Student Portal Project
Project Proposal Originators:
Deborah Scott, George Gregg, Alan Moses, Mark McGilvray, Christopher Dempsey, Doug Drury, James Kinneavy, Lubomir Bojilov
Project Implementers: The portal project will be managed utilizing a team approach. Members will be made up of students, staff and/or faculty who have a vested interest in the UCSB web portal environment. The Web Portal Team should have the ability and willingness to collaborate among diverse groups across the campus. The team will set the vision, mission and goals of the project and maintain responsibility for its success.
UCSB students, graduate students, staff from SA, Billing, Public Affairs, Housing, Academic Department staff, TAs, and faculty.
Recently, Vice Chancellor Young held a break-out session at the Student Affairs annual Professional Development Conference titled "Can You Hear Me Now? The Disconnect Between Students and Staff." The Vice Chancellor moderated a panel comprised of Student Affairs professional staff and UCSB students in a discussion about what is working and not working in staff-student relationships. During this one-hour session, a group of undergraduate students gave the Student Affairs staff some food for thought.
Based on this and other input, the following problems have been identified:
- Communication and customer service levels can be improved.
- Service providers across campus do not cooperate in their delivery strategies.
- There are redundant services provided by different entities.
- Student data is stored in islands across campus and is not quality in nature.
- We do not have experience in developing or coordinating university-wide applications.
Some of these problems can be addressed with web portal technology. Simply put, a web portal is a collection place, or jumping-off point, used to conduct business with our customers (students), share information with them, collaborate with them, and service their academic and administrative needs.
The web portal will seek to meet the needs of the students, staf, and faculty in an increasingly complex, knowledge-based community. Web architecture will be defined and deployed to provide secure portal features such as content management, collaboration, process management, multi-channel access, information retrieval, etc.
The following are definitions from Gartner of possible components of this web portal:
- Content Management: Including document management and Web content management, extending to digital asset management and support for rich media.
- Collaboration: Including messaging, alerting, real-time application sharing, presence and threaded discussions.
- Process Management: Targeting not the repetitive tasks supported by traditional workflow, but the ad hoc and dynamic activities characteristic of knowledge workers.
- Multichannel Access: Providing connectivity to a range of desktop and mobile devices via a mix of connectivity methods is supported for both content management and collaboration.
- Information Retrieval: Including information categorization, taxonomy generation, profiling and expertise location.
- Community Technology: Enabling functionality for building and maintaining online communities.
- SSO Authentication: Secure single sign-on access to all web portal locations and applications which are called from the portal.
As mentioned above, a cross-disciplined, cross-divisional team will make decisions on how to proceed with the portal (what it will look like, how it will function, who will work on it, how it will be managed, etc). The initial phases will include a collecting together of disparate web sites into a consistent user interface. Simple collaboration tools, forms processing and workflow might be the next phase. Eventually, enterprise applications and web services will emerge from the portal. The actual phase definitions and deliverables will be clearly defined by the team in a report to the IT Board.
Technology does not solve problems by itself. The team must be made up of individuals committed to changing the way business is done to quickly adapt to the changing needs of the customers.
UCSB Visionary Requirements
- Service levels provided to students can be improved.
- Enhancements to services can be made by listening to the students and by acting on their input.
- Through a collaborative team effort, students, faculty, and staff can find creative solutions to meet service needs.
- The IT Board must give clear authority to a team to define a vision, mission, and goals and, upon completion, report back to the officers for approval to move forward.
Costs and Benefits
The initial web portal will be implemented by the Student Affairs (project management, system administration, web development, and networking). Initial funding is required for hardware, software, and maintenance, which include the setup of a SharePoint portal environment and tool set. Initial fixed costs are $45,000 one time and $15,000 ongoing.
Measuring the effectiveness of any service is a difficult challenge. Tracking the number of visits to a web site is simple, but this is not an indication of quality of service. A method must be defined to constantly channel the feedback that customers give back into improving customer service. We must find ways to provide increased benefits to the students.
The initial goals of the project are to form a team to define the project, develop a web portal prototype, and present a recommendation to the IT Board. This recommendation will be delivered in Fall 2004 by the Web Portal Team.
Medium priority. The most important aspect of the proposal is the establishment of a campus working group with authority to determine portal standards and content. Software application tools will be evaluated for purchase, at which time exact costs will be known.
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