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Wayne State rethinks its campus web portal, introduces Academica

August 17, 2014


When the IT leaders at Wayne State University talk about the limitations of their legacy campus portal, they reach for analogies to describe their dissatisfaction. "Our old campus portal looked like the classified section of your daily newspaper," said Rob Thompson, director of academic and core applications. "There was very little design cohesiveness." Or as Daren Hubbard, senior director of enterprise applications, put it: Universities have designed portals as "parcels of real estate like it was some kind of a shopping mall. If you got a storefront, meaning a link or a tab, then you got some eyeballs coming your way. That was your goal, instead of adding value for the users coming to the site." Wayne State decided to build its own portal solution, focused particularly on fostering real-time, two-way communication and better anticipating users' needs. Called Academica, the new portal offers single sign-on as an authenticated front door to applications, and is designed from the ground up to work on any mobile device. But first and foremost it is a social networking platform that enhances and enables collaboration.