By Shianna Gibbons
Students, faculty and staff may have noticed a message on the Penguin Portal website to switch to the replacement, Ellucian Experience.
Jeff Wormley, the project manager, said the Ellucian Experience is still the Penguin Portal but with a different design. However, external forces are the reason for the change.
“The current software that hosts Penguin Portal is being ‘end-of-life’ by the company that owns it,” Wormley said. “We want to be off the old portal by March 1, 2024.”
Ellucian Experience will have every feature the old Penguin Portal had but with a few new features. Rather than one page with different links, anyone can customize it to fit their needs using “cards.”
Cards are viewable links anyone can place on the dashboard for quick access, Wormley said. Cards can be pinned and locked into place and can have different functions. Some different cards include a live weather view from WKBN, students’ grades, course schedules or a To-Do list card.
“Ellucian Experience allows you to pick what you want as cards on your [dashboard],” Wormley said. “If there’s something you don’t ever use, don’t put it on your wall. [The cards] allow you to pick what you want to use instead of scrolling through 75 links pages.”
Wormley also said the marketing team managed the aesthetic design of the Ellucian Experience.
“There’s a lot more vibrant colors, photos and images than before,” Wormley said. “Now, there’s actually photos that relate to the cards, and it looks a lot more friendly. Marketing and Communications [department] take care of branding and IT takes care of how it works.”
During the summer, Ellucian Experience went live and student-focus groups were held to modify and make more user-friendly edits.
Rosalyn Donaldson, director of IT Training Services and academic continuity team manager, said the student-focus groups were beneficial in moving the project forward.
“There were probably 20 students that met with us in a big group. We asked them several questions, they responded and they kind of tore it apart, which is what we expected and wanted them to do,” Donaldson said. “It was exciting feedback and [the students] all liked the flexibility.”
Despite the Ellucian Experience being available, IT is still improving the user experience. Donaldson said there will be about nine different focus groups based on different departments on campus.
“If you’re working with student-centric areas, we wanted those people to be together because maybe they could bounce ideas off one another,” Donaldson said.
According to Wormley, the project has been in the works since spring and was less expensive than anticipated.
“[The software for Ellucian Experience] was part of a bundle that the university was already buying anyway. So, there’s very minimal software cost, and we saved money,” Wormley said. “Anytime we implement anything there’s a labor cost but the team was really efficient and did a good job. So, it’s actually a lot less than we expected.”
Donaldson said Ellucian Experience has a video and resources available to help students, faculty and staff navigate the website. Donaldson also said she doesn’t envision any trouble as it’s more user-friendly, but IT Training Services can help individuals also.
If students, faculty or staff experience any problems relating to the website or their devices, the IT Service Desk is located on the first floor of Kilcawley Center behind Jamba Juice.