The University of Montana

Homepage tools get revamped

In Projects, Web on January 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

A few subtle but significant changes are in the works for The University of Montana’s homepage complex. New and improved tools are available for you to try out now in a beta site.

UM web developers would like your feedback on changes described below. To help the effort, go to beta.umt.edu, use the tools and click on the feedback tab on the left side of the screen to report your experiences.

In addition to the visible changes, the new site is hosted on a cluster of four servers rather than a single server, which should enhance speed and availability.

“We can upgrade one server while the others are in operation,” says Tom Battaglia, who heads up the IT web group. “We’ll have no planned downtime. And we’ll sleep better.”

 

What to look for

 

Login

 You can log into UM’s central authentication services with your NetID directly from the new homepage. The link is on the tip right between the Directory and Search options. If you are logged in, your name appears on the page. You can click on your name to access secure services like CyberBear, UMOnline and student email without having to authenticate again.

In the future, you will see a notice when you have official messages waiting for you.

Enhanced search

The new search tool returns more than just web pages and featured UM links. Now you get People and Places. People results are pulled from the campus directory, while Places are connected to the campus map. The results page also displays results from a UM acronym database, an idea that came from the University’s incentive award program.

Directory

The directory tool streamlines the people search process. Two input fields—Last Name and First Name—have been collapsed into one. And search results are displayed on a single page, rather than requiring you to scroll through multiple pages. For UM employees, you can click on the department name to view all of the people who work in that department.

Default tab

On the current UM homepage, you can choose which tab you want to set as your default, such as “Current Students” or “Faculty & Staff.” The new site will simply return you to the last tab you were on during your previous visit.

Feature stories controls

The navigation for the feature stories at the top of the homepages has been simplified. Now there are arrows on either side of the graphic to allow you to scroll through the features, taking up less space on the screen.

Photo gallery

A photo gallery has replaced the postcard gallery. The plan is to allow people to submit photos for possible inclusion in the gallery.

Community Hub goes live

In Communication, Innovation, Media, Projects, Web on January 9, 2012 at 10:00 am

Social media creates a paradox for college campuses. While Facebook, Twitter and other networks help build campus communities, those communities have been disconnected from the University’s web pages.

Now there’s a tool that facilitates a connection between the two. It’s called Community Hub.

Community Hub is a searchable directory of UM-related social media channels developed by the IT web team. You can use Community Hub to find UM content in Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. It also catalogs UM blogs and email listservs. Sites are searchable by keywords and categorized by subject and social media platform.

“For incoming students it’s a great way to get involved,” says Jamie Robertson, a Community Hub developer.  “You might not know that there’s a backcountry ski club, but you can find out that there’s a group and they have a blog. Or you can search by type, so if you want your Facebook page to have all of the cool stuff going on at UM, you can just look at who has Facebook pages.”

Robertson points out that Community Hub is not a tool to consume content from social media sites. Rather, it’s a way to find communities and feeds and subscribe to them with one click.

UM departments and clubs that would like to have their social media sites listed in the directory can submit a request from the Community Hub homepage. Only University-sponsored activities and interests will be included in the Hub.

“The burden is on people who have something to put in the Community Hub to let us know,” says Tom Battaglia, assistant CIO for Technology Support Services in IT. “We can’t do that for them, but we’ve provided the tool.”

“The hope is that some of these communities that are languishing because of no exposure will benefit from this,” Robertson says.  We think Community Hub will encourage campus collaboration and community, which is something that any university wants.”

The first release of Community Hub will be a beta release that includes about 40 campus social media communities.

A good gig

In Innovation, Network on January 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm

A few months ago, The University of Montana, in partnership with the City of Missoula, became one of the founding members of Gig U. Gig U’s mission is to “accelerate the deployment of world-leading, next generation networks in the United States in a way that provides an opportunity to lead in the next generation of ultra high speed network services and applications.”

Today, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, wrote an op-ed piece that helps us understand what’s at stake. He says that the globalization and IT revolutions are combining to give people the tools and ecosystems to innovate, collaborate and create new products and services.

“The best of these ecosystems will be cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fasted broadband connections on earth,” Friedman writes.

As one member of the Missoula contingent said, “the Friedman column is the best explanation I’ve seen yet of why this is important.”

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