Portal project to improve online life at the U of L

The cross-campus team working on a new 'one-stop-shop' portal system to unify the university's online systems is seeking input from the University community.

The group has been working with a service provider to install a common portal that brings a number of different online systems together.

The group is now looking to the U of L community -- staff, faculty and students -- to further explain what the portal system will be able to do, and also to ask for input on their particular needs.

The as-yet-unnamed portal system can be customized to reflect their needs as an employee or student.

In addition to general U of L information, the portal system will feature a 'single sign on' process, so that users don't have to re-login between systems such as Moodle, The Bridge, Banner, etc.

"Right now, the pressing need is to integrate a number of items that are of interest to students and which also would be generally of use to Faculty and staff," said Jamie Chinn, a Senior Business Systems Analyst and one of the project team leaders.

"These are what we would call 'everyday items' like access to The Bridge, Banner (the U of L's financial, student, alumni and employee management system) the Library, Moodle (an online courseware program), email, and other services people now make use of, such as frequently-used web links and tabs, a notice board-style page, and our news and information services."

Chinn said the purpose of the focus groups is to further help define what the students, staff and faculty need on the portal, and how they wish to receive information from the U of L, so those elements can be added over time.

"The input we get will really help us determine what content goes into the portal for initial and subsequent versions, based on the opinions of the people who will be using this system," Chinn said.

"We could build it and launch it, but there would be no sense of whether it is truly serving people's needs," Chinn said.

"Though we know people are busy, we hope they can take the time to participate in a focus group or our online surveying to help define what this system will look like. It will be designed for the people who will be using it, so it will be very helpful for us to learn from them."

Between January 29 – 31, focus groups and feedback sessions will take place to bring user groups up to speed on the project, ask for input into how they use the present systems, and how their online experience could be enhanced through the implementation of various portal systems.

Groups solicited for focus group input include all members of the U of L employee community, but student participation in a series of focus groups will be critical, Chinn said.

"If anyone knows students who they feel could contribute to this effort, we are encouraging them to contact us to participate."

Students will be contacted with details for their focus group once they have confirmed their interest.

Other mechanisms to provide input will be conducted in the future, and watch for additional information about this project in UWeekly and on the Notice board.

Background information is included, below.


There has been sufficient need for a University Portal for quite some time, particularly with regards to a student portal. Therefore the focus for the implementation of a University Portal will be primarily implementing and integrating the most commonly used services by various users.

For faculty, staff, and alumni, the current plan is to include these constituent groups for the launch of the portal, and provide an equivalent level of service to what they are currently experiencing.

Future enhancements for these groups will be made post launch once the portal contains a reasonable amount of functionality for the various users.

This approach will be validated and confirmed during the planning discussions with various stakeholders and other schools, as well as through consultation with the portal provider early in the project.

The concept of a portal is to centralize access to information and personalized services, and this requires integrating many systems via Single Sign-On and potentially some data integration as well.

Due to the number of complex systems on campus, it is not feasible to integrate them all for launch, nor know exactly what features are feasible to implement prior to launch.

A more precise listing will be confirmed once a test installation is conducted, more training on the platform is obtained, and the portal committees have reviewed and prioritized a list of potential features.

More details will follow in the near future.