Desire2Learn solution, as offered and administered, represents the cutting edge of an all-inclusive and full integrated online learning solution for Regis University students. Getting the solution to coalesce and operate on a continuing basis in a way that allows for continuity and ongoing success and upgrades requires a lot of moving people and parts that must be arranged and wielded in a way that is transparent to the students when it needs to be but "wows" the students when it works as it should. While it's a very complex system, Desire2Learn is a boon for student learning and represents the best of online and ground-based learning at the undergraduate and graduate level.
The Parts of the System
The first, and most important, part of what makes Desire2Learn operate and function is the department and staff that design, update and maintain the system. The key parts to assembling and maintaining an information technology staff is finding the right amount of people and with the right amount of skills including designers, coders, technical support and so forth. If any one of those proverbial links in the chain breaks or becomes damaged, then the site does not operate in a fashion that the students and the teachers and other staff want and need it to do. This would reflect negatively on Regis and should be avoided at all costs because it slows (or stops) the learning process and that cannot be allowed to happen.
The next part if the software development life cycle, otherwise known as the SDLC. Basically, there is a cycle that repeats again and again while a system like Desire2Learn is in functioning and operating. The steps, in order, are planning, analysis, design, implementation and maintenance. Desire2Learn will not operate forever, at least not in its current form, but it must be maintained, planned and updated as things progress and technology changes (UKSW, 2014). Changes that can happen include shifts to new coding schemes or tactics within the same scheme, introduction of new loads of content or increase volumes of the same and the ever-changing resources, texts and formats that come to pass. Just a few years ago, printed texts were the norm but there has been a paradigm shift to electronic versions using tablets and other smaller computing items and with simple PDF technology (and similar) on laptops and desktop computers before that. Soon enough, printed textbooks and books in general will be a conscious preference rather than the norm. However, coming back to the cycle, the system that is Desire2Learn has to be updated, maintained and there has to be planning and analysis surrounding both as time goes on. The next cog in the machine is the work system snapshot. This is similar to the SDLC in that a diagram is in question but the diagram pertains to the system and the overall flow of how the system works (Alter, 2006). For Desire2Learn, it would basically show how information flows to and from the system via the students and the Regis staff including the teachers, administrators and the information technology staff/leaders.
The next step is the overall hierarchy of the information system. There are three main things that the Regis staff that manages Desire2Learn must manage: data, applications and access. In other words, the data has to be collected/stored, the applications to access and manipulate the flow of information must be put in place and the pathways to allow all of the above to move and/or operate must be put in place. The next two steps in the IT cycle relative to Desire2Learn cover this in great detail, that being the overall hardware and software plethora which would include workstations, network bandwidth and management (routers, switches, etc.), user access control, software licensing, software purchase, operating systems, productivity software management (Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, etc.), web browsing/enabling, remote/on-site access and so forth.
Teachers and administrators must have the hardware, software and the configurations needed to do their job and the students have to have the same (but different) management for Desire2Learn for everything to work in harmony and peace. An off-shoot of software/hardware, but something that deserves its own mention, is database management. Having all the data collected and at the ready is an easy thing to ponder but making it a reality requires database hardware and software management and configuration so that people can access the data they need including finding it, accessing it, saving it for later and managing things like licenses and data surrounding all of the above.
Software, hardware and database structures would also entail the security and safety to keep student and teacher data safe as well as keeping "need to know" information to those that truly need to know and far away from everyone else. This would include data like social security numbers, any health records/info, financial records such as tuition payment sources and payment plans, the financial and planning operaitons of Regis University and so forth. Much, but not all, of that data would course through the Desire2Learn system. As such, it is imperative that things like social engineering, backdoor ways into the Desire2Learn system or the systems that feed/help the same need to be secure yet accessible given the entry of the proper credentials. A compromising of that data would put a black eye on Regis and the Desire2Learn (not to mention the people behind it) much like the breaches encountered by Target and TJX Corporation (Hosenball, 2014).
The final part of the information technology envelope that services and allows for Desire2Learn to do what it is does is the telecommunications sphere. Nowadays, telecommunications blends so seamlessly with the computer world at large as phone, internet and computers in general are all one moving part even if people are not always aware. For example, voice over IP technology is basically phone calls through Ethernet and the internet rather than through analog phone lines of yesteryear. As the years drag on, Desire2Learn will become more robust in the ways in which people communication including email, video chat, voice chat and phone calls in general. The line between phones and computers is blurring by the day and the Desire2Learn will certainly reflect that shift in the years and decades to come as technology and the Regis Desire2Learn, and/or whatever replaces it somewhere down the road, expands and develops. Integration and trends yielded from tablet and smartphone technology will only speed things along and allow for greater capabilities.
Anyway, to come back to the more specific topic of telecommunications, communication is key and while it can be overdone, having the option to speak to your teacher using video even if one is a distance learner is a huge plus. The same precise thing is being done in other segments of society and industry such as with doctors and even the help function of some electronic devices like the "Mayday" function on the newer Amazon Kindle Fire devices. Desire2Learn administrators and designers can make their own innovations to be sure and students can give their suggestions as to what works for them and what does not but the trends and habits that peek out of the woodwork in society should be paid attention to. There is a thin line between that and being a copycat but Desire2Learn can and will work with the good trends and developments in society, relative to learning/college in particular, and that is a good thing as long as it is an improvement for the learning process both for ground-based students as well as ones that are learning remotely in whole or in part.
The different moving parts of Desire2Learn as described at their more base levels as well as when looking at particular parts of the Desire2Learn framework such as the Learning Environment, the Insights section, the Assignment Grader and…