New student portal starts to take shape
As you might have heard, MyMPTC as we currently know it is no longer supported by Ellucian. Thus, we have embarked on a new student portal and have chosen WordPress as the platform.
Before beginning the project, we talked to our student representatives about what they would like in a portal—and importantly, what would motivate them to visit the portal regularly—and began our planning with their feedback in mind. Their consistent feedback was that the current portal is overwhelming with information, and they don’t know where to look to find what they need because there is too much content.
Our primary objective with the student portal interface is to ENGAGE students. Of course, we need students to facilitate their student business with the college via the portal, and we still want to promote specific initiatives, but our focus with the project is on the students’ user experience. We can build the fanciest portal around, but if students won’t visit, it will not accomplish our primary objective.
Anders and Ross found a plug-in for WordPress that mimics social media, yet allows us to populate institutional information and provide traditional services. Some of the highlights of this new platform include:
- Social networking – students can “friend” other students, allowing critical interaction within a population of students who typically come to campus (physical or virtual campus) and leave with minimal interaction.
- Groups – Faculty and staff will be able to facilitate groups on the new portal, allowing for interaction on various topics within student life, programs and beyond.
- Responsive to device – Like our .edu website, the portal will display appropriately to the size of the device, whether that’s a mobile device, tablet or desktop. This is also our first step toward developing an MPTC app down the road.
- Search-friendly – Unlike the current portal, the WordPress platform features a useful search function.
Anders and Ross had enough of a portal shell to allow us to get initial student input from various focus groups before the students left for the summer. Their response was very positive, particularly for the “groups” feature on the site, and the possibilities that sparks with classmates and faculty.
Scott Lieburn is ultimately responsible for the content on the new student portal and has enlisted help from Jenny Manning in heading up a task force with several priorities:
- Determine what content needs to carry over from the “old” student portal.
- Ensure student interactions are appropriate.
- Make decisions on workflow.
- Interface with MPTC’s attorney on Acceptable Use and other impacted policies.
- Monitoring portal content.
The timeline for this project is very short for the size of the project. We were hoping to launch the portal before students returned in August, but that launch may be pretty “soft” at first, meaning that we will likely have students log into the old portal interface, but link certain areas over to the new portal, until the new portal is entirely ready. “Entirely ready” will depend somewhat on how much content the task force determines needs to be contained in the new portal. We will continue to provide updates as the work continues. Like other web projects, this will be a continuous improvement project long after the “go live” date, and we especially plan enhancements after the new ERP system is eventually implemented.
Please watch for further updates, and forward any specific feedback or questions for the Portal Task Force to one of the members:
- Jenny Manning
- Nicolle Schroeder
- Samantha Saeger
- Lisa Manuell
- Melanie Schroeder
- Bonnie Bauer
- Erin Anderson
- Julie Pieper
- Triena Bodart
- Ann Torgersen
- Scott Lieburn