UB will be employing a new ePortfolio tool for the fall 2020 semester, Director of UB Curriculum Danielle LaMarre-Smith announced on June 10.
UB will be transitioning from Digication to UBLearns at the beginning of August, after students and faculty complained that Digication is “seriously flawed in some areas” and could be “hard to use and format.”
LaMarre-Smith argued that the transition “streamlines important UB processes into one system” and that the UB community should derive benefit from it, since it already has experience using UBLearns for other objectives.
In 2016, school administrators chose Digication to be its original pilot ePortfolio for the UB Capstone, a one-credit course that is needed for graduation. At the time, UB paid a per-seat license fee for Digication, at a cost of approximately $35,000 per year.
In the last four years, the yearly fee for Digication has increased incrementally. In 2020, it grew to about $90,000, a nearly 156% increase from 2016. The yearly fee increase was intended to support a 280% increase in the number of seats purchased by UB administration.
Simultaneously, students and faculty were growing increasingly impatient with the platform, which they said hampered their ability to learn and teach.
“Both students and faculty asked for improvements in user experience, the user interface, and formatting options for the portfolios, as well as better integration with other UB systems such as UBLearns,” Dawn M. Reed, director of Interdivisional Marketing and Communication, wrote in an email.
Students and faculty alike submitted feedback about Digication to Lemarre-Smith’s team, and they were unequivocal about their disdain for it.
“I’m aware that UB is terminating its contract with Digication, but to repeat the refrain from other faculty, it’s AWFUL,” one faculty member wrote. “I spent so much of my time this semester dealing with students’ confusion over the terrible UI” — user interface — “and the multiple catastrophic errors that resulted in the need to alter deadlines and forward countless requests to tech support.”
Another instructor called Digication “a cool concept,” but said that it didn’t deliver when faculty and students needed it most.
“[T]he platform failed students repeatedly,” the faculty member wrote. “This was unfair to students, and also made it challenging to create a standard of accountability. It makes more work for instructors to manage student concerns. It’s a bummer that it hasn’t worked more effectively.”
UB is ending its contract with Digication on July 30. After that, students and faculty will no longer be able to retrieve content on the platform, so they are encouraged to download and save their artifacts to a personal storage device.
Reed said the transition is necessary to ensure that the Capstone class — UBC 399 — is delivered in an “innovative” way.
“We recognize the need to continuously improve our processes and to ensure UB provides an exceptional academic experience that serves as a foundation for long-term success and prepares our students to meet the demands of our global community,” Reed wrote.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated "In 2020, it grew to about $95,000, a nearly 172% increase from 2016." The figures have been changed to due to more accurate numbers being presented to The Spectrum.
CORRECTION CONTINUED: A previous version of this article stated "In the last four years, the yearly fee for Digication has increased incrementally. In 2020, it grew to about $90,000, a nearly 156% increase from 2016." A section stating "The yearly fee increase was intended to support a 280% increase in the number of seats purchased by UB administration," has been added to provide additional context for the price increases.
Justin Weiss is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.