D2L Software Updates
Our D2L vendor based in Ontario, Canada, provides updates and upgrades to their software in the form of hot fixes, maintenance releases and version releases. The updates are first taken into our QA where they are tested before being taken in Production. A downtimes schedule is established prior to the academic year so users will know in advance which dates and times the system may be unavailable. The Office of the Chancellor System Site Administrators (SSAs) notify Campus Site Administrators (CSAs) when the downtimes will be used. CSAs in turn notify users at their schools.
Production and QA (Quality Assurance) Environments
The Production environment is where faculty load their course materials and students participate in classes. Courses range from those taught entirely online, to blended courses where students meet with the instructor face-to-face for some or all class meetings, and D2L is used to supplement the course. The Production environment is available 24/7 worldwide, wherever users can access a web browser. (Exceptions are downtimes for hot fixes, maintenance releases and software upgrades.)
QA (Quality Assurance)
The QA environment is used to test hot fixes, updates and upgrades before taking them into Production. The QA environment is available to campus site administrators, trainers and faculty, but is for testing purposes only. QA is a reflection of production and is refreshed (overwritten) with the current production courses on a semi-regular basis. For this reason, QA is not the place to develop course materials, as any work performed in QA will eventually be overwritten. QA is a valuable resource for testing fixes and updates to ensure they will perform as expected before taking them into Production. QA is also useful for troubleshooting problems without affecting the courses in Production.
Hot Fixes and Maintenance Releases
A hot fix is typically a single fix to a single issue in D2L. Maintenance releases are typically a group of fixes to multiple issues in D2L. Some maintenance releases also introduce new features. Maintenance releases are numbered consecutively, and are referenced as MR1, MR2, etc. Most maintenance releases require some downtime.
Version releases typically include a variety of new or improved features as well as fixes to current known issues. Versions are numbered consecutively as 8.0, 8.1, 8.1.2, etc. Major changes are signified by major number changes. (For example, moving from version 7.4 to version 8.1 is a more significant change than from 8.1 to 8.1.2.) Version releases require more lead time to prepare for than hot fixes or maintenance releases. Significant changes in version releases require training for faculty, students, trainers and site administrators. Version releases typically require longer downtimes than MRs or hot fixes.
D2L provides release notes that identify changes in maintenance releases and software updates and upgrades. Release notes are available in the Documentation section of the D2L Community site. To learn more visit the Desire2Learn Community Information page, including enrollment and access information for instructors and administrators.