The main test for project leader Marc Dolman’s team was three months ago: three hundred students from various faculties were shown the Student Portal. “An exciting moment. We worked on it for a long time, continually involving students, because they were asked from the very beginning what they wanted and what it should look like. The result? Less than 3 per cent was dissatisfied, 15 per cent was neutral and 82 per cent was satisfied to very satisfied.” The single login, set-up, and user friendliness were aspects that appealed to the test subjects. The criticism – such as the screen size of certain elements – was used to improve the system.
“The new portal is a clever, attractive shell that incorporates three existing systems: EleUM, SAP, and Timetable,” says Dolman. “They were included, but are no longer visible as such. That is why we have asked lecturers – who still enter their block information into EleUM – to no longer mention EleUM. The new generation of students have no idea what that actually is.”
Accessing the new Student Portal, users will get an overview that includes a timetable, important announcements, exam dates, grades, et cetera. Students can sign up and sign off for exams and see an ‘alert’ when a deadline approaches. All in Maastricht University’s house style, from one and the same designer, Zuiderlicht. A single click provides access to an overview of blocks – the blocks that the student is taking, the ones that he or she has (or hasn’t) passed. There is also a link to a UM Launchpad. “This is like an app store, which includes eighty links, for example to the faculty intranet or the university library. It is up to the student to determine which links are relevant; these will be presented on the main screen.”
Since Monday, students from Humanities and Sciences and the School of Business and Economics have been provided with login credentials. The four other faculties will follow in two weeks’ time. “Because three systems have been included in the Student Portal, we want to prevent it from going haywire if 16 thousand students were given access at the same time. We are following our philosophy: ‘Everything one step at a time’.”
Lecturers are being asked “to fill the system well. Students expect to find assignment deadlines there, it would be nice if they were all listed.” According to Dolman, the portal is “always in beta. The input that we receive from students will be used to continually improve the portal.”