Student Portal Seeks to Simplify Students’ Web Experience

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Students returning to McDaniel College have noticed a plethora of changes the college has made over the past few months.  One of the biggest – and most talked about – is the overhaul of the college’s website.

McDaniel’s Department of Information Technology, who are responsible for the management of the college’s web presence, launched two new websites to replace the much-maligned single site prior to the start of the academic year.  The website has now been split into the traditional mcdaniel.edu site and a new website, termed by the college as the “student portal.”

Amy Bell, IT Project Manager, said that the portal is intended to be a “central place” for students to log in to and find out about school events, as well as to check student services, such as the Archway, which is already integrated with the portal.  Bell, who was in charge of the portal’s development, says that while “the Archway is the first thing that is tied in [to the portal] automatically,” the college hopes to soon have other services, such as Blackboard integrated so that students no longer have to log in to each service individually.  The portal will also feature what are called “team sites,” which will facilitate collaboration between academic departments and student groups such as athletic teams.

The portal will soon expand its launch to include a mobile application to make accessing the portal on devices such as smart phones and tablets easier, as the site does not display properly on many mobile web browsers.  According to Bell, this application will be introduced at some point in the fall semester.

At the portal’s rollout event in Kriel Lounge on Sept. 5, Bell said “it will probably take a year” for the portal to be fully completed and functional.

The former single website has been overhauled to serve primarily as a marketing tool to reach out and inform perspective students about the college.  Included with the new website is a new social media aggregator called mc2, which features blog posts, pictures, and videos about events at McDaniel, as well as following discussions of McDaniel on social media sites such as Twitter.