By Shannon Miller and Hayley Cohen, Co-Editor-In-Chief, Staff Writer
Students who use the occasionally faulty MyLIU mobile application to access their school email and online courses, received an abundance of unexpected Blackboard push notifications on Friday, March 6, five days before the school alerted the community that classes would move online due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a crisis situation with unforeseen circumstances such as COVID-19, easy access to school email and Blackboard on a mobile device becomes essential. In precaution and forethought of a worse-case scenario, The Pioneer began an attempt on Feb. 27 to report on the app’s technical difficulties mentioned by some students.
“I don’t use the app because it’s never worked for me,” Claudia Turczynska, a junior accounting major, said. “I always had difficulty using the app for various reasons, like receiving emails, so I only use my computer to go on to the school website and to check my mail. I make sure to bring my laptop with me to school daily to avoid the issue of using the app.”
The Pioneer initially reached out to the Information Technology Department (IT) to ask questions about how often the MyLIU app is updated, who students can contact for assistance with the app, and how students can receive alerts on their mobile devices when a new email is received.
“We cannot directly answer any questions,” a member of IT said in an email response on Feb. 27. “To get your questions answered you will need to reach out to the dean of students with them.”
Immediately following IT’s direction, The Pioneer reached out to Dean of Students Michael Berthel for answers. He replied that he would work with IT but may have difficulty getting the department to respond by the requested deadline. Understanding the quick turnaround request, The Pioneer extended the deadline into the following week.
After not hearing back from Berthel, The Pioneer sent him a follow up email on March 2, and again on March 6, the day before students and faculty would break for spring vacation. The dean emailed the LIU community just seven hours later with a COVID-19 update, advising those with plans to travel internationally be mindful of the potential risk of disruption to their ability to reenter the country. The email also addressed the required 14-day self-quarantine for anyone returning to campus from an area designated as Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)
But for some who say they can’t receive emails or email alerts on their mobile devices, important updates which require immediate attention can potentially go unnoticed, especially during a time such as spring break when students and faculty don’t necessarily check their email regularly.
Access to email through the MyLIU app stopped working for some at the start of the spring 2020 semester, which is also when the CDC began to confirm cases of COVID-19 in the United States.
Daryl Miller, an accounting major who transferred from Post to Nassau Community College last semester, said she consistently had issues when she used the MyLIU app.
“I wasn’t able to get in touch with my math professor to let her know that I would be late for class one day due to traffic because the app wouldn’t take me to the email section, so I had to wait until I had access to a computer to contact her,” she said.
A survey conducted through Instagram on March 11 revealed that 90 percent of students polled had received a blast of Blackboard notifications on March 6, some of which were for courses taken in previous semesters. This indicated to some that the school was preparing to move classes online, which presented another complaint among some students – the quality of WiFi on campus.
“I find LIU’s internet and WiFi to be atrocious,” Justin Simon, a senior business administration major, said.
Berthel and President Kimberly Cline each sent out an email on March 11 alerting the campus community that instruction would be moved online effective Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27. Berthel sent another email later that day which stated a member of the LIU community, whose office is in the Pell Hall Life Sciences building, tested positive for the coronavirus. The school then followed with a mass text message the following day which said the university decided that all online instruction would extend until the end of the spring 2020 semester.
As of Monday, March 17, The Pioneer has yet to receive a response from Berthel or the IT department, but all links on the mobile version of the MyLIU app are not working.
“When it comes to their app, it’s a disaster and a disappointment. I stopped using the app a while ago because of the technical difficulties,” Simon said.
Update: The links on the MyLIU mobile app began working again as of March 24, 2020.