Portal Vendors Go Modular

If you were a university administrator and needed to get a portal up and running fairly quickly, to whom would you turn?

PeopleSoft Campus Portal
Pre-built with PeopleSoft 8 Internet Architecture, Campus Portal is an out-of-the-box solution designed for rapid implementation. Administrators can customize the portal's look and features as well as its navigational links to best fit each campus's needs. PeopleSoft's portal is comprised of Portal Packs, or "pagelets," modular building blocks that represent a specific piece of functionality or information. Each pagelet parallels a particular PeopleSoft product line. For instance, there are Portal Packs for human resources, customer resources management, and financials. The portal packs are plug-and-play applications that specifically work within the PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal.

The portal can draw on PeopleSoft applications or integrate with a campus' established system to provide a central access point for all campus services. The roles-based system allows administrators to personalize the content for groups of users (students, faculty) or even to individuals, providing that person has uniquely definable characteristics (tenured biology professor teaching plant physiology). The whole system is password controlled, so the institution d'es not have to maintain multiple security profiles for the many systems accessed.

PeopleSoft Consulting works with all clients to ensure rapid deployment of PeopleSoft technology. The consulting group's six-phase "compass methodology" can install a campus portal in six weeks to six months, depending on the particular needs and situation of the client institution. Typically, roll-out is phased; PeopleSoft gets essential functions up and running for core constituents and then manages the entire plan over a short period of time.

Contact: PeopleSoft Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.; (800) 380-SOFT; www.peoplesoft.com.

Timecruiser CampusCruiser
As an application service provider, Timecruiser is in a position to build and deploy a customized campus portal quickly. The company claims to be able to create a portal in four weeks. The product, CampusCruiser portal, is designed to be easily and quickly loaded with student, faculty, and staff data, all courses, club memberships, and more. Tools for message boards, assignment systems, grade books, shared files, and shared links are ready to go. Timecruiser provides training for portal administrators. It also offers optional train-the-trainer end-user training, as well as implementation consulting, with the focus on how to ensure rapid adoption of the portal by end users.

CampusCruiser integrates with any ERP system. Its features include integrated multiple calendars that operate dynamically on a single screen, integrated e-mail, and invitations. Other communication features include e-mail forwarding, news, announcements, and chat. Course management tools give users access to not only academic information, but also clubs and organizations. Users can personalize the portal with MyFiles and other features and can also synchronize data on their PDAs. A distributed administrative function allows administrators to grant some administrative privileges to faculty and staff users. CampusCruiser is highly customizable for each campus and user.

Contact: Timecruiser Computing Corp., Fairfield, N.J.; (877) 450-9482; www.timecruiser.com.

Blackboard Portal System
Blackboard Inc. views campus portals as community-building tools designed with the end user in mind, rather than just as middleware for the transfer of information. Release 6 of the Blackboard Portal System offers improvements in four key areas: common areas, centralized content management, customization, and collaboration. New features make it easier to provide meeting areas for portal constituents both within the portal (content areas defined by user roles) and outside of it.

Administrators can delegate content management and ownership to particular constituents. Release 6 also allows the school to create up to 20 customizable institutionally sanctioned portal roles. Finally, enhanced collaboration features, including discussion boards and a new Virtual Classroom tool, make more collaborative scenarios possible. The Blackboard Portal System is available on a standalone basis for independent portal technology needs, or integrated with the Blackboard Learning System as an academic portal and/or the Blackboard Transaction System as an eCommerce portal.

Contact: Blackboard Inc., Washington, D.C., (800) 424-9299; www.blackboard.com.

eCollege
eCollege offers a highly modular portal from which institutions can choose the components that best fit its needs. The portal system is part of a complete program administration solution designed to support the overall quality and growth of online distance education programs. eCollege partners each institution with a client services consultant who works with it to develop an appropriate, customized system. The consultant communicates frequently with the administrator during the process, and then works with others at eCollege to deliver the necessary components.

eCollege describes its roles-based portal in terms of public-side and private-side features. Public-side features promote the institution's visibility and marketing of its online program. Public-side modules include the online course catalog, online registration, financial aid, and academic advising information. Private-side features include those that facilitate accessing and managing courses and services, such as calendars, Web access, and community-building tools. In addition, there are separate administrator tools for program management, reporting, and evaluation.

Contact: eCollege, Denver, Colo.; (888) 884-7325; www.ecollege.com.

SCT Luminis Platform III
SCT's Luminis Platform III (formerly the Campus Pipeline Luminis platform) is a unified digital campus solution that includes an integrated portal. The format and layout of the platform make it easy to turn almost any Web-based application into a "channel" accessible through the portal. Institutions can personalize portal content to the role, interests, and needs of individual end users, while locking desired content down, and end users can customize information channels and layout options for their campus portal pages. Specific portal features include e-mail, calendar, personal and campus announcements, administrative services, headlines, and a section for course information.

SCT works closely with each client institution to get the platform, or portal component, up and running quickly and smoothly. Its services division supports campuses that are planning and implementing the technology, first by helping the institution determine its needs and then providing implementation support as needed.

Contact: SCT Corp., Malvern, Pa.; (800) 223-7036; www.sct.com.

Jenzabar Internet Campus Solution
Jenzabar Inc. launched its single sign-on Internet Campus Solution last year. The portal is a modular product: each application consists of numerous portlets (similar to pagelets); universities purchase the portlets that are appropriate for them.

Jenzabar's portal is designed to be not only a gateway, but also a personal organizer and intelligent tool. Using the portal, a student or other campus constituent can manage daily functions and work flow, track items on a daily calendar, and receive notification of campus events. Jenzabar's intelligent portal technology alerts users when an important due date is approaching. Jenzabar also offers a targeting portlet, which allows school administrators to push role-specific information to the schoo's constituents via links, text, or even banners during some predefined date range.

Jenzabar can deploy its portal quickly, sending an implementation specialist to the campus so within three days it is launched: tied to back-end systems with Internet Campus and all portlet modules installed. On the third day, the specialist provides train-the-trainer services. Faculty members can begin building courses on the fourth or fifth day.

Contact: Jenzabar Inc., Cambridge, Mass.; (877) 536-0222; www.jenzabar.net.

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