Portal Conference 2009

June 1, 2009

Next week over 160 web/IT professionals will attend the 4th Annual portal conference – portal2009 at Gettysburg College.

The featured keynote speaker at Portal2009 is Richard N. Katz, Vice President of EDUCAUSE, and author, co-author, or editor of dozens of books, monographs and articles on a variety of higher education, management, and technology topics. His book, Web Portals and Higher Education: Technologies to Make IT Personal, published in 2002 is still considered one of the definitive sources on portals in higher education. We expect portal 2009 to be the best conference to date, so get your presentation proposals in to share your portal stories with your colleagues from higher education institutions from around the globe.

The theme for the conference, portal2009: users uses usability, is meant to reflect the idea that portals have many definitions, and the different portals have different audiences (users), tools (uses) and interfaces (usability). The more everyone knows about the differences, the more people can continue to evolve their institution’s portal into a more useful commodity.

I will try to live blog and tweet any of the sessions I am attending. You can follow live on twitter @portal2009.

Portal Conference Speaker Announced

December 4, 2008

Mark Albert a colleague of mine at Gettysburg posted this on the High Ed Web List serve and I thought it was worth repeating here.

Greetings all,

“2009: One Hundred Katz” and how all of this ties together. Well, allow me to explain, and no, it doesn’t involve herding cats.

Portal 2009: users uses usability, set for June 2-5, 2009 at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg Pennsylvania is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker will be Katz, Richard N. Katz to be exact – vice president of EDUCAUSE, and author, co-author, or editor of dozens of books, monographs and articles on a variety of higher education, management, and technology topics. His book, Web Portals and Higher

Education: Technologies to Make IT Personal, published in 2002 is still considered one of the definitive sources on portals in higher education.

Now, about the one hundred. For the fourth year in a row, the portal conference at Gettysburg College continues to be one of the best values in higher education conferences. Portal 2009 will continue with the $100/person (non-profit) registration fee. The fee covers all conference materials as well as all meals and breaks (opening reception June 2, breakfast lunch and dinner June 3-4, breakfast June 5). Those that have attended past conferences know that the food is first rate and not just bread and water. With the difficult economy, we think Portal 2009 is still the most affordable conference for higher education colleagues.

The conference can afford to be the best value in conferences through the generous support of corporate sponsors, that help off-set the costs.

We are currently working with local hotels to provide the best rates for lodging for the conference. Are hope is to keep rooms to under $100/night to help make the overall cost of attending the conference cheaper than just the registration fee for most conferences.

The call for presentations is open and the online form is available at http://cnav.gettysburg.edu/portal/portal09/CallForPresentations.html and we hope that if you have a story or experience regarding portals you will consider this opportunity to share it with other. There is also a form to sign up for a reminder when registration opens in March 2009.

For complete information on the conference, go to http://www.gettysburg.edu/portal

Final Thoughts – Portal Conference

June 8, 2008

The Portal Conference this year was once again a success and I enjoyed attending. It doesn’t hurt that I do get to sleep in my own bed during this conference. I was especially impressed with Jim Farmer’s keynote (I didn’t get to attend the other keynote). I always enjoy seeing different answers to the same questions from different schools. One approach might make better sense at school a than it does at school b.

Portal Conference Live Blogging Day Two – Content Management Meets the Portal

June 8, 2008

Heather Pierre the new Associate Director of Web Communications at Gettysburg College was kind enough to guest blog a session this morning by Mark Albert from Gettysburg College. Content Management Meets the Portal.

Started developing own web interface to display ERP data (CNAV) in 1995.

College NAVigation (aka CNAV) launched for student, faculty and staff in 1995.  Alumni, parent added since.

Technique using synonyms on the databases so that CMS could look directly at CNAV data – eliminates need for interfaces and gave real-time updating of data.

Pull data presentation out of portal (CNAV) – use dotCMS for presentation of information.  CNAV continues to function as data engine and used as myGettysburg ‘tools’.

Launched myGettysburg for alumni and prospective students on 11/1/2007, collaboration with Education & Enrollment Services and Development, Alumni & Parent Relations divisions, integrated security layers.

