UIW gets new portal

By Shayvanna Malcolm


myWord, a new portal offering convenience, can be seen on the home page above the search bar next to the previously existing links to mail and Blackboard.

Launched Sept. 26, development of the myWord portal began in April 2010. The portal is currently in “Phase 1,” which consists of the features that University of the Incarnate Word students, faculty and staff can access now.

“Our hope is that the portal will be the central point for current students and faculty,” said Sandy Givens, director of enterprise systems for UIW’s technology department.

There are plans for a “Phase 2” which will include a messenger system and the ability to send text messages from the portal.  Also, plans are in the works to expand the portal to offer resources useful to alumni and other groups.

The university is in the process of conducting focus groups to see what additional features students would like to see on the portal. Enterprise systems also encourages users to access the “Suggestion Box” located at the top of the portal home page to submit feedback.

“It is important to get feedback so we know what is important to the students,” Givens said.

When users first log in to the portal, they are prompted to complete four security questions.  These questions make it simple to reset passwords at any time. Password resets sync over the entire UIW network with the exception of Bannerweb.  With access to Blackboard, e-mail, and Bannerweb within inches of one another, the portal offers convenience that has previously been unmatched at the University.

For example, once logged into the portal, there is no need to re-type log-in information to access the other features. Simply click the icon.

“I like not having to memorize a bunch of different passwords,” said Frederick Broussard, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major. “I also like that everything is in a little block. You don’t have to open a whole new window every time (to) want to see your transcript or e-mail.”

Grad student Vanessa Garza, who also works for the university, also likes myWord.

“I come from an employee and student perspective so I like the convenience of being able to access my paycheck stubs and my grades,” Garza said.

Additionally, the portal offers instant access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as links to other helpful University resources such as the library, housing portal, and Cardinal Cars.  University e-mail calendars sync with the University events calendar and can also be edited by the user.  The portal also has the capacity to sync with Yahoo, Google, and other external e-mail servers in the future, given expressed interest from portal users.

One of the notable features for myWord portal is the ability for mobile access. By logging in to https://my.uiwtx.edu with a smart phone, the same web features can be accessed in seconds even when the UIW homepage is down.

Alex Ruiz, database administrator for enterprise systems, said myWord is a “one-stop-shop,” adding, “The portal is meant to consolidate and cut down on confusion.”

The myWord portal has the ability to go beyond strictly University functions.  One of its purposes is to replace the library VPN client, thus allowing access to the databases and other library resources easily from home. The portal also features the Stoneware Cloud Operating System which offers storage space. In the future, the myWord portal will offer an option for remote access to Office Suite programs. It also will house its own social networking system, blogosphere, and personal web space for users.

“We’re just really excited (about myWord),” said Angela Williams, application support analyst for Enterprise Systems.

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