It's Learning is a disaster|
15.01.07 22:26 ]
Students and employees rage against NTNU's It's Learning deal. Incompetance with the university management is to blame, says professor Martin Ystenes.
[This is an unofficial translation by Vidar Holen. The original, Norwegian article is available here.]
|DOES NOT LISTEN: Professor Martin Ystenes says NTNU holds on to a system people do not want. (Photo: Magnus B. Willumsen)
Many students and teachers had big problems when NTNU's e-learning system It's Learning was unavailable the days before the start of the semester. When the system was finally available on January 8., the load was so big that the servers broke down.
It was impossible to publish necessary course information to the students. I don't understand how anyone can have approved a system upgrade the weekend before the start of the semester. That this happens now is arrogance from It's Learning, says professor Martin Ystenes from NTNU.
Nedetiden har resultert i en klagestorm til Orakeltjenesten, og til tider var det umulig å få hjelp.
The downtime resulted in a storm of complaints to the Oracle service [NTNU's IT support department], and at times it was impossible to get support.
The problem is that It's Learning is not adapted to NTNU's users. It does not take into account the needs we have. Instead it's full of «cool» functions made for high school students. NTNU has a far too passive attitude as customer. If a company had spent so many resources on something that was not adapted to the need, it would be a disaster, says Ystenes
The management does not listen
Ystenes explains that he has rapported problems with the learning system many times, but that he is not taken seriously.
One does not prioritise teaching on NTNU. Our most important function as a university is the production of students. On NTNU we learn that there is no point in making demands. No one does for education, to put it that way.
The professor wants to, amongst other things, to use It's Learning to register assignments, but does not think it's adapted at all to large courses with many students
NTNU has fervently held on to a system they know many are dissatisfied with. When the university in addition can't make It's learning deliver a system that is more functional for us, it testifies to a lack of competence or interest.
Will keep the system.
Deputy principal at NTNU Julie Feilberg disagrees that the problem is with management.
The decision to use It's Learning as a e-learning system is made on a factual basis. There has not been any discussion of getting rid of the system either. What has been taken up in the educational committee until now has been the openness in the It's Learning system. Many have pointed out that there is not enough openness around course information, she says
Has there at any point been a discussion about whether or not NTNU should make it's own e-learning system?
No, when we chose the platform this was not an option. A solution we develope ourselves will be a lot more expensive. For me, the educational is most important. We will first and foremost find out how we can make the learning support system better pedagogically. Whether the system is homemade or not is not important
Married for another year
It's Learning has been in use on NTNU since the spring 2003. Ever since it was decided that the learning system was to be instituted, many have expressed frustration over the lack of functionality and usability. Section manager Knut eium for educational administrative support systems regret that the upgrade of It's Learning was done during the start of the semester.
This was caused by an error with the supplier. We had not taken into account that the upgrade would coincide with the start of the semester. We evaluate the problem and ensure that it will not happen again, says Veium.
There has not yet been a discussion about whether NTNU will keep the controversial learning system, but the section manager can tell us that the system will stay for a while.
We have a deal with It's Learning until the end of 2007. So we are married to the system for at least another year, he says.
Coordinator of It's Learning Cecilie Aurvoll with NTNU does not want to comment on how much the university pays for the use of It's Learning. The contract that is signed with the company that offers the system is withheld from the public.
What we can say is that we have a contract we are satisfied with, and which was carefully evaluated before entered. It was evaluated after a bidding round in 2002, where It's Learning won out, she says.