Data write-backs are not necessarily automatic.  Data owners determine what data is eligible for write-back, frequency and what approval process will be used.  ERP is responsible to pull data from CNAV/CMS database, interface written by ERP technical.

Future – more audiences, cradle to grave community, enterprise-wide event registration, service oriented architecture (SOA) with disparate systems, myGettysburg tools become less web and more data engine (warehouse?).

Questions from audience:
How do users understand or feel about CMS vs. portal vs. public site?  Is there confusion?
Paul (GC) – user confusion as to how to navigate both inside and outside of CMS, unclear as to how to get back and forth, can you do everything logged in or not, etc.  Gettysburg is addressing usability feedback via changing navigation and more clear instructions.  Google search functionality confused with alumni directory.

How does the CMS work on the backend to show custom content?
CMS is an application framework…templates can be designed (various columns, etc.) and chosen on a page-by-page basis
not flat html pages
Content can be tagged
Will (DM) – “You can do anything!”

How do users know that they need to login to access special content?
Will (DM) – somewhat understood by today’s audiences that they have to login to get ‘their’ tools, but should address the question as to how to make it clear to those who don’t get it.

Are there performance issues with multiple people logging in at same time?
2 load balancers handle it well
Web-caching within dotCMS

Portal Conference Live Blogging – Day Two Drive Portal User Account Creation From Your ERP System

June 5, 2008

Heather Pierre the new Associate Director of Web Communications at Gettysburg College was kind enough to guest blog a session this morning by Tim Archer, University of St. Francis.

Drive Portal User Account Creation From Your ERP System

The problem:

· account creation was manual process

· reset pw’s called IT

· people expect real time access to their info

· people not notified when accounts were created

Solution overview:


· MUST be in ERP

· ERP tells what role(s) person plays [student, faculty, staff, alum, prospects]

· unique ID in ERP is stored in LDAP workForceID attribute

o directory and ERP are now “connected”

· ERP system queries the directory and determines who needs accounts created or roles

· Casual employees, friends, etc. handled manually…record created in ERP with comments on why they’re in there…not full data, account login handled as separate group


· Work with dept’s to get data in system, correctly and in timely manner – biggest challenge, service to constituents faster

· Data not in the system…no account, call respective dpet to get it right


Nightly job writes a file of directory chges [acct creations/deletions/role chgs

ERP checks to see which accts were created and emails users their acct info [sent to external email address]

Accts created within 24 hours of data entered into ERP system


· Log into portal first time, MUST setup a security question to use pw reset

o Stored in ERP system

· Must chg pw upon first login

· Portal LDAP user has privilege to reset pw’s

o Check birth date and security question assoc with person

o Admin connect to the directory and reset pw


· User logs into portal, check to see if pw has expired

o Directory maintains rules for expiration, length, and pw strength

USF_LDAP_UTIL – Connect the ERP and the Directory

· Oracle PL/SQL package that allows you to pull directory data into SQL and ‘join’ the ERP to E-Directory

· Non-Oracle DB’s will need another approach

Benefits Realized:

· Data in ERP timely manner

· Students, faculty, staff, etc. can all reset their pw through the portal if they forget it

· Setup logging to determine misc. ‘issues’

Misc Issues:

· Accts locked after 10 invalid login attempts…must call IT to unlock

· People forget the answers to their security questions

One size doesn’t fit all:

· Multiple sources of data [not all in one db]

· Try to centralize the source of truth (or at least come up with a priority hierarch) and use it

· Real work is in consolidating systems and getting the data right

Portal Conference Day Live Blogging Day One – Campus Portals Take Two

June 5, 2008

Heather Pierre the new Associate Director of Web Communications at Gettysburg COllege was kind enough to guest blog a session yesterday by Jim Cunningham, Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Campus Portals Take Two Moving Forward with Online Collaboration and Social Networking

Employees formerly used shared drives to access forms/policies/procedures, moved to web-browser employee information system (EIS)

“Intranet” ideology

Used active directory to assign permission to data

Solution: Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007

· Enhance workgroup and project team communication beyond file-sharing

· Website for each workgroup/project team, self-maintained through content mgt tools

· Campus yearbool/facebook social networking (corporate social networking)


· No staff experience (sharepoint or web)

