September 29, 2020

BY CARMEN PONCIANO
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As we continue to find different ways to improve our everyday lives, Desire2Learn (D2L) has created a new platform which is bettering the way students learn.

Since the company’s inception in 1999, it has won numerous awards including the Top Canadian Employer for Young People and was named one of Deloitte Canada’s Best Managed Companies. It has become a leader in online learning solutions thanks to designing learning platforms that meet the new requirements that come with the technological advancements we have today. For example, D2L generated the platform (called eConestoga here at the college) that many college and university faculty use to post course content, grades and assignments. The system’s purpose is to build a connection outside of the physical classroom. Rather than looking at how students learn and making it better, D2L has taken a different path, which has led them to create a personalized learning platform that fits every person’s needs, called Brightspace.

It also gives instructors the flexibility to design their own courses and lets the students learn the content at their own pace. With the power of technology, Brightspace takes the traditional face-to-face way of learning and makes it accessible at anytime, in other words, online. However, what has made Brightspace a leader in the industry is how it can enhance student outcomes by monitoring, evaluating and predicting learner performance to improve retention and outcomes. This adaptive application takes a variety of data such as lesson plans, progress and efficiency in order to provide the most effective course of action. Brightspace was first introduced in kindergarten to Grade 12 classes. It now has Higher Education and Enterprise platforms as well.

“The end goal of all educational institutions, whether they are K-12 or higher education, is really to firstly deliver skilled, quality graduates into the field. And second, to develop college and career ready learners,” said Michael Moore, D2L’s senior advisory consultant analyst, during The Age of Big Data in Education webinar Oct. 22.

And it looks like D2L is not slowing down. In July they joined forces with IBM, one of the world’s top analytical companies. This partnership will help ensure continued innovation in the educational field, helping institutions recruit the right kind of students to the right programs and again, to envision the right path that individual could take to have a more successful future. IBM will focus on collecting data from students’ profiles to identify patterns and needs, while D2L will handle the educational side.

“Our job is to figure out how to help you begin to take this enormous amount of information and begin to apply it,” said Robert Dolan, manager of industry solutions, IBM Big Data and analytics.

However, one of the challenges IBM and D2L faces is were to draw the line when it comes to accessing information.

“It is something that institutions have a big obligation and responsibility for. They are being entrusted with the data about the learning behaviours of their students, so we always have a very conscious eye towards security and awareness and protecting the fidelity of that data and, when we are reporting, especially to outside entities, making sure that we are abstracting the data up to where it’s not personalized, it is aggregate or in other ways anonymous so that individual learner data can’t be extracted back out of it,” Moore said.

For more information visit www.brightspace.com

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