PennPortal revamps look




With the start of a new semester comes the unveiling of a new and improved PennPortal.

The revamped site was launched Monday with a fresh look and more ways for students to individually customize the centralized online resource according to their own needs.

PennPortal now has a different format, but retains the same functions as before.

Students can still access their class schedules and transcripts, log on to Blackboard and research student groups on the site.

One of the main goals of the update was “to provide a more ‘contemporary’ feel to the PennPortal, which was first introduced in the late ‘90s,” the IT Director at Information and Computing Systems, a collaborator in the project, Dan Shapiro said.

“Many students felt that the old PennPortal design ... was now too crowded and busy looking,” he added.

Engineering sophomore Chinmay Paranjape agreed, “Beforehand, it was a huge mess. It looked like some of the cheat sheets I’ve made for math,” he said.

The update was the result of a collaboration between the Undergraduate Assembly and the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, the Office of the Provost, ISC, Student Registration and Financial Services and the Division of Business Services.

ISC began talks to revamp the site over 18 months ago, said Rob Nelson, director of undergraduate education in the Office of the Provost.

The site was then piloted over the past summer to the incoming Class of 2013.

“ISC recognized that the content of PennPortal had the potential to be moved around, but that students weren’t really using these functions,” Nelson said.

The purpose of this revamp, he added, “was not brand new functionality, but rather to highlight what was there already.”

The update to PennPortal comes on the heel’s of last year’s Penn InTouch revamp.

In the future, Penn InTouch will save 3.5 million pages of paper every year as it replaces printed copies of Course Timetables and Course Registers.

The move away from paper will result in annual savings of more than $30,000, accord- ing to SRFS Information Technology Director Regina Koch and Director of Operations Jackie Smith.

College sophomore Charley Ma said overall he prefers the new PennPortal. “It doesn’t seem like there were huge changes like the way they completely overhauled Penn InTouch, but it certainly does look more appealing and not as overwhelming as before,” Ma said.

While Paranjape acknowledged that the site was an improvement, he was frustrated because he had only recently learned to use the old site.

“One thing I find annoying is they haven’t finished updating whatever they were doing with the login system and so now you can’t just login and go to all the Penn applications like Blackboard, Penn InTouch, and you have to keep logging in,” he added.

U@Penn, the faculty version of Penn Portal, has remained the same.

There are no plans to update U@Penn at this time, according to Shapiro.

“I definitely have portal envy,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dennis DeTurck.

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