Brightspace, the online learning tool formerly known as Springboard, has been up and running for over three weeks now. However, the much-hailed, feared, and discussed switch has come and gone without noticeable reaction. Perhaps, in this case, no news is good news.
Many students and professors have few complaints in regards to Brightspace, created by software company, D2L. Answers to questions about the new system were usually accompanied by nods and shrugs that showed approval but lacked any real enthusiasm. Yet, before Brightspace was to be put through its paces, there was a transition period that mainly impacted faculty members.
On Aug. 24, Springboard went dark and the following day, the sun rose on Brightspace. As promised by the Information Technology Services web page, uakron.edu/it, all existing classes created on Springboard were transferred to Brightspace. Other than the occasional mistake of calling the new tool by the old name, the faculty have had minimal issues with finding their online materials.
Dr. Kathryn Feltey, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, said, “so far, so good.” Her experience has been problem free and she said, “the environment is largely the same.” However, she wondered if the situation would become complicated, in the future, when she begins teaching a course that is completely online.
Assistant Chair of the English department, Mary Biddinger, had some reservations about transitioning to a new system during the beginning of a semester, one of the busiest times of the year. Her fears notwithstanding, she said she, “found the shift from Springboard to Brightspace to be fairly seamless,” and although she, “had to adjust a couple of settings, it only took a few minutes to become acclimated.” Dr. Biddinger was also able to find all her previous materials.
Dr. Oghenetoja Okoh, assistant professor in the History department, took a proactive approach to aid the transition process. “I made sure that I built all my classes for the semester before they made the transition so that all they had to do was shift everything,” she said. For Dr. Okoh, navigating Brightspace feels familiar and she also had some praise for the new system.
Describing the aesthetics, Dr. Okoh said, “It’s cleaner looking. For me, it feels like it’s a little less clunky. I like the look of it.” She would, however, like the ability to integrate social media with a specifically tagged Twitter feed used in her course titled Modern Africa.
This virtually painless experience has been reflected by many students’ comments on Brightspace.
Mechanical engineering student, Ebanee Bond, and anthropology student, Alyssa Perrone, both agree that their initial encounter with Brightspace was disorienting but that it was only momentary. Perrone said, “once you get used to it it’s fine.” Bond had some trouble finding her courses in the beginning but she said, “other than that I think it’s similar to Springboard, honestly.”
Corey Cargill, a graphic design student, said he, “really like[s] it, aesthetically, and it’s a more simple version of Springboard.” Like Dr. Okoh, Cargill said, “it’s not as clunky to me.” Megan Delong, sociology and criminology student, agrees with Cargill and she said, “[Brightspace] almost exactly does the same exact thing for me that Springboard did.”
Cargill mentioned that he does like the idea of the Brightspace Pulse application that is available from the Google Play and Apple stores but he has not downloaded or used it yet. Delong tried the app in the beginning of the semester but was frustrated by some issues and has since deleted it. As of the writing of this article, the app has been tested and used, and is working.
Overall, the general sentiment concerning Brightspace is ho-hum, if not completely positive. Brightspace is regarded as basically the same as Springboard but a little less cluttered and more pleasing to the eye. Many people hinted that those who have had a negative experience, so far, might have an aversion to change or be allergic to technology. Whichever might be the case, there is help to be found at uakron.edu/it/ and a phone number and live chat function on the Brightspace homepage.
In the words of The Who, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”