College needs to work harder

I don’t talk much about my college, and today was my first day back after Christmas. I’m not impressed. After all, it’s taxpayer’s money which funds my education & funds the people that educate me. Are tax payers being shortchanged? Yes, undoubtably.

It’s my first day back at college after the christmas break. I’m in on time as usual, dragging myself out of bed and expecting a full day of classes. I’m due 6 hours of classes today and here’s what has happened;

  • First class – grand, we were let go 20 minutes early (acceptable for first day back).
  • Second class – cancelled as lecturer wasn’t available. Now i don’t know what the reason for that was, so i can’t say anything more.
  • Third class – grand, we actually did some work.
  • Fourth class – let go 35 minutes early.
  • Fifth class (double) – cancelled due to software not being ready on PC’s.

Now ok, you might say this is the first day back, we’re just getting settled in or whatever but the reality is this isn’t the staff’s first day back. Where was the planning / preparation / contingency plans?

Technology is something DKIT pride itself on, but at grass roots level, it’s poor. Our email server is CONSTANTLY riddled with errors and problems. Networks have had problems with speed, uptime is poor across the board…

Our networking lab is a disgrace – full of faulty cables / routers / PC’s from 2000… Not acceptable.

For the past few days, i’d been trying to access my email account & the computing website to check out my new timetable – i couldn’t. Both services were down and had been for days. It wasn’t a one off either. This happens regularly.

Have a look at our computing department website which has been like this for MONTHS;

DKIT dcam errors

That’s nothing short of disgraceful. Not only is the site itself terribly designed (i can live with that), there are errors galore and although you guys don’t know it… it’s offline more than online.

The timetable section also has errors. One of the features (find me a free lab now) doesn’t work properly…

DKIT dcam site

On to the main dkit website and there has been a problem in Firefox with top navigation for as long as i can remember. Slight layout issue, but it’s not perfect and for a college, it should be. There’s an army of IT lecturers and students here.

DKIT homepage

One of the main features all students and staff use is email – the email link is Try and find it on the main homepage – go on, tell me where it is?

That’s right, there is none… if you want to get to email, you either need to remember the url, search for ‘webmail’ or go to student life > student links > webmail. This isn’t a big deal to the likes of me, but to a new student or non tech savvy student – it’s not very user friendly.

Similarly we all use ‘Moodle’ (open source educational software) to submit assigments / view notes etc… again there is no link on the homepage to that.

These are things which annoy me. Small detail. Why not do something creative with students and let them design a new template for the site or control the site to some extent? Refresh it every 12 months to keep things fresh and modern.

College benefits from free labour and artistic flair… students benefit from a bit of experience and something more to put on a CV… it’s a win win, no?

Where’s the college twitter account, blog or even social network? Why isn’t education through social networking being adopted and encouraged? It’s all about communication & connections and hundreds and thousands of potential solid, long term connections are being lost because of a lack of vision and a lack of effort.

At the minute, all communication is centered around email. That’s so out of date… even forums are out of date. Some colleges are even doing away with college email accounts now… if DKIT is to become a great college or a great university, it needs to up it’s game drastically.

Lecturers should be on time, not 10/15 minutes late as is the case quite often. Students not on time should not be allowed enter. ALL classes should be recorded and put up on the internet for us to look back over…. podcasts at the very least. A social network should be built and the college should encourage more casual online communication between both staff and students.

These are things which seperate good from world class… student’s can’t be blamed for lecturers turning up late… student’s can’t be blamed for servers crashing or stressing out…

These guys need to do their job properly and this lax-a-daisy attitude should be stamped out. There are exceptions to the rule of course, certain equipment and certain staff are flawless.

But i should not have the time to be writing this blog post and i do… i’ve 4 hours to write it and perfect it… make the blade as sharp as possible. Who’s to blame for that mammoth amount of free time? DKIT. I’m hungry, i’m eager to learn & work – as is proved by this post – i could easily have spent my time dossing about.

Maybe i’m being over critical, maybe i’m a being a perfectionist…. maybe i am, but so what – is that a bad thing? At the end of the day, i’ve been given ammunition to write this post and i shouldn’t have been given it.

These are tough times right across the country, and now is the time to up the work rate, up the creativity and energy levels – there should be an edge to everyone’s performance… it’s too easy and too cosy for both staff and students in education. If the economy is to throw itself in front of education and take a bullet for us during these dark days, we need to reward it big time in the future…

4 thoughts on “College needs to work harder”

  1. The funny thing is i went onto the DCAM website earlier and those errors were actually gone! and then i went back on less than an hour later and they were back again, just goes to show you that no matter if they fix it they cant keep it running right!

  2. Scandalous …

    The college should be named and shamed.

    With standards like this IT in this country will end up being in the dark ages shortly.

    Great post Sean … act upon it … send it on.

    I’m sure Silicon Republic would be shocked at its contents.

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