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Out of the Box: PeopleSoft 8 Campus Portal

Campus portals are growing in popularity, with hundreds up and running at schools around the country. Though these portals may look like nothing more than sophisticated Web sites, they go beyond that to provide students faculty, alumni, and staff with a means to communicate, educate, and coordinate via one online site. Portals are beginning to encompass the many diverse needs and roles found on campus, promising finally to bring all functions under one electronic roof.

Perhaps the most inclusive of the available commercial portals, the PeopleSoft Campus Portal is pre-built with PeopleSoft 8 Internet Architecture. This out-of-the-box design shortens implementation time and simplifies upgrades, but unlike many one-size-fits-all solutions, this template is highly customizable. Schools can tailor the look of the portal to reflect their unique colors, mascot, and image. Administrators can also customize the navigational links as well as the design of individual "pagelets," the modular building blocks of the portal. Institutions can add their own content, such as campus news and events. The PeopleSoft Web publishing function enables individuals to contribute original content as well, ensuring that no two portals will look alike.

The PeopleSoft portal can draw on proprietary applications or integrate with campus systems already in place to provide a central access point for all campus services, including admissions, registration, financial aid, payroll, personnel, grading, and alumni relations. It's possible to partner Campus Portal with existing online vendors, such as the campus bookstore, or combine it with PeopleSoft's own e-commerce solutions.

Campus Portal personalizes content according to user type. Roles are assigned to each user, whether that person is a freshman, graduate student, staff person, alumnus, or instructor. In other words, user identity determines what each will see and what can be accessed. Student users will see information and links tailored to their needs, while instructors will find resources specifically for them. For instance, one section of the portal can be set up so that students who register for a class will automatically receive a book list, from which they can order books directly and have the cost added to their registration fees. This roles-based technology allows administrators to personalize the content down to the person, providing that person has uniquely definable characteristics. The entire portal is password controlled, so the institution d'es not have to maintain multiple security profiles for the many systems accessed.

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