By Carin Headrick | Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
On May 15, Janna Cameron and I led a Twitter discussion about web accessibility. We'd like to thank everyone who added their voice to the choir!
Our chat was a little "all over the map," but that was half the fun. Topics discussed included understanding the "why"of accessibility, little things that go a long way towards making a web experience accessible, helping course designers make their content work for every learner in the system, and tools that others can use to check their own approach against accessibility standards. We hope to involve more people in our next Twitter chat: the more perspectives that join the conversation, the more enlightening it will be for everyone.
Here is a transcript of our web accessibility conversation.
Posted in: Accessibility
By John Baker | Published: Monday, June 10, 2013
As we begin the countdown to FUSION 2013, I’m getting more and more excited to unveil some of the new programs and content that we have planned to share with all of you. This will be my 10th year at FUSION and every year I look forward to the moment when I get to be up on stage sharing the latest product and company advances. We have a lot of exciting announcements to share this year and many activities planned to help equip you with all the tools and information you need to head into another year. I want to take a few minutes to highlight some for you...
Building a bigger vision
The Vision track is a new addition to the agenda this year that I’m excited for you to experience. We’ve assembled a panel of experts on some of the hottest topics in education right now including personalization, big data, gaming strategy and social learning to name a few. Please take some time plan your schedule and join one of these interactive sessions. I think you’ll be excited to hear some of the perspectives and collaborate with your peers and thought leaders on these exciting topics that are shaping the future of education.
Sharing your point of view
This year we want to encourage you to get more involved by showcasing your stories of potential – we’re encouraging everyone to talk about where they see potential and where they’ve experienced great results in using technology to build on that potential. Leading up to FUSION, we’re asking members of our community to take a moment to stop and share your vision with us so we can use some of your quotes and ideas to inspire the attendees. It could be something you have done or something you plan to do or a problem you want to solve. It’s all about sharing your point of view as part of this community committed to furthering the potential of learners, the potential of each other and the potential of learning overall.
Hearing from the thought leaders
In addition to the Vision track and executive speakers at FUSION, we have a great line up of guest keynotes on the agenda this year. Michael Horn joins us to talk about disruption in education, Karen Cator will be with us to talk about lifelong learning and Alec Couros is joining us to talk about emerging technologies. I am excited to hear from all 3 of these speakers and learn more about the different areas of expertise that they cover.
We’re looking forward to seeing you all out at FUSION for another year of community building, collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Let the countdown begin!
Posted in: Corporate
By Jeff McDowell | Published: Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Desire2Learn is a company that is always challenging itself to think bigger. We don't just debate the value of product features - we also consider what kind of world we are helping to create.
As part of that internal dialogue, a video was created a few months back that helped the company think big and also challenged each Desire2Learn employee to consider their role in the company's vision.
For me personally, the video captures the reason why so many of us come to work here every day. We have a deep belief that when people are able to achieve their full potential, their lives, and society in general, are improved. That focus on the power of individual potential is critical in today's world as technology and social movements are changing the fabric of society and business. We at Desire2Learn want to ensure that individuals are able to adapt and contribute to a brighter future.
I was thrilled with the internal dialogue the video sparked. In an effort to build a unifying dialogue with you, our customers, I'd like to share the video here.
Where do you see potential? Where have you experienced great results in using technology to build on that potential? Maybe it's something you've done personally or something you plan to do. Perhaps a problem you want to solve. Share your point of view on Twitter using the #potential hashtag. Let's continue to learn from and be inspired by each other.
Posted in: Transforming Teaching & Learning
By Mitchell Buchanan | Published: Monday, May 27, 2013
On May 7th, Desire2Learn announced the latest release of Desire2Learn Learning Suite. As both a product marketing co-op within the organization and a student at a school that uses Desire2Learn products, I’ve had firsthand access to some of the new tools and capabilities I’ll be using in the fall. For anyone like me who’s passionate about learning and loves technology, this is a pretty cool opportunity.
