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Customized Points of Entry: Selected Portal Vendors

The Campus Pipeline portal features real-time Web access to administrative and academic services, serves as a communication tool, and integrates with a school's SIS (student information system) to automate processes and dynamically trigger events. So, when a student registers for a course, her name immediately appears in the instructor's e-mail directory and she simultaneously gains access to related online resources. The user's profile determines what comes through the portal, and profiles can be revised to reflect changes. Each campus can customize the look of the portal, and the user-friendly interface appeals to a student audience. The home page features a series of tabs: My Pipeline, School Services, Campus Life, and E-mail.

Users enter the Mascot portal via an ID that determines what content they will see and access. Mascot also integrates with back-end functions such as registration and financial aid. The icon-based tabs across the top of the page include a face directory, events page, life tools (career services), a "fun" tab, and a chat area called "exchange." Along the left side of the page are links to academic, administrative, and social functions. Mascot Orientation, an online interactive application, connects incoming students to the school and their new classmates.

The Jenzabar portal provides personalized access to student services such as course registration, course Web pages, the Internet, e-mail, and other school-specific resources. The package includes a personal calendar (which can be pre-loaded with the student’s own course information), résumé builder, and a handout section through which instructors can distribute text, audio, and video course materials. Jenzabar features streamed discussion forums for online office hours, chat rooms for study and review, Web page builder and hosting tools, an entertainment center, and a special symbols palette for math, science, and music students.

Blackboard's portal allows integration with SIS and other campus systems, and full administrator control over all features. This portal offers customization features such as institutional branding and profile-based content. Other features include a personalized calendar, e-mail, and a discussion board. Course management tools include an online testing function that allows instructors to build exams or quizzes, and a course statistics feature offers analysis of use of course resources. A digital dropbox facilitates submitting assignments and gives instructors a time/date record of each submission. The Academic Web Resources tab of the portal accesses more than 50,000 full text articles and 3,500 periodical titles, as well as other online materials.

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