Campus Blog

Is Your Portal Modern & Mobile or Weary and Worn-Out?

In 2019, today’s “traditional” university students grew up with likes, #hashtags, and YouTube.  Research tells us that these students are far more inclusive and group-oriented than past undergraduates.  They expect more control, are far more adept at creating content alongside existing content, and are highly social while being digitally adept.  Even non-traditional students are far less enamored by technology, more easily adapting to and leveraging digital tools, while even expecting a certain level of modernity in every facet of their lives.

But despite student expectations and the tremendous values of efficiency and connection that modern systems can provide, many schools are still lumbering along with old, outdated, highly inefficient student platforms and systems.  Perhaps no greater example of out-of-date technology can be seen at a college or university than the (student) portal.

Looking for a Better Solution?

Perhaps too narrowly labeled, the portal which likely impacts every possible stakeholder on campus (beyond merely servicing students), is often as old as the Student Information System which may be a decade or even two decades old.  This, along with the sun-setting of some portals (such as Ellucian’s Luminis portal), is why so many people are asking about how to switch to Campus, a modern, mobile connector of people, systems, content, support, and more.

After working through typical, entrepreneurial issues with an extremely small university pool in Australia, Campus has taken US colleges and universities by storm, seeing a host of partners come on board since moving to the states two years ago.  In its short time in the U.S., Campus has won awards, grants, and is bringing contemporary connection back to schools, who are desperately seeking a better way. 

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This or that?

There are a small set of choices when it comes to a portal solution.  IT leaders who are keeping up with generational research will tell you that those choices ultimately matter a great deal.

While a few schools still choose to build their own experience, most have realized the incredibly expensive proposition for such an undertaking.  At the same time, there are really only a few design architectures to choose from in the portal space. 

PortalGenericThe oldest portal platforms are likely best described as “link farms.”  We have had inquiries from colleges and universities with upwards of 400 unique links!  Of course, all those links mean students have to find the right link when they need it, which most IT professionals will tell you rarely happens.  These old-school portals are rarely mobile, let alone mobile friendly.  They may contain a few custom widgets, built with old-code and now difficult to manage or change, but for the most part, they are pure (weak) functionality.

To overcome the need to change or transform portals, some schools looked to mobile solutions in the 2000’s.  These mobile portals obviously were not ideal for older students and/or staff and faculty who prefer to do work on computers.  But in addition, the mobile first solution only got schools so far.  The heavy lifting of constant integration as well as the systems and platforms that were simply unable to launch from a mobile app left many schools looking for something else entirely.

Some more modern portals chose to mimic the look and feel of a mobile platform, while connecting people to the right systems and process information (such as a calendar).  This tile-based look and feel never really felt appropriate on a web-based machine, still seeing students struggle to find the right tile for the right job at the right time.  Additionally, the few tile-based experiences that tried to leverage a social component to their system found little adoption as “off-to-the-side” socialness is never really embraced since a network effect is required.  So while they look prettier than old-school setups, they are still not providing a transformative experience. 

Campus.app

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 2.57.23 pmThat is why we built Campus.  Campus perfectly marries functionality with socialness, support, and search.  Campus has total parity whether using a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.  Through integrations with any / every other system your college or university uses, students finally see notifications of emails, messages, updates, and more. 

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10 Advantages of Campus

In addition to connecting every student, faculty, and staff, to all people, content, systems, and support, Campus also:

Personalizes the experience. 
Does a Freshman need to see 200 links?  Does a prospect?  Of course not.  Campus shows the right stuff to the right person at the right time.  And of course, every user can also customize their menu to add their favorites along the way, making this a true, one-stop-shop for all academic / collegiate needs.

Supports students. 
Not only is the power of crowdsourcing alive and well within the Campus system, seeing peer support and even peer learning experiences every day for every partner, but Campus easily notifies the right person, group, department, or more when a specific word or phrase is written, ensuring help can get to students faster than you ever thought possible. 

Sees greater open and read rates. 
You will have entirely new targeted groups and organizations at your fingertips, while ensuring stakeholders see incoming message notifications through an omni-channel approach. 

Highlights notifications.
From bill alerts to assignment notifications to campus announcements and beyond, you can easily pass along or tailor new messages for the right person at the right time. 

Gives one-click access to everything.  Password issues are a thing of the past.  Campus gives every student, staff, and administrator access to every platform, system, and tool you have safely, securely, and simply.    

Connects everything through APIs. 
While not required, Campus uses RESTful-APIs whenever possible to help your organization easily connect with everything.


Offers search and discover. 
Campus helps users find anything they need.  From pages of content to tools to posts and beyond, Campus not only makes search as easy as Google, but even promotes connections, content, events, and more through recommendations.  Campus can even ingest your known FAQ’s and provide answers from any text area throughout the system!


Helps people connect to people. 
For too long, colleges and universities have expected every student to “connect” only to their majors or classes, even though we know that simply does not happen.  But for many students, connecting to something else at the school makes their academic experience far more meaningful and successful.  Campus helps constituents create community around the things that matter to them most. 

Creates ROI, especially through data. From what students are clicking on, searching for, posting to, liking, and more, Campus provides a stream of affective data that reaches far beyond normal measures.  See how connected, satisfied, and/or engaged your entire student population is.

Has native Android and iOS apps.
Just like the entire system personalizes a list of curated links to tools, content, and organizations, your college or university students, administrators, faculty, prospects, alumni, and even parents or guests can download and launch YOUR branded app from the app store. 


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How Easy Is It...Really?

Everyone will tell you that switching is easy.  So, let’s be honest.  From a technical perspective, yes, it is not that difficult.  There will be a few meetings to determine who will do some of the lifting (will you write code for the API connectors or should we?  How do we get the API keys from your other vendor relationships?  Etc.).  But more important than the 2-3 weeks of technical work are the recommendations around change management. 

partnershipThis is why Campus has hired people from Community Colleges, Private Colleges, and Universities whose collective experience totals more than 60 years.  We employ people who have (literally) implemented Campus at their schools.  Our desire is not to drop off a technology and wish you the best.  We have heard the same horror stories of mobile developers and other portal operations that do exactly that (and with open source platforms you’re often on your own to figure it out).  No, our genuine desire is partnership.  So, we do our best to help you through the change management process, from strategy to implementation and beyond. 

This is also one reason we have partnership success calls on a regular cadence, essentially as often as you want / need.  This helps explain our Innovative Partner Program with discounts for service as well as the Product Advisory Board, made up entirely of leaders from partner institutions.  There is even a development program seeing discounted rates for work on aspects of the platform that are then shared with any other partner who desires them!

Campus – A Truly Modern Experience

Your campus population deserves to work, communicate, and succeed using the best tools possible.  At a fraction of the cost of the LMS, Campus delivers a hyper-connected, modern experience via web or mobile. 

This all ties back to our Campus Mission: Our partners don’t have students who can’t succeed. 

We take that very seriously.  Because we know you take that very seriously. 

Modern. Personalized. Connected. Far beyond a portal. That’s Campus.

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Dr. Jeff D. Borden
Posted by  Dr. Jeff D. Borden  on Apr 26, 2019 9:06:24 AM

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