MCIS Network Applications
Throughout the late 1990's, computing organizations such as MCIS implemented many web-based applications and resources to solve various computing problems. Examples of these include Banner, Blackboard, email, University KnowledgeBase, the electronic directory, etc. as well as numerous static web pages. Unfortunately, the shear number of these applications and resources has caused problems as users now have difficulties finding the resources they need.
In addition, since each application was accessed so infrequently, communications from the application (for example, BannerWeb attempting to warn someone that they're classes were going to be cancelled due to non-payment) was difficult.
Web portals, such as myMiami, were designed to solve these problems. By consolidating, services into one location, it becomes much easier to locate the web resources around the university that individuals might need. In addition, targeted announcements can be placed within the portal with a reasonable expectation of reaching the intended target due to the high volume of traffic into the portal.
In May 2001, Miami launched its first web portal, myMiami. This original myMiami was based on a product known as Campus Pipeline Web Platform and was implemented by a team consisting of individuals from many university offices (MCIS, University Libraries, University Communications, etc.) This implementation met many of our needs but was not a true portal. It did not allow for the customization, expansion, and stability needed by Miami University.
Much promise and hope was placed in the follow-on product from Campus Pipeline called Campus Pipeline Luminus. This product is based on a public domain application known as uPortal and is much closer to the reality of a true portal. It may have done much to advance our goals of delivering a portal solution to our clients. Unfortunately, the Campus Pipeline implementation running at Miami University suffered many severe implementation problems in the Fall of 2002. After many unsuccessful attempts by the vendor to rectify the problem, MCIS decided to replace Campus Pipeline with an in-house developed implementation (known internally as myMiami Lite). myMiami Lite is currently in production and functioning well but lacks many of the features present in the Campus Pipeline Web Platform application and doesn't allow the customization and growth capabilities promised in Campus Pipeline Luminus.
MCIS has begun to evaluate technologies and ideas for the next generation of myMiami (known internally as myMiami 2). The hope is to have the framework for this in place for the Fall, 2003 school year. Additional modules would be released as they are developed.
As part of this investigation, MCIS has re-evaluated Campus Pipeline Luminus. Currently, we feel that the features available do not overweigh the support issues we've experienced with Campus Pipeline in the past. Therefore, MCIS cannot recommend implementing Luminus at this time.
Instead, MCIS recommends that we begin implementing uPortal (the public domain application that Campus Pipeline Luminus is built upon) as the basis for myMiami 2. This will require more work on the part of MCIS than Campus Pipeline Luminus, but we believe the result will be a higher quality and more reliable product.
uPortal should provide a framework that will allow Miami to add services as they are developed. In addition, uPortal will allow the user to organize the interface in a manner that provides the most utility to them. Administrators still have control over which parts the user can modify, though.
To aid in the development of myMiami 2, I believe a steering committee should be formed. This committee should be broadly represented in order to design an application that will meet most user's needs. Unlike the Campus Pipeline implementation, this group would be an advisory group rather than a working group. Potential participants are as follows:
Among the features that have already been identified as ideas to explore for myMiami 2 (no promises on the ability to deliver yet) are the following:
Web-based Email - Web-based email is provided by a public domain application known as Squirrel Mail in the current myMiami implementation. We would continue to provide this application with the new myMiami implementation. Currently, you must click on the mail icon to check your mail, however. We'd like to investigate including the count of new mail messages directly into myMiami 2, though so the client can see whether they have new email without the need to open the email page.Announcements - University-wide announcements are currently available within myMiami Lite. Under Campus Pipeline, announcements could be targeted to groups of individuals, however only a very limited number of people could post announcements and the types of groups that could be targeted was very restricted.
For myMiami 2, we'd like to create an announcement facility that would allow a wide range of individuals to post announcements to very targeted groups. One specific example of this would be the ability to grant announcement authoring capabilities to the secretary of the Music department to distribute to all Music faculty, staff, and/or students. Potentially, this could be extended to allow advisors or officers of student organizations to send announcements to the members of that organization.
Another example would be personalized announcements for students concerning registration. Currently, we publish schedules for all students and they must 'calculate' on their own their registration time. Potentially, we could send personalized announcements to students stating specifically the time of registration for that student.
In addition, we'd like to investigate including announcements from other sources. Blackboard announcements would be one example of this type.
Classes Taking/Teaching - Campus Pipeline Web Platform listed the classes an individual was taking or teaching along with additional details such as the professor teaching the class. Clicking on various parts of the display performed various tasks such as taking the user to the Blackboard site for that course or starting a mail message to the professor for the course.
This functionality was lost when we moved to myMiami Lite. We'd like to investigate duplicating this functionality and expanding it in myMiami 2. Included in this expanded functionality could be direct links to the add and drop courses pages in BannerWeb, personalized Registration schedule reminders, etc.
News - Campus Pipeline used InfoSpace for it's news headlines. In myMiami Lite, we've used a new service known as Google News. This has worked very well so far. We'd like to expand feature in myMiami 2 to allow users to choose from a variety of news sources such as USA Today, The New York Times, ESPN.com, etc. In addition, we would continue to pull in local news sources such as The Miami Student, The Miami Report, Miami News, Today's Events, etc.
Calendars - Currently, there are at least 3 different independent calendaring systems in use at Miami: WebEvent, Meeting Maker, and Blackboard. We'd like to investigate bringing some if not all of these into myMiami and aggregating them into a single personalized calendar.
Other ideas - There are many other items we'd like to investigate including into myMiami although these have not been as well thought out. Among these are:
- One Card balance
- Open Remedy (MCIS Support Desk) tickets
- Library books checked out/due dates
- Upcoming training schedule with ability to sign up
- Dining Hall Menus
- MCIS Outages
- Discussion boards
- Student Organization information
- Location Specific Info (Divisional Computer Labs could have Divisional specific information displayed)
- Box Office information
- Bursar statement/balance
- Current weather