Students at The University of Texas-Pan American have spoken and the Division of Information Technology (IT) has met their list of demands and developed a single point of access to information that matters most to them.
With one simple click of the mouse, UTPA students will be able to open a virtual front door to the campus customized to their personal interests and needs through the new My UTPA portal.
Expected to launch in late August, IT is excited to introduce the University community to this "one-stop shop" site for all their essential campus information and access to UTPA services.
"The new student portal will serve as 'an information hub' for our students to view and access campus services through an easy to use interface. Once a student signs into the portal, he or she will have one-click access to all the major campus systems they use without having to sign in again. This single sign-on feature will be a huge benefit for them as they will not have to remember multiple websites to different services," said Kumar Raman, director of UTPA Internet Services.
The following services will be available in the My UTPA portal: e-mails, announcements, campus-wide calendar, polls, student grades, class schedules, dining menus, campus news, social networking, instant messaging, Bronc Bucks and work-study hours balances, financial aid and holds information, and access to student systems such as Blackboard and Banner.
"We're excited because the portal will have a huge impact on how we serve our students. It will put a student's most important information in one place and end the web page runaround that is so frustrating for so many, and the greatest thing is this is just the first version of the portal," said Bob Lim, vice president for information technology.
Lim said the new portal was a yearlong collaborative effort between IT, Division of Enrollment and Student Services, Center for Online Learning, Teaching & Technology, and UTPA's Web Advisory Group. In addition, IT received input from students and the Student Government Association to come up with a list of student's needs for the My UTPA portal.
"It was truly a collaborative process and everyone contributed. That's one of the things I am proudest of because we brought everyone to the table, we were able to identify the features and services that made the biggest difference to students," Lim said.
"The best is yet to come because our students tell us what they want and we listen to them. In a year's time, the portal will still be fresh and new because it'll be full of the best and brightest ideas from our customers, the students," Lim added.
Raman said by working with students and the stakeholder groups, IT learned in addition to the single sign-on feature, students wanted to see an aggregated view of their most important data such as grades, courses, financial aid, Blackboard courses, etc. Also, students wished for e-mail and social networking capabilities built into the system, and the ability to personalize the portal by adding their own content to make the space uniquely theirs.
"The portal will provide personalized content based on who you are. So when you log in you see content that is tailored to your interests and needs. For example, if you live in the dorms you'll get announcements that are related to the dorms. It will also serve as a communication hub that will deliver targeted announcements to individuals or groups from various systems, such as ASSIST, Blackboard or Bronc Notes," Raman said.
Last fall, My UTPA was beta-tested with a group of 70 students and IT was able to understand what students liked and what elements needed improvement, Raman said.
"This direct feedback from the students shaped the portal and the final product is much more useful and attractive as a result. Our students were excited about it and had a lot of enthusiasm toward having such an online community," Raman said. "We are fairly confident that students will like what they see."
To learn more about the Division of Information Technology, visit http://www.utpa.edu/it.