I have been discussing the portal with a number of people around campus over the last few months. Improvement and expansion of the portal will be a key initiative for the next two years.
There are several reasons for this:
- The portal plays a key role in many important areas of the College’s activities. Grades, Registration, Advising, Student Billing and Alumni Directory are just some examples.
- We know that other institutions have more attractive and functional installations of the same portal software (JICS), so our instance of the portal can be made better too.
- Because of the fact that we collaborate with the other Claremont Colleges to provide cross-registration for students, moving to a completely different portal is not a simple proposition.
- Both Jenzabar, the company that provides the portal software, and AISO, the Pomona College unit that manages the underlying student information system, are committed to making improvements to the system, and we can build upon those. For instance, Pomona recently informed us that the back end database was handling 60 million transactions per day during the Fall pre-registration period. They have recently migrated the system from HP Unix to Linux, and are anticipating improvements in response times.
We have already taken the first steps in the portal improvement initiative. We are planning to create a Portal Advisory Group, with the following vision statement:
The portal is a tool which we know HMC has not used to its full capacity. This group will guide CIS and the College in improving and expanding use of the portal.
Registrar Mark Ashley has agreed to chair this group, which will include representation from the many areas that use the portal, as well as faculty and students. Among the tasks we will ask the group to undertake is to advise on the queuing of CIS projects related to the portal. They currently include:
- HSA Advising application
- 40+ Portal improvements suggested by Registrar
- Electronic Billing
- OCA requests
- Student research portlet and forms
- Single Sign On
- Adding a staff tab to the portal
John Trafecanty has recently taken over responsibility for the portal, as his duties related to Sakai were much reduced when we moved the Sakai service to Pomona College. John always bring talent and persistence to programming tasks, so we anticipate great work on the portal.
Watch for more updates on this initiative and do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.