I’m writing this post during the wrap-up session of the annual Desire2Learn conference. (Desire2Learn is the software / vendor behind Carmen.). I came to the conference with several agenda items, and am coming away with a lot to share with you.
There are generally two main conversations at the D2L conference: new tools, features, and options being planned and delivered by Desire2Learn and its partners, and new things being done by faculty and staff at schools that use Desire2Learn.
I have some highlights here. I’ll be writing more about these and other ideas over the next couple of weeks and beyond.
We got to see (and play, a bit) with the next update of Desire2Learn. D2L 10 includes a major redesign of the look and feel of the whole system. For the first time since I remember, all of the tools will be using the same basic layout and menu design. There will also be new navigation and menu structures for moving within and between courses.
Some tools will get major overhauls or new features, and there are new customization and design options that look like they can be made available to instructors.
The update to D2L 10 will be a big change. I’m excited about the options coming to Carmen and I think you’ll like them too. But because this change will be so noticeable, we aren’t planning to do the update until spring 2013. Getting through our first full year under the new semester system will be plenty of change!
In autumn, we will be providing information about the update schedule. We’ll also let you know about opportunities to help us decide how to take advantage of the new options.
Much of the redesign was motivated by the need to make D2L / Carmen function better on tablet devices like iPads. Rather than having two different interfaces, depending on device, we’ll have a single look-and-feel that works on both desktop / laptop and tablet machines.
Several months ago, Desire2Learn quietly released an iPad app that allows instructors to download assignments submitted to the Dropbox for offline grading. Scores and feedback are then synced back to the Dropbox and from there to Gradebook. Interest in this new app was so high at the conference that we’re still waiting to receive copies for the Carmen support group. Stay tuned for more information on this one!
Desire2Learn leaders also unveiled another app that will allow students to download most kinds of Content items to read and annotate on their tablet devices. This app is so brand-new that we only saw screenshots. Or maybe what we saw was just an artistic representation. In any event, as soon as we know more about the app, I’ll pass it along.
New Thoughts on Existing Options
There are some tools that we already have — new or redesigned in the update we took in December 2011 — that we’re really not using as effectively as we could. I’m planning to put together blog articles about some of them.
In particular, look for something on the newly redesigned Calendar. It’s not just a list of due dates anymore. And it looks like it will become even more significant as a course organizer after the update to D2L 10.
I also attended interesting sessions about
- the Seating Chart tool (which we don’t have turned on right now),
- Checklists (which are an old tool, but maybe worth looking at again),
- Quiz Grading by Question (which I knew was neat, but we may not have promoted it enough), and
- using SCORM packages in Content. In D2L 10, SCORM quiz data will be able to be saved to the Gradebook, which I know a lot of folks have wanted.
I spent time talking with representatives from some textbook publishers who have rich digital resources to support their textbooks. At the request of faculty teams teaching large courses, we’re currently working on integration projects with 3 publishers that will allow for “single sign on” from specific Carmen courses to the related textbook resources. You can definitely expect to hear more about this project later this summer.
I also hunted for answers to a challenge faced by many dedicated folks here at Ohio State: needing to populate numerous Carmen course shells with the same content, every term. The solution we have right now — Copy Course Components — works fine, but it is amazingly tedious when you have to repeat it 30 times each term. I didn’t find an answer to making this process faster, but I did find one possible option to explore. I’m hoping I’ll be able to write about a solution to this challenge in the next year or so!
Now, I have one more session to attend, a meeting, and then my colleagues and I will find some dinner and mosey back to the airport for a red-eye flight home. Somewhere in there, I’ll snag some Internet time to post this.