D2L crash hits students poised for midterms

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Periodic updates were posted on the D2L website during the crash. The company serves more than 10 million students around the globe. Photo  © D2L.PDX.EDU
Periodic updates were posted on the D2L website during the crash. The company serves more than 10 million students around the globe. Photo © D2L.PDX.EDU

A catastrophic software crash nixed studying for midterms for some students at Portland State last week.

Learning software giant Desire2Learn stopped working on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Service at PSU resumed on Friday.

D2L services more than 10 million students globally. President and CEO John Baker issued a public apology on the D2L website. The announcement stated that the outage affected one in four students at its peak.

“For many of our clients, our software is the hub around which they build their programs. They expect that our services are up and running during the day and throughout the evening and night.

“This is the goal to which we strive, and I apologize for falling far short of this. Some of you had no service for a period that reached up to 72 hours, which is completely unacceptable. Our system is now functioning normally and I have personally confirmed that all client data and sites are fully restored,” Baker said.

Jetzabel Franco, a psychology major at PSU, expressed frustration at the technological mishap.

“I couldn’t study for midterms at all,” Franco said.

Franco is a visually impaired student. She said she needed to use class information on D2L to study for her psychology and environmental science midterms.

“It was really upsetting because D2L works better than having your teacher email you 18 PowerPoints,” Franco said.

Though annoyed, Franco was also compassionate about the software fiasco.

“It’s just something that happens once in a while,” she said. “I understand that, but it was still frustrating for it to happen, conveniently, during midterms.”

Faculty and students both suffered through the calamity.

“It meant we could not get access to our files,” said Sharon Blanton, the chief information officer at PSU’s Office of Information Technology.

Blanton confirmed the outage impacted one-fourth of D2L’s customers worldwide.

“Unfortunately it is something that is completely out of our control, so we were at their mercy,” Blanton said.

D2L doesn’t regularly have problems. It was down about a year ago, but not for as long as the recent outage, she said.

“As far as we know they have completed their repairs and everything should be OK now,” Blanton said. “It’s really frustrating for us to just sit here and not be able to do anything. There’s absolutely nothing we can do.”

PSU contacted D2L about the problem.

“We’re so sorry,” Blanton said. “We’ve spoken [to people] all the way up to the CEO of D2L, and he is extremely apologetic.”

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