environment which is very important for McKendree students. It also does not matter what internet provider one uses; as long as the device is connected to some sort of internet, D2L Brightspace works.
Simal Yilmaz and Scott Bowden are nice, fun, and young leaders who truly care about the students that are using their program. During their presentation they seemed to be very excited and answered all the questions students had for them. After some training sessions for teachers and students, D2L Brightspace will be used by the summer classes in 2020 and from then on.
McKendree University is beyond excited about this change and has high hopes for the future, with a program that will support students throughout their college career here at McKendree University.