Who are you, Desire2Learn?

Desire2Learn, or Brightspace, or whoever you may be in the future — we are getting tired of you.

For those of you who are new to Georgia State this year, you may not know this, but the educational tool instructors use for online classes has had two different systems in the past two years. In 2012, we had ULearn. In 2013, we had Desire2Learn. In 2015, we will have just a name change: from Desire2Learn to Brightspace. And in 2016, The Signal is willing to bet there will be yet another change.

The company that operates the learning management system said existing course content will not be changed. There will just be newer features added. So basically it’s going to be the same thing, just with a different name and a few upgrades.

For some newer students, this may not even be a big deal. But for instructors who have to learn the system all over again and go through another training session just to know how to use program, it is incredibly inconvenient. Especially when instructors have just started to understand Desire2Learn.

The previous change from ULearn to Desire2Learn drove many people nuts. Instructors had to learn all over again how to upload files and use the system to the best advantage. For other instructors, they don’t use it at all. Students had to type in a new address for the same program and learn how to access the program.

Some instructors just opted to use their own website or another one that came with the course. This, too, can cause confusion for students.

And the funny thing is, there weren’t even many drastic “changes” to Georgia State’s new learning management system per se; the program just offered more functionality with an interface designed differently. Desire2Learn allowed easier access from mobile, integrated Dropbox to submit assignments and more.

A similar change is going to happen with Desire2Learn — the interface will just have a new design with a new name slapped on it.

Changing the name of the domain is just as if a person were to go and legally change their name every year. Why would you go through the bureaucracy of that? To try out new identities every single year? Because that’s exactly how we are perceiving it even if you are claiming to still have all your original features, Desire2Learn.

When Facebook updated their interface throughout the years, people groaned and grumbled — but at least Facebook kept their name the same! People got used to the changes. That’s because Facebook let their users know they were still the same entity, aiming to achieve the same overarching goal.

When a company has a new name, people will assume there are drastically different things to accomplish. People will look at the new brand with skepticism, and feel like they need to get to know something new all over again.

That said, Desire2Learn is actually a program with much potential. The user-interface is simple and easy to use. Dropbox folders allow students to easily submit their assignments from home. Instructors can make quizzes online, and we don’t need to find another source entirely to create them.

Instead of completely changing the name and brand, the company should just upgrade the design bit by bit and provide in-site tutorials on how to use the new features. That would create less confusion.

We wouldn’t have to say, “Oh, sorry about calling you Desire2Learn. I forgot you changed your name.”