Learn platform and Covid test booking site crash in the same week

Since the beginning of the semester, most teaching at the University of Edinburgh has been online. However, with both Learn, the University’s online academic platform, and the online booking system for the University’s coronavirus testing centre crashing over the weekend, many students are starting to question how effective the university’s online systems really are.

Any student will tell you that Learn is a vital tool when completing both academic and administrative tasks online, and this dependence has only been enhanced this term, with face to face teaching becoming minimal for the majority of courses. On Sunday the 22nd of November the Learn server went offline, meaning hundreds of students weren’t able to access the sites that have become the cornerstone of their learning. Indeed, all associated sites, including Path and DiscoverEd also became inaccessible, which with only a fortnight before the end of the semester has caused a few students to question how efficient the University have been at handling the switch to online learning. The Student caught up with Betty, a second year, who was completing work when Learn went down. She admitted that she had found this ongoing battle with the university technology “really disheartening”. What seems to have frustrated most students however, is the lack of communication when services go offline, with no warning emails be sent round many feel they have “been left in the dark”.

A spokesperson told The Student that the University of Edinburgh are “working hard to guarantee that university sites and portals can support all of our students optimally, especially over the exam period.” More pertinently however, “the university is also implementing an institution wide improvement programme for Learn”, hopefully meaning that crashes such as last weekend’s will become less frequent. The Student also found that the University has undergone “a £7 million investment”, and will “replace all the WiFi and networking in halls of residence to provide [students] with state-of-the-art, super-fast connection.” This will not however effect current first years, as the new digital infrastructure will be implemented for next year’s freshers, to the disappointment of many.

The university’s new webpage for booking a coronavirus test crashed within twenty minutes of going live last week, leaving many of the students believing that all of the tests were “sold out”. As the term nears its end and students anticipate going home for the holidays, getting a coronavirus test is becoming more and more of a concern. While voluntary for Scottish universities, many students are insisting on taking a test before their return to ensure the safety of their family members. As a result of this, when the website crashed, many were unnerved, adding to a growing fear of not being able to return for Christmas, which for freshers like Irina (Brae House) is creating “a lot of anxiety and concern.” President of EUSA, Ellen MacRae, told The Student that she understood the “frustration and concern this must have caused”, but encouraged that “students can be confident that if they want a test, they will be able to access one.”

What seems apparent, is that ever since the first day of online university, Learn and its related pages have been crashing, causing many students to wonder if these problems will indeed be fixed by next semester – or whether we should all become accustomed to these technical difficulties until the greatly anticipated return of face to face teaching.

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