Portal should take the next step

The University upgraded the MyBGSU portal this semester. Users can now log on without typing a 10-digit code. It’s handy.

So is being able to peek at the status of a paycheck, look at the local forecast and download streaming video for class.

But it’s not enough.

In fact, the new system is a step back in the most important way. A simple click count proves that.

Before the system was upgraded, MyBGSU users who wanted to access their Blackboard classes online were able to do so in one mouse click.

Now, students must click the “MyCourses” link, then use the old interface – which is wedged inside the new interface – where they must again click “Courses.” The nice new buttons at the top disappear, dumping students right back into the old MyBGSU system.

That is more labor than necessary for a simple task.

We’re glad the BGSU administrators care about upgrading students’ interface, and we encourage the school to finish what it started.

That means library book renewal from MyBGSU and one-click access to courses.

Almost as important, it means having some options besides CNN’s daily headlines on the portal’s front page.

That statement is one of self-interest, since we want the BG News to be one of those options.

But it’s also a more general request: Make MyBGSU a real portal, with features to rival personalized pages from Yahoo and MSN or the sites of other schools.

We’re halfway there. MyBGSU offers features many schools do not. My UCLA and University of Minnesota OneStop don’t include features like video search.

But there’s more ground to cover. Really Simple Syndication (RSS) technology is cheap and easy. It allows one page to show dozens or hundreds of papers’ headlines at the user’s desire.

MyYahoo uses RSS, offering users the option of seeing headlines from any of hundreds of publications (including the BG News and three of the four other newspapers distributed in dorms), along with the most recent messages in the user’s e-mail inbox.

Other options range from useful to silly: job boards, a word of the day, SNL quotes, weather and dozens of other applets.

Our school’s portal should be able to do this.

We aren’t demanding an SNL dose on MyBGSU. But the ability to log in once to read headlines from USA Today, the Plain Dealer or even the page you’re reading now would be a great next step.