It has been a busy summer on the IT front. Now that classes are underway I expect to begin blogging again more consistently.
My team at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities spent considerable time this summer upgrading our Desire2Learn (our Learning Management System) environment to v8.3 and then preparing for the full onslaught of fall startup. The upgrade to v8.3 went smoothly earlier in the summer. This is the first year in which all 32 MnSCU institutions started term on the same date (8/25/2008).
Since we support one of the largest eLearning environments in the country, if not the world, the prospects of a common start date and a new version of the D2L software became a great source of anxiety for me and my team. We shored up all the levees and then checked and rechecked everything that we could think of. We also put in new management and communication protocols,, modeled on NIMS, for handling emergency incidents and crises. The Desire2Learn team, including CEO John Baker, did everything possible to ensure success.
Fall startup of our D2L has gone very smoothly thus far and we have broken all kinds of records for scalability and performance. First day of classes our login count was 222,053 users. Our page hits on the first day was nearly 30 million, 36% more than our previous record. System load included computationally intensive functions and not just static page views.
All in all the system has held up remarkably well under severe load and we are very happy, indeed. Best of all our customers, particularly Faculty, are very happy that Fall startup went so smoothly.
Lessons Learned: Treat Fall Startup as a separate Project. Plan, Plan, Plan. It pays off.