College, NSIT develop a more user-friendly portal to informationBy Josh Schonwald
Getting information about life in the College just got a whole lot easier. In December 2004, the College launched its revamped—and vastly expanded—Web site.
The new site, http://www.college.uchicago.edu, now gives students in the College a single, user-friendly portal for information about a wide range of issues—from adding and dropping classes, to when to begin preparing for graduate school, to where to buy books.
There will be less confusion, less surfing and perhaps less anxiety for undergraduates, said Lou Tremante, Senior Adviser in the College. “If it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you want to know the implications for withdrawing from a class, you don’t have to struggle to find it or ask a roommate,” said Tremante. “It will be easily accessible on this single site.”
A key improvement, said Tremante, who supervised the project along with Stacy Shintani, Senior Web Designer in Networking Services and Information Technology, is simply the merger of two sites, the Dean of Students in the College and the College Web sites, into one College site. The two sites had a lot of overlapping information and were functioning as parallel but redundant sites, Tremante explained.
Visitors to the new College site will notice several other changes that are aimed at user-friendliness. For one, Tremante said, “information is no longer buried.” The front page of the site has direct links to nearly 50 pages; students no longer have to click several times to get key information, such as “how to add/drop” classes” or “how to get involved in community service.” The new site architecture seeks to “raise the profile of information that is frequently sought by students.”
What’s more, in responding to student needs, the site now has new content, which puts more student self-services at a single address. Students now can go to the College site to get forms and petitions—from the “Request for Leave of Absence” form to a petition to take Physical Sciences 10900, which in the past would have required a trip to the College Adviser’s office.
As a single point of contact for academic information about the College, the site also is expected to provide departments with a vehicle to advertise their concentrations, Tremante said. For instance, in the past, students would have to check departmental bulletin boards to learn about new classes that had been added late in a quarter.
Now students can visit the College site to sign up for departmental email list hosts, a tool more departments are using to inform students about new courses and late-breaking news.
In addition, said Tremante, the College site features a list of all of the departments and programs that operate Web sites aimed at a College audience: http://www.college.uchicago.edu/academics/information_sources.shtml. Another College site component is a page listing the departments that offer advice and opportunities for undergraduates interested in research: http://www.college.uchicago.edu/academics/research_opportunities_deps.shtml.
The site is the outgrowth of the College Web committee, which Susan Art, Dean of Students in the College, formed last spring, and which Tremante and Shintani co-chaired.
Throughout the past spring and summer Tremante and Shintani met informally with students, asking them about their information needs. Of the end product, Tremante said, “I hope it will be easier for students to find the information that they need.”