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Portal will streamline access to web services

Memorial is streamlining the channels by which the university community accesses its web services.

A revamped version of slated to launch in early May will be a “one-stop shop” for retrieving relevant, personalized information – with the added benefit of one username and password required to gain access to the site.

“Memorial continuously improves its online presence and the new portal is a major step,” said Dr. Reeta Tremblay, vice-president (academic), and a strong supporter of the portal initiative. "This first phase will greatly enhance how students connect with us as an institution."

Lisa Charlong, portal manager with Computing and Communications, said a new and improved is a natural evolution of the university’s electronic framework.

“Through guidance from of the portal subcommittee, IMC (the university’s Information Management Committee) and communication with various users, it became apparent there was a need to improve Memorial’s services and its communication channels, and to position the site in a broader, unified, digital campus initiative,” she said.

Restructuring of the site is being implemented in phases, with phase one focusing on students’ needs. Of particular relevance is viewing course and grade information via the Registrar’s Office, accessing online resources at the Queen Elizabeth II library, and accessing online and distance education courses from Distance Education and Learning Technologies.

Ms. Charlong said interface usability is one of the main priorities of the upgrade. Users will choose and arrange a combination of university-provided and external services, such as weather and newsfeeds. As well, individuals will have the option to tailor their sites with gadgets and graphic themes.

“The improvements will allow for an easier, enhanced and more personalized user experience,” she said.

While existing Memorial staff services on – such as payroll and vacation status records – will be accessible on the updated site, improved services for staff will be introduced during the second phase later this year.

The upgrade of the site is the product of several face-to-face and online surveys of student groups in January 2010, as well as consultations with related university units such as Finance and Administration, the Registrar’s Office, Distance Education and Learning Technologies, Alumni Affairs and Development, Computing and Communications, the School of Graduate Studies, Student Affairs and Services and the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union.

The overwhelming message gleaned from the process was to revamp the existing into one, customizable portal with collaborative and interactive channels, and activated by a single login. And as the revised site will eventually become a mandatory avenue to university services, mobile capability for handheld devices is scheduled to come on stream in the fall.

While students will continue to contribute direction for improvements in upcoming focus group sessions, faculty and staff needs will be sought out soon after phase one is complete.

This initiative is led by the Department of Computing and Communications working with the portal subcommittee of the IMC.