One domain to rule them all

By Stephanie Youssef

Over spring break, I had to reinstall my web browser and go through the process of reconfiguring all of my settings. The most tedious of the reconfigurations was linking seven different home pages for all of my classes to the favorites bar of the browser.

I couldn’t help but realize how ridiculous it is to have so many different online portals for classes. Between Compass2g, Lon Capa, Moodle, Piazza, Blackboard Chat, Smartphysics, WebAssign, Atlas, and individual professor websites, students have a lot of different links to juggle.

In order to increase efficiency for students, University course coordinators and administrators should put more effort into reducing the number of portals used by classes for linking online resources.

Some may say that keeping track of the student portals has to do with organizational skills. However, there is a difference between developing true organizational skills and just developing an obsession with checking every website every night. Organizational skills have to do with time management, avoiding clutter, not procrastinating and prioritization. The University system with class portals is cluttered to begin with. It’s the difference between learning to maintain a clean, organized room and knowing where everything is in a messy room.

The system is so convoluted that missing an online assignment or quiz isn’t due to disorganization alone.

Kimberly Ziolkowski, a senior in the College of Engineering says “checking the different links becomes tedious. There are so many websites we have to follow to get to the course webpage, homework assignments, quizzes and so on. Luckily, I’ve never missed a submission deadline, though I have used a lot of time searching around to make sure this didn’t happen.”

There are many departments across the University that are switching from old domains like Lon Capa to more updated domains like Compass2g. But instead of transitioning all of the classes at once, students are stuck with some of their classes on old websites, some on updated portals and some requiring the use of both.

For example, as a molecular and cellular biology major, my classmates and I have to endure the unnecessarily slow transition the MCB department is making from life.illinois.edu to Moodle. I even have one class this semester that uses four different student portals. The course home page is life.illinois.edu, which links to Moodle for access to the posted class PowerPoints, Lon Capa for the online quizzes and Atlas for checking grades — all for one MCB class. Likewise, there are many other students in different classes from various departments that experience and recognize the same inefficiency.

Some may also say that the prevalence of so many interfaces is due to the fact that there are pros and cons to each one. However, many would argue that the differences between the various formats are so minute that it doesn’t matter — they all pretty much do the same thing. Students can take online quizzes on Lon Capa, Compass and Moodle alike. Additionally, professors can post lecture recordings, class announcements, PowerPoints, documents and class grades on all of them. The fact that one domain might be a little more convenient for one class is overshadowed by how inconvenient it is to have multiple different links to keep track of in the first place.

Robin Rice, a senior in the College of LAS, argues, “I understand that some sites may be a better fit for certain types of classes, but from the student’s perspective, it’s harder than necessary to keep the websites straight. It would be easier on everyone if everything were in one place.”

And therein lies the solution: Switching all classes to one domain. I understand that the process of changing websites won’t be easy. It will take patience from professors, course coordinators and students alike to help work out the kinks of introducing new class formats and online tools. But only needing to check one website for all classes is advantageous in that it saves time and leaves less room for potentially missing an assignment.

One website. One link. One domain to rule them all.

Stephanie is a junior in LAS.

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