Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The best thing to come from the Ignite User Forum - A real forum

Recently I attended the Ignite Regional Desire2Learn User’s Forum. It was the second regional user’s forum I’ve attended since Regis University has migrated over to Desire2Learn. Both of them were structured like mini conferences with attendees presenting projects they were working on, Presenter’s from D2L promoting both free and for cost feature that are available with D2L, and an MC who somehow worked in sales pitches for the for the common software that we were all there to discuss and learn about.

Three of the four sessions that I attended were just like sessions one might attend at a conference, but the last session made the entire day worthwhile as Regis’ own Greg Hatayama scheduled a roundtable discussion which was much more in line with the concept of a user’s forum. As the LMS coordinator for Regis, Greg was interested in talking to other LMS admins who have had issues dealing with D2L and to discuss common problems that we at Regis knew others were having. To that point we had very little formal contact with other users and certainly no conduit for resolving common issues.

The session started with the group sharing first successes and then challenges their respective sites were experiencing. For a short while the challenges was an orderly gripe session about how difficult it is to organize an update to a newer version and how concerned everyone was about the continuous update and D2L’s ability to troubleshoot bugs without using its customers as the bug hunters. One of the LMS administrators from the Colorado Community College system was airing her concerns about the continuous update plan when she turned to the D2L rep in the room who up to that point seemed to be totally engrossed with his cellphone and said, “I hope that you are taking good notes to bring back to D2L for us.”

Amazingly enough he had been paying attention, summarized our issues and then in what was a risky move on his part he explained the D2L side of the story that gave some background to our concerns, but never sounded defensive. It was the clearest, most coherent 5 minutes I’ve ever experienced with anyone from D2L. He concluded by suggesting that we take our group into a formal organization which could send issues to D2L voicing concerns of all Colorado customers rather than sending them through our individual account reps and TAMs which take a while to be recognized as a common issue and therefore receiving the proper attention.

The summation of the session was gathering everyone’s email address which has since been added to a List Serv that will be used as common source for sharing and solving problems. A List Serv was instrumental in troubleshooting problems that arose with Angel, our previous LMS, and hopefully will be even more beneficial to us in communicating concerns to D2L. Furthermore, as a group, we now have a structure in which to meet at future conferences and user forums.