Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Desire2Learn 10.3 upgrade coming this summer

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We will be upgrading our Desire2Learn learning environment to version 10.3 on June 18th, 2014. We were very happy with how the 10.1 upgrade went last year and our staff are working to ensure another smooth transition. I wanted to share with you a rough timeline of events leading to the upgrade as well as an overview of some of the major changes.

The good news is that this is a relatively minor upgrade compared to the last version and we believe most users will get all the information they need from this upgrade overview video.


Winter 2014: Announce update and timeline to faculty, review overview video, offer webinars to cover upgrade, develop training materials, and schedule upgrade sessions for Spring.

Spring 2014: Announce upgrade to students and provide overview videos that cover “what’s different” format for existing students. Continue to announce update to faculty and offer optional upgrade workshops.

Spring-Summer Break week 2014: Upgrade Desire2Learn environment on Wednesday (6/18) between terms.

Summer 2014: Classes will be taught on version 10.3

Preparing for Summer 2014

Like the last upgrade, your summer courses will become available during spring term. You can update your summer courses as you would normally and the upgrade will update the software on June 18th and not affect any changes you’ve made for summer.

Overview of changes

The 10.1 upgrade was a significant change from the previous version. 10.3 was released in October of 2013 and continues to bring minor updates to tools to fit the new design. It has also made several refinements based on feedback from users. You’re welcome to skip the dry text and watch a 10.3 update overview video narrated by Jim Johnstone.


This is probably the biggest single change. The discussion tool has been overhauled to improve the flow of conversation. The “Grid” view has been retired, leaving an updated version of the “Reading” view. The reading view allows for smoother in-line discussion. The discussion also allows for posts to be “rated” by students, allowing a plus or minus (or just plus) on posts.

Equation Editor

Desire2Learn has replaced the aging Java-based equation editor with a JavaScript-based, HTML5 friendly editor that will make you and your students’ lives easier when creating equations. No more barrage of security warnings, plus, it works on tablets. (Two of our own math faculty worked with a senior developer to explore and give feedback on equation editor options in 2013)


Two somewhat minor updates that are likely to be popular are the ability to submit a grade and feedback for students who did not submit a file through the dropbox (e.g. they e-mailed it to you or handed it to you in class) and the ability to do bulk uploads of files with feedback.


The content tool has been updated to allow for easier updating of content and activities, easier navigation (the side panel can collapse), and remembers where you were last time you visited. If you have pages that open in a new window, the content area will tell you that the page opened in a new window.

And there’s a number of improvements that have been made to the administrative side that probably won’t interest anyone else.

What’s next?

We are hosting a couple webinars to show the functionality and get your feedback about changes to help us prepare documentation, training and support. These webinars will take place in Collaborate. (Meeting URL) We’ll record the meetings as well for those who cannot attend (though the overview video is probably a better resource)

About Andy Freed

I'm the Manager of Technology and Support in the Distance Education department, where I oversee our infrastructure, technical support, and online student services group. I've been with the College since 2001 and have worked in several posit... more »