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Desire2Learn Learning Suite Update Beefs Up Mobile, Accessibility Tools

Desire2Learn has introduced new functionality to its learning management suite, including new predictive analytics tools, improvements on the mobile and e-portfolio fronts, and an important addition in the area of accessibility.

The update primarily includes new analytics functionality targeted specifically to higher education. In January the company announced its acquisition of Degree Compass, technology developed at Austin Peay State University designed to help students and advisors make more informed choices in course selection. Now the program will be made more broadly available for use by other institutions beyond those already running it. In addition, Desire2Learn is launching Student Success System, which provides data that can help an instructor identify overall course risks and student progress.

Along with the analytics, there are other enhancements to the company's product line. Although Desire2Learn already supports mobile devices on multiple platforms, the latest release bolsters the company's Binder function. Binder is a reader that runs on iPads and allows the user to interact with PDF and Microsoft Office files, HTML, and other documents. With the update, Binder allows the student to take all course content and go offline with it, including being able to write on top of it, annotate it, share notes, and connect to other sources outside of the Desire2Learn environment, including to the contents of a Microsoft SkyDrive or Dropbox.com repository.

With this set of updates the company has also made its accessible HTML templates available on its Web site. As D2L CEO and President John Baker explained, "You can actually import [a template] into any of our competitors' [products] or use it in our environment as a great way to create content that's more accessible. We're shifting away from having just a platform that's more accessible to having content that's more accessible."

A faculty member, for example, can pick a template to create a syllabus, and the use of that template will ensure that the content created by the instructor is "accessible, mobile friendly, and designed to work across all the different devices and screen readers," Baker noted. "That's a huge innovation that we think will have an impact from an accessibility perspective."

Desire2Learn has also announced that graduates that have created a digital portfolio of their work using ePortfolio will be able to continue using them after graduation. MyDesire2Learn "grants them 2 GB of free storage into which they can move their school content and personal artifacts."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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