Another dot in the blogosphere?

Downtime creates distrust

Posted on: September 9, 2018

I am disappointed that I have not received replies to my tweets to administrators of a university’s learning management system (LMS).

The system went down unexpectedly last Tuesday afternoon and then again on Wednesday. The second outage was much longer. I still could not access the LMS shortly after midnight (Thursday).

An LMS should be a core and always-on service if a university is to consider itself world-class and first-class. After all, it is a repository of information, and in the course I facilitate, for assignment submission and feedback.

The outage meant that students could have missed submission deadlines. Facilitators like me had to compress the assignment-related tasks: Reading, providing feedback, grading, re-processing, etc. We had less time to do the same amount of work. This elevated stress for all of us.

I question the wisdom of providing social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) if they are not manned and therefore do not respond.

It was about a year ago that I used to get prompt responses from LMS support via Twitter. That continuity has not been sustained and I suspect that loss of positions and/or changes in leadership are to blame.

To be fair, other more open platforms also go dark or are subject to periods of maintenance. However, these platforms are subject to larger use and the downtime is minimised by relatively quick backend responses.

Take my use of Padlet, for example. It was down for maintenance about two hours before a morning class. I was ready for a contingency, but when I tested it again right before class it was back up.

Platform reliability creates trust. LMS downtime and a lack of communication breaks that trust and broods aversion. If I have to outsource some of the trust I build with learners to some other party, I will continue keeping resources platforms other than LMS.

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