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Desire2Learn LMS Update Streamlines Use, Encourages Video and Audio Additions

Desire2Learn has launched the first new release of its flagship learning management system (LMS) application suite following the infusion of an $80 million investment into the company. Version 10.1 of Desire2Learn Learning Suite offers features in each of its modules to help students receive a more personalized learning experience, assist faculty in delivering courses to any device on demand and integrate multimedia more easily into their lessons, and track learning progress in new ways with out-of-the-box reporting.

Desire2Learn's suite includes integrated components for the LMS, including a learning repository, a digital portfolio, mobile delivery, analytics, lecture capture, and the course delivery or learning environment itself.

According to the company, that learning environment has been updated with these features:

  • Video Note allows the user to use a webcam and then drop a video into the course content;
  • Universal Drag and Drop File Upload simplifies the addition of files into course content from external sources (such as the user's desktop);
  • The ability to create new material, such as assignments, quizzes, and discussions inside content without having to do it from within a popup or navigating to another function;
  • Inline document conversion and rendering for Microsoft Office and PDF files;
  • A beefed up HTML editor that allows for insertion of audio and video in place;
  • Quicker access to restrictions and date management;
  • A new class progress dashboard to provide student progress at a glance for instructors; and
  • A revamped User Progress function that improves on visualizations and streamlined navigation among users, courses, and tools.

The ePortfolio module expedites the processes followed by the student to add and read entries. Quick reflections allows the user to post and share thoughts in the moment. A personal notification dashboard lets the user set up instant notifications via SMS or email on a mobile device to be connected to newsfeed updates. The new release also lets somebody view a user's social profile more quickly by clicking on the user's avatar without leaving the explore page.

Version 10.1's Learning Repository provides mechanisms to help schools make their learning objects publicly available online, outside of the classroom. Organizations can tag specific learning objects like course content or syllabus and create a branded landing page. That same module allows instructors to collect materials from different repositories and create personal collections such as a reading list for courses. A one-click access feature lets the user find the latest additions in the My Objects or My Collections content.

Desire2Learn's updated Capture software has three areas of improvement:

  • Enhanced security and bandwidth management through LDAP integration to maintain control of groups, roles, and permissions;
  • An automatic closed captioning service through CaptionSync adds closed captioning to video content. The user may also choose to add text directly through a new caption window; and
  • The chat screen has been embedded into the CaptureCast window, to make it easier for instructors to chat with students during a live session without opening a separate window on their desktop.

The Analytics application provides four new types of reports:

  • Course Outcome Evaluation to report on achievement results;
  • Enrollment, to provide enrollment counts at multiple levels of aggregation and over time, in order to identify where course churn is happening and help identify why;
  • Certification Tracking provides auditing, tracking, and flagging to help institutions monitor required certifications of their staff; and
  • Survey Analysis collects and analyses responses for end of course evaluations, faculty evaluations, and other institutional surveys.

Assignment Grader, a free mobile app for iOS devices from Desire2Learn that lets an instructor access assignments, do online and offline grading, and provide audio and video feedback, has added the ability for the user to do PDF annotation. According to the company, this feature allows the user to add "freehand notes, mark-ups, strikethrough, or audio commentary directly to assignments right from your tablet."

Campus Life, a mobile app for Apple, Google Android, and Blackberry devices that connects the campus community with access to the LMS, news, and other kinds of information, has added a reporting feature that delivers usage metrics, such as number of downloads, average length of stay, and number of bounce rates.

"Desire2Learn is transforming education by enabling learner-centric approaches such as adaptive learning, the flipped classroom, and experiential learning," said company President and CEO, John Baker. "This release empowers our customers to better connect with learners--whether they're leveraging Desire2Learn Capture for rich media webcasting, our analytics to predict student success, or using the audio and video capabilities that are prevalent throughout the Desire2Learn Learning Environment and mobile apps."

Desire2Learn Learning Suite v10.1 is a free upgrade for existing customers. The company will be demonstrating its new release during Educause 2012, a higher education technology conference, in Denver next week.

In September the company announced that for the first time in its history, it was taking on private investment. Desire2Learn raised $80 million in financing from two investors. At the time Baker stated that the funds would be used "to address new markets, while maintaining our position as an independent, client-centric business focused on innovation."

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