· Short timeline


· Identify clear Phase 1 goals

· Partner w/ academic affairs to access technical writer

· Design overall information architecture

· Built prototype, test, refined design, built working model

· Consultant for advanced training and review of prototype

· Freeze development and start migrating content

Plan – the content

· No campus announcements via email – in portal

· Department sites

· Policy and procedure

· Forms

· myEIS

· myWorkgroups

· my site – social networking

“Original” plan – the technology

· Utilize sharepoint portal 100% out-of-the-box, no custom graphics, no branding

Plan – the People

· Project director: PM

· Director of network services and server administrator: sharepoint portal server farm and software deployment

· Technical support staff (3): testers and dept content trainers and tech support

· Technical writer: overall design and information architecture

· Dept content contacts: transition existing docs and update basic dept information

One Year Later…myPCT.pct.edu

One Year After that…semi customized pages

Announcements tab drives ‘digest’ type information

· Can be posted by anyone

· Can be targeted to specific groups

· No work flow process…content is not approved…only members logged in are able to post and view (outside world wouldn’t see)

· Listserv functionality

· RSS feed

Plan to convert forms to ‘Infopath???’ Microsoft web forms which will incorporate work flow

Announcements sent out monthly to ‘please review your public web content’

Policies and procedures reside side-by-side and are keyword indexed

MyWorkgroup collaboration

· Announcements

· Microsoft live communicator – online/availability indicators, initiate emails, etc.

· Document folders

· Web pages (CM)

· Presence

· Lists

· Calendars

· Tasks – assign to outlook and group can see status and completion info

· Wikis

· Surveys

· Discussion boards

My Site – Social networking/personal web site

· Campus yearbook (facebook) – has privacy settings

· Organizational chart

· Colleagues

· Documents

· Same content management tools as main portal

· Blogs

Portal Conference Live Blogging Day Two – MICA presentation – PS 9 portal

June 5, 2008

Sarah Kotlinski – Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Gettysburg was kind enough to do a guest blog for theMICA presentation – PS 9 portal this morning.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

9:07 AM

  • Upgraded systems to PS 9 in November 2007 from 8.1
  • Web presence is more than just the portal – includes other web apps as well
  • Old portal: news, degree templates, grades, administrative reporting
  • Decided to focus on what the Portal does best – transactional content so this is what they focused on – wanted to allow:
    • Register for classes
    • View class schedules
    • Grade online
    • Pay tuition
    • View paystubs
    • Student advising tools
    • Unofficial transcripts
  • Decided to get rid of tabs and pagelets and only use left navigation – local navigation – for the portal…
  • Has a very PeopleSoft look and feel but has a MICA logo at the top of the page and other MICA links at the top which don’t have the PS look
  • Left Nav done through PS structure and content; uses deep links to avoid having users need to drill down through PS menus
  • Announcements – ones related to Portal are displayed in Portal, not things like announcements about student activities
  • Also decided to get away from pagelets in announcements and news, found that users don’t see all the updates that way, since there is nothing chronological in the way it was organized
  • New news and announcements system should:
    • Use a delivery system based on blogging, with tagged and categorized articles
    • News is targeted based on an individual’s combination of roles including students, staff, and faculty; alumni audience is being planned, possible future prospective student audience
    • Will use the public website’s news system
  • Also redoing the public website and getting a new content management system
  • Single Sign-On is critical, since so many systems are tied in to Portal – used Active Directory
  • Ties group memberships from AD to role memberships in Portal
  • Branding: visual cues to let users know when they are dealing with MICA and to give them a more streamlined browsing experience
  • Chose to not have brand at top of external sites – such as outside research sites – so that people know they are not at a MICA site
  • In Portal, branded signon/signout, header, and left nav; did not brand the PeopleSoft apps. Does note that branding in PS is unnecessarily complicated.
  • Interesting idea – added more space in the line height in PS to make it harder to click on the wrong link
  • Question: how to replicate the ‘my life at a glance’ feel of a pagelet-based portal without the pagelets – likes the Facebook model so that everything is chronological based – a list of transactions with the college regardless of the location. Not doing this yet but this is a very cool idea… so you can see that you requested an official transcript, paid your parking charges, enrolled in a class, all in ONE list.