Top 4 Takeaways from University of Maryland & OneCampus—A Year in Review
The introduction of new technology in higher education is a dynamic and evolving journey for both campuses and service providers. This past year I’ve had the unique opportunity to learn how Internet2 NET+ cloud services and applications are reviewed, evaluated, and tailored to meet the unique needs and diverse challenges faced by institutions today. A NET+ cloud offering I have really seen grow and evolve is OneCampus from rSmart.
OneCampus is essentially the campus portal reimagined for the twenty-first century. It's a lightweight, cloud-based solution that helps students quickly find and access the services, information, and applications they need to be successful. While OneCampus doesn’t magically optimize an institution’s legacy systems for smaller displays, it can help schools begin to modernize and meet the demand for a responsive search and discovery tool that’s as easy-to-use on a smartphone or tablet as it is on a laptop or desktop computer.
When I was first introduced to rSmart, they had recently completed the Internet2 NET+ service validation process working with a group of campuses for OneCampus, formed a product advisory committee, and signed the University of Maryland as one of their early adopters. Fast forward a year and the OneCampus community has expanded to more than 15 institutions and One.UMD has streamlined access to campus services and applications for more than 37,000 students and 9,800 faculty and staff.
In a webinar this past week by rSmart and Internet2, Skip Warnick and Akilah Jackson from the University of Maryland discussed their evaluation and selection of OneCampus, shared lessons learned during their implementation, provided a brief tour of One.UMD, and demonstrated how they are continuing to fine-tune their site to serve a diverse audience of users on campus.
1. Ease of use and lightweight for quick implementation: the OneCampus solution was found to be lightweight and easy to use and initially mirrored Indiana University’s One.IU site when building out tasks, categories, and roles—on a compressed implementation timeline. Mr. Warnick shared that one of the goals of the One.UMD platform was “to provide one place to go to discover services offered across the university.” The site was branded to match the existing UMD website and at the initial rollout in January, 2014 they had more than 100 tasks that focused on services and information typically accessed at the start of a semester such as SIS applications, financial aid, dining, etc.
2. Cross-department implementation: working across departments and service areas helped to ensure the broader university audience’s needs were served.
3. Communications: excitement and adoption grew by working with the UMD communications office to publicize One.UMD on various websites, during orientation, in the campus newspaper, and through email and direct mail.
4. User feedback to inform the future: as UMD begins their second year with OneCampus, Ms. Jackson discussed how they are working to “think outside of the box” by refining the use of task centers, tags, categories, and markets. She also shared how they are continuing to meet with stakeholders to gain user feedback.
Lindsay Smith, client services director at rSmart, also shared how UMD and other OneCampus adopters are helping drive future product enhancements and features through the rSmart/Internet2 product advisory committee, voting on development priorities, and input through the rSmart Customer Care Center. Ms. Smith highlighted a number of the key enhancements added this past year including task-level announcements; alerts; a URL checker; improved publishing workflows; the redesign of the header and task tiles; compatibility with CAS, Google Auth and ADFS; and a new site branding area.