Charles BristowA large part of my time recently has been spent shepherding projects involving new systems. One is ReggieNet, the system that is replacing Blackboard; the other is a new registration system for CTLT events that has been developed as a channel in iCampus by the folks at IWSS. Both have suffered from some growing pains, as we figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each system. And yet we have great hopes for both of these.

All this new stuff reminds me of a story that was related to me recently, by someone who had an appointment at a medical facility. The facility was apparently in the process of switching to a new record keeping system, and had posted signs saying “Please pardon our virtual dust.” I was pretty amused when I heard that, as it was a new expression to me, but it seemed very appropriate. When we’re working with new technologies, there might not be any actual dust like you get with a physical renovation, but with the new systems we are trying to put into place, we’ve got virtual dust galore.

As with any new system, we have had a few glitches in both of our projects, but we still believe we’re headed in the right direction. Preliminary feedback for both has been mostly positive so far.

The instructors in our pilot group for ReggieNet have been plugging away, and an initial survey indicates that so far, things are going pretty well. Most tools were rated as being Easy or Very easy to use by the pilot faculty who responded to the survey.  Some (maybe not so) random comments that we received:

Overall, I believe ReggieNet is an improvement over Blackboard. I have very few problems and am happy!

Fully online course – it is going well and is user friendly. Glitches mentioned above, otherwise I think this is going to be a great replacement.

Fantastic thus far, we will see as the semester gets busier and pressure on students to do more on reggienet increases.

We have also had very little in the way of student difficulties so far. We do expect more questions to arise as more people use the new system, but we are confident that the Helpdesk will be prepared to assist with technical problems as they are identified.

All of this just acts as a reminder that adopting a new technology takes some adjustment for all those involved. The main thing to remember is that we always want to be sure that our choice of technology fosters student learning. Such adoptions also require some patience and understanding on the part of the users, and I have to say that our pilot faculty have been great in that regard.

So we will continue to do our utmost to make these new systems as user-friendly as possible, and to provide support when necessary. We hope to be able to clean up our virtual dust soon, so we can avoid any outbreaks of virtual sneezing.