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Portal tossed for tricked out replacement

A new portal system with the potential to replace BUBBs will launch April 1 while IT continues the process of finding a new Internet provider.

Christened my.Biola, the new portal system will revamp functions of the old portal and bring in new options like personalized calendars and access to Facebook. John Tuttle, director of student communications and a leader in the project, said my.Biola may replace BUBBs completely by fall 2011, depending on what e-mail provider officials choose to replace BUBBs.

For now, email and classifieds will remain on BUBBs while the conferences function will appear in the new portal with a design similar to Yahoo Groups. The new design will enable students to chat and share documents, videos and pictures.

“It’ll be a lot more attractive, not quite so 1985,” Tuttle said.

The system, which Biola has worked on for three years, replaced Biola’s main programming, Enterprise Resource Planning, in September when departments like Human Resources, business and accounting were given access.

“We had to begin at the bottom,” he said. “We’re striving to get the necessary channels up first.”

Meanwhile, IT is considering a new broadband system called Bandcon. Scott Himes, director of operations at IT, said negotiations continue. Biola won’t stop using its current internet provider, Verizon. Rather, the new system will serve as a backup, providing the Internet when the regular system goes out, Himes said.

Recent power and internet outages highlighted student concerns.

“The internet frequently goes out and is slow,” said junior Carter Kaminski.

Senior Ben Cole said he’s had a lot of problems with the internet at the McNally buildings and thinks the internet makes users sign in too often.

Cole had similar opinions about the current portal system. Much of Portal’s information goes unused by students and needs rearrangement, he said.

“It’s so confusing,” freshman Meghan Moghtaderi said. “They have some of the nonessential things on the home page, but they don’t put the essential things on the home page.”

Tuttle said clear links to Blackboard, FirstClass and a redesigned WebReg will solve such organizational problems. Announcements based on majors, groups and clubs students belong to will automatically appear on the home page along with other campus announcements.

“The goal is to keep students’ inboxes free from announcements to filter static,” Tuttle said.

Tuttle said more creative options will come in fall 2010 including a tab for accessing Facebook. Later features will allow students to sign up for housing without waiting in lines, to access Blackboard and FirstClass without signing in again, to view grades and financial aid and to keep a checklist for what they need to do to get certain scholarships.

Student workers will have their own section for turning in time cards and accessing databases. Another feature called "What If" will allow students to view what their class schedules will look like if they switch majors. Tuttle said the interactive games and restaurant menus that other universities have provided are possibilities for my.Biola.

“We don’t want it to be a foreign place,” Tuttle said. “We don’t want people to think it was devised in the basement of IT. We’re excited about it. Like releasing a product, being able to turn it over and say, ‘What do you think?’”

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