No access available: Some instructors struggle with lack of tech resources


At the start of the 2014 fall semester many new Georgia State professors were delayed being processed into the university’s system, preventing them from accessing email, Desire2Learn and other classroom equipment.

Gwendolyn Davis, faculty member in the Department of Communication, said in addition to the delayed access of Desire2Learn and email, her Kell Hall classroom is lacking electronic equipment she would like to use to teach her course in public relations techniques.

“A remaining major challenge for me at this point is the total absence of Audio Visual equipment, ideally a computer-based AV system,” she said.

The absence of this technology has also rendered the ability to use PowerPoint and sample materials, according to Davis.

“I have been making copies of printed hand-outs for the class,” she said.

Davis also said in order to supplement her lectures and carry out class discussions she is utilizing an unreliable overhead projector and transparencies.

“My attempts to secure AV equipment from other university sources into the classroom have been futile,” she said.

On Davis’ behalf, The Department of Communication asked for her public relations class be moved to a classroom with technology. That request was denied, according to Davis.

“It is impossible to offer any instruction and related resources in that classroom,” she said.

Audio and visual equipment is available to professors but has been difficult to secure, according to Davis.

“I can borrow some equipment from the exchange on an as-needed basis, but my class schedule and the logistics of moving between three buildings don’t give the extra time to get that AV equipment,” she said.

Davis said she received access to Desire2Learn in late September and has began posting her class information. She said she was among those new faculty hires who had issues with human resources.

But some new instructors don’t want to alter the teaching routine they have already been using all semester.

Journalism instructor and new faculty member Donna Krache said that she didn’t know about Desire2Learn. Not having access has not altered how she intended to teach her curriculum.

“For new instructors this year, we were just late getting into the system,” she said.

Jackie Quellar, a student in Krache’s media writing course, said she prefers when instructors distribute printed assignments and handouts and likes that she can email her assignments.

Krache also said all of her courses are in the same room of Classroom South and every student has a personal computer.

“I’m satisfied with the technology and what’s available,” she said.

Whereas some professors are without certain resources, others say they have found creative ways to engage students to teach their course.

Sophomore Natalie Allen said likes her professors to use D2L for everything except for email features.

“I think emailing through D2L is useless but student email is good. I expect all my teachers to use student email,” she said.

Allen also said she has a global issues instructor, Deborah Saunders Davenport, who has found creative ways to use the tools available through D2L.

“She opened up the discussion board for extra credit. This way you get to know other students through the discussion,” she said.

Davenport said because global issues is one option for a university credit requirement, lots of students take the course.

“One thing I regret is I can’t always puts the names to faces of students. I regret not having more interaction or rapport [with students],” she said.

The realization to use the D2L discussion board has become a good way to hear from students that might not normally contribute in the classroom, according to Davenport.

“To me it seemed like a good idea to offer extra credit without any pressure,” she said.

Davenport began working at Georgia State in fall 2013. Technology resources like D2L and university email were available to her immediately. Her preferred method of communication with students is through D2L.

Davenport said D2L automatically shows what class students are in and helps her know how to respond to them.

However, the ability to send messages from university email to the program’s email is the biggest drawback, according to Davenport. Students email her university email account from D2L, but she can’t respond to them through webmail.

Every semester Davenport has learned to incorporate new D2L resources into her classes including grade postings, quiz offerings and utilizing announcements.

This semester she has started using Dropbox for students to submit their assignments.

“I think it would be too much for a new instructor to know how to use all the features of the platform,” she said. “I think it’s an issue of gradually getting used to it unless they’ve used something similar.”

It is beneficial to her classes to use all technological resources available through the university, according to Davenport.

“It [D2L] makes it possible to devote more time to lectures [because students are] not having to do the assessments in class,” she said.