Keys to building a viable online University environment?

Keys: stability, content, usability, functionality and some secret sauce.

I've been involved with the portal initiative at Plymouth State from the inception. It had, and continues to have several operational objectives: provide a secure, single sign-on, role based, environment that aggregates institutional web based services that is self-customizable by the users. The strategic objective was and is to build a more engaged community through "birth to bequest" services aligned with strategic initiatives ranging from developing roles for prospective students through alumni and for good measure, a role for parents. To date, we have been very successful by some measures in the execution of that vision.
That said, the portal is not perfect. The highly integrated environment has been, at times, a challenge to support; when any sub-system breaks it is quite possible that the entire portal performance suffers.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear some feeback from some of my colleagues regarding areas for improvement.

  • Calendar - Not easy to use, support is difficult, i.e. sync'ing with PDAs has proven problematic. It has not keeping up with Google or Yahoo calendar
  • Email - The email client that comes with the portal was inefficient and is not keeping up with yahoo or google email in functionality.
  • Auto Timeout - Not role based. One-time-fits-all is not supportive of office staff needs.
  • Releveant Content and services - Need more content - especially for student life.
  • Groups tool - Is difficult to use, particularly file upload.
  • myPlymouth down time - when myplymouth goes down, access to all systems is unavailable.
  • logon page - Login page needs more relevant content
  • Student life - Is not interactive
  • We are planning to upgrade the underlying technology at the conclusion of this semester. And will be attempting to address many of these issues.

    portal, university, online community

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    About ken

    Ken is the Director of MIS and Instructional Technology at Plymouth State University where he enjoys the opportunity to work with energetic, intelligent, motivated, competent and caring colleagues to advance the integration of technology into the institutional academic and administrative environments in the effort to promote a more informed citizenry.