myUMBC team are working hard developing an open to inputs and feedback forum
myUMBC has been going through changes aimed at making it the main portal for students, minimizing reliance on social networks like Facebook and the shortfalls of using the ever-so-clunky Peoplesoft interface, by strengthening communication throughout campus.
A well-built college website can mean the difference between a great college experience and an awful one. myUMBC has been evolving steadily over the past year, and the team behind the improvements met with students at a focus group event last Wednesday to discuss the current state of the website and receive student input.
Collier Jones, UMBC campus portal architect, opened the session by setting an open door policy regarding comments and suggestions. Jones wanted to make sure everyone attending the event knew that their opinion matters, setting the tone for the meeting.
Student feedback has led to new features like profile sharing, which allows students to share their profile information, including their course schedule and grade history, across multiple platforms, from other UMBC accounts, to Facebook and Google+.
The future of myUMBC generated much interest amongst the attendees. Anisha Khandelwal, SGA director of student organization support, mentioned new features such as sharing posts between multiple groups, scheduling publishing of posts in advance, embedding posts with various types of media, activity feeds and more.
The way students are receiving information and emails is also changing. Options will be available to choose what users want to see. “We want content to be targeted as specifically as possible, so you’re not seeing things you don’t have to.” said Jones.
One upcoming project is the myUMBC app, with an interest in finding whether students will see this app as a better college communication tool than Facebook.
Billy Heavner, a junior majoring in financial economics and director of athletic relations for the Student Organization Support Team (SOS), stated that he would use a fluid and bug-free college app if it makes things easier for him.
In addition, Vice President of Student Organizations Michael Burgos pointed out that one problem student organizations are facing right now is “not enough visibility”. Burgos explained that it should be easier for anyone who wants to get involved on campus to find useful information about various events that match their interests.
The app will include all of the information on the original myUMBC, in addition to a possible navigation system that would allow students to find events nearby. This feature would also help visitors and new students find directions to their destination on campus.
Craig Berger, Coordinator of Student Life for Campus and Civic Engagement, said, “I think that is going to be a huge improvement. People will find it easier to get connected to things on campus.”
One of the helpful future plans is the addition of academic information to the student profile. Jones and his team plan to simplify academic features, such as the degree audit, to make it easier to use. Students would view their degree standing, have an idea of what courses to take and when, and access their tuition information in a seamless manner.
Overall, the main goal of myUMBC project is to strengthen the student–university connection.
Heavner said “It’s an exciting time for myUMBC right now, with a lot of changes happening to the website and to the development of the mobile app. These new changes will make the use of the website and app much more enjoyable and will help students accomplish things quicker.”