Optimizing the digital experience

Jake Tapley

As I write this, BlackBoard is refusing to let me log in. Something about an “Authorization Failure” – I assure you I don’t know.

Now, if this was an isolated incident, I wouldn’t think too much of it. I understand that technology malfunctions, and that there’s a lot about coding and web developing that I don’t understand.

However, this semester has been full of IT problems. So, it’s time to address the bigger problem at hand: why it’s not okay.

Since we’ve decided to go digital (or at least semi-digital), there’s been a dramatic shift in the way our classes operate. BlackBoard has become the platform where we do most of our academic work, whether it’s simply perusing some important documents or, in some cases, taking a quiz or test.

With this being the case, a red flag immediately goes up in my head when I can’t access myUSI or BlackBoard. I have come to realize that I am no longer solely responsible for my education.

On the contrary, I am dependent on variables that are out of my control. I am dependent on people who I don’t know – people who, if I tried to contact them, would probably send me to someone else.

I know that there’s likely no going back from this system of dependence. So, I can only hope for the best-case scenario in which the people who we all rely on so much to retrieve and submit classwork, or even just check our email.

In fact, I’ve had several professors voice their complaints about this concern, in particular, saying that they need their students to be able to see their emails, which are often a last-minute kind of thing.

This means that it’s no longer acceptable for BlackBoard to be “temporarily down” (unless it’s for something like scheduled maintenance).
We all constantly live our lives under the assumption that technology will cooperate in our favor, and that we will able to schedule our lives accordingly.

The least we can ask is for the digital experience to be an optimal one.