Skip to Content

How D2L is Changing Learning in a Changing World

Inside Luv2Pak’s Pivot To Helping Provide PPE To Front-Line Workers

By April Oman, Senior Vice President of Customer Engagement For the last 20 years, our unofficial motto at D2L, a Canadian-headquartered education-technology company, has been “changing the way the world learns.” We’ve been steadily delivering on that motto year after year, growing into a global

By April Oman, Senior Vice President of Customer Engagement

For the last 20 years, our unofficial motto at D2L, a Canadian-headquartered education-technology company, has been “changing the way the world learns.” We’ve been steadily delivering on that motto year after year, growing into a global leader in online and blended learning in leading K-12 classrooms, colleges, universities and corporations through our Brightspace platform.

When COVID-19 struck, however, suddenly institutions around the world realized they urgently needed to change.

In the last two decades, many companies and schools embraced a blend of in-person and online learning. But overnight, those existing customers — as well as many institutions and organizations that have never used a learning platform — suddenly had to move to a digital first model. Supporting that unprecedented, rapid and global shift was a massive, all-hands-on-deck undertaking for all of D2L. I think we more than rose to the occasion – and our customers think so too as evidence by the kudos seen in social media.

Three months into the crisis, our deployment of resources and teams to quickly onboard new customers are a textbook case of business agility, strategic thinking and determination — all enabled by digital technologies to provide the best possible business outcomes.

Looking at The Data, and Preparing Accordingly

To move forward quickly, the D2L team made a counterintuitive decision: we decided to look backwards.

The first step involved looking at historical data to analyze and minimize potential infrastructure availability issues. Like many businesses, we know that there are times of the year where our platform will face increased demands, such as exam periods in schools, or when schools or corporate training sessions start up after the summer.

We began figuring out how to scale our IT to meet the expectations, even though it was clear that all its previous models would be blown out of the water.

We treated the COVID-19 onboarding rush like it was a school startup period. We took our semester start graph to see what normally happens over a period of 10 weeks around labour day and overlaid it on what was happening around March 23, and it looks like the same pattern — plus some, because obviously all of our corporate clients have moved digital-first, too.

Use of video alone has grown by 2500%+, requiring strategic use of IT resources to maintain a quality experience.

Besides looking internally at what we could deliver, we also had to look across all the integrations within our ecosystem to make sure our partners had a clear business continuity plan and, where necessary, to advise them if it wasn’t sufficient to ensure a strong customer experience.

We’re a learning company first and a technology company second. We would never advise a customer to adopt something that wasn’t in the best interest of learners — and we work hard with our customers to find the best-possible outcome.

Accelerating Time to Value for Customers

Once the quality and scalability of our services were ensured, we also had to rethink the way we onboard customers, particularly new ones, and minimize the disruption that COVID-19 might have caused. To address this, we introduced a “Quick Start” program, which helps accelerate getting customers up and running with Brightspace.

As well, we offered deferred usage costs for the first three months, built new online resources to support the shift to digital first, ramped up and added capacity on our service teams, surveyed and connected with customers to measure progress and shared business continuity plans openly.

As a team, we carefully review each new customer to assess their most urgent needs, removing elements that may slow down the adoption process, creating a more custom package.

This was all done with the help of Salesforce technology. We funnel all those decisions through our automated deployment mechanism, which we have driven out of Salesforce, so the minute contracts are closed, it becomes available within one hour.

Of course, customers will always have questions and occasional challenges, but data-driven thinking played a strong role here, too. As a Service Cloud customer, we had a lot of expertise in how its business and education segments might be affected by COVID-19. Onboarding resources, training, release notes, and more are all available on the Brightspace online community, which is on Salesforce. Additional assets include blog posts, webinars, best practice guides and customer success stories. These resources empower customers to get ahead of potential problems. Based on what you’re trying to do and your persona, we have a plethora of assets on how we’re helping customers through COVID-19.

Building Resilience Across the Team

Behind the scenes, we are like most other companies where we were having to shift our office-based teams to working from home, and ensuring they had the right technologies was only one step.

Developing systems to keep internal communication flowing is key. At first we held daily standups and the senior leadership offered regular Ask Me Anything sessions to cover off important questions. We’ve used Slack to replace water-cooler chatter. All of this makes sure people stay connected and grounded at a very difficult time.

For many learners, the post-pandemic future is still foggy, but we’re continuing to push forward. We’re already more than a third of the way through the annual planning process we conduct for the Fall semester.

We’ve pivoted from our traditional advisory board type conversations to, ’What are you seeing in your respective environment? How ready were you? What will be the changes for the coming months? Even with the help D2L already provided – what can we do to facilitate the continued transition to engaging online learning ensuring that your goals are achieved? It’s not just about enrollment but what will happen in terms of content delivery, the entire learner experience.

We don’t know what’s going to happen. This might be the new normal for an extended period of time. When we say that we want to change the way the world learns, we mean it. And in a changing world, that’s never been a more important mission.

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.