With my final year of university approaching, I want to do everything I can to keep myself on track. There’s a looming pressure to maintain an acceptable academic average. Even though I might feel relaxed now, I’m aware of how quickly my feelings can shift from “I totally have this covered” to “if I just had twenty-eight hours every day and an unlimited supply of energy drinks, I’d totally have this covered.”
That’s where Desire2Learn comes in. As a student, I couldn’t be more excited to try out all the new Learning Suite features once my co-op term ends and I’m back in the classroom – mainly because so many of the updates feel like they were made with a focus on students in mind.
The updated Discussions tool will help me see conversations with enhanced detail – when someone replies to one of my posts, a notification takes me right to what was said. If I need to talk to someone quickly, I can access the user’s contact information that pops up when I put my cursor over their profile picture. Working in groups with my fellow students has never been easier.
Since Desire2Learn Learning Environment provides students with cloud storage space, I can guarantee all the resources and materials I need are accessible whenever I need them. Desire2Learn Binder™, a mobile study and annotation app, has also been updated with connections to various external storage applications. When I import documents into Binder, I can annotate and make notes as freely as I want – online or offline. Once I’m done studying and marking up my work, I can now export documents back to any of these storage locations. If I need to keep physical copies, I can print the documents with or without the annotations, too. All of these features can be used quickly and easily and combine many of a student’s everyday activities in one place.
I love that many of these updates are directed at students and not just focused on instructors and administrators. The developers worked to identify exactly what students wanted and then built a system that gave us exactly that. Even though I’m having an awesome time working for Desire2Learn, I can’t wait to get back onto campus and start using this stuff for real!
Posted in: Learning Suite
By Nadeem Sheikh | Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
With every new release that Desire2Learn deploys, our aim is to consistently deliver a solution that is recognized and valued by the educational community for its intuitive tools, simple interface, and time-saving workflows. In our efforts to drive personalization in the educational experience, we always develop new tools and technologies with the end user in mind: we want to enable learning, your way.
The newest release of Desire2Learn Learning Suite is the latest demonstration of our continuing commitment to usability as a design focus. As a Senior Technical Product Manager for Desire2Learn Learning Environment, my goal is to align our individual teams, products, and people to a consistent, personalized, user-focused vision. To provide you with some helpful insights about how we’ve worked to achieve that goal in the latest release, I’m happy to share some of the new features and updates in Desire2Learn Learning Environment that reflect our approach to usability.
Our customers always provide terrific feedback about navigation, templates, and tracking. We’ve worked to successfully transition many of them into our content solution. With the newest release, instructors are now able to add any activity – such as checklists, discussions, Dropbox folders, surveys, or quizzes – directly into content with just a few clicks. That should make things more complex to navigate, right? Actually, it’s easier!
We’ve redesigned the content map as an expandable left panel, simplifying navigation to any topic in that module or the entire course! Through a visual timeline of content progression, instructors instantly know what has been completed without leaving the Content tool. They can also select from pre-defined document templates, with accessibility and mobility capabilities built in, when creating new documents. Viewing the information has never been easier – as documents now automatically resize to fit the viewing frame.
Discussion threads are now displayed separately with inline replies. Topics clearly display the associated rubrics, clarifying what the discussion is trying achieve. ‘Easier’ is the way forward, and communicating via email is now easier with a clean, simple UI that includes autocomplete capabilities for personal and course contacts.
We have also made key improvements within the Assessment suite. Work faster with Dropbox by downloading, evaluating, and uploading bulk files. If you move too quickly and delete folders you needed, no problem – now, you can restore them from the Event Log. Quizzes, surveys, and self-assessments have also been further streamlined with a switch from input boxes to drop down selectors.
Our continued focus on improving usability has directly resulted in ownership of quality at every level of the team. We’re dedicated to only implementing new functionalities that can deliver the intended customer experience. The updates listed in this post are just a few examples of our usability focus moving forward as we continue to develop solutions for lifelong learning. We are committed to delivering the market’s highest quality learning platform, and that means designing and implementing every new feature or update with our users’ experience at the forefront of the discussion.
Posted in: Learning Suite