USF online services to see an upgrade

While USF online services like Blackboard and OASIS will continue to function separately, the two will soon require only one set of login information before users can surf their domains.

USF Information Technology (IT) will implement a revamped MyUSF site Friday that allows students, faculty and staff to access a single website for the University’s most important Internet functions.

Associate Vice President of IT George Ellis said MyUSF will give users individually tailored sites that include links to their OASIS and Blackboard accounts without requiring additional login information. Additionally, all staff members will have a link to GEMS. The sites will remain unchanged.

“The main thing we want people to know is everything will still be there,” Ellis said. “The front landing page will just be different.”

Also on the home page will be a personal class schedule, Bull Bucks account balance and important school calendar dates, as well as links to Google Mail, Google Docs and Parking Services.

MyUSF is an effort to streamline and simplify access to information and was heavily influenced by students, Ellis said. Students and faculty can use the same NetID and password to access Blackboard.

“It is an outgrowth of the two portals (OASIS and Blackboard) and a lot of complaints,” he said. “When Vice President for IT Mike Pierce got here two years ago, he said that (having) the two portals were very unusual.”

Director of Education Technology Dennis Walpole said the project created a more efficient way to communicate because it can be used to make campus-specific announcements, including ones for small groups.

IT released a working trial version of MyUSF on Aug. 12 to gather suggestions from users on how to improve the site.

“We’ve had mostly positive feedback,” Ellis said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good comments about the layout.”

Ellis estimates development of the MyUSF project, which was funded by the student-paid technology fee, has cost about $200,000. Microsoft, which assisted the project by allowing the University to use its Sharepoint software for the new site, also received payments.

“(Microsoft) did a lot of free consulting as well,” Ellis said. “You don’t see that very often.”

Julia Payne, IT’s Web services manager, said the site lends itself to the addition of more features. Possible new applications include integration of the BullTracker system and financial aid information.

Associate Director of IT Christopher Akin said the University community will have the opportunity to suggest new applications as well.

“The big complaint we received is, ‘Why so many passwords?'” he said. “With a single portal, USF can function with less passwords and more access.

“With feedback, we will be able to create audience-targeted content. Life will be made easier for everyone on here.”