Single signon portal makes sense for university

At Western Michigan, all student services can be delivered from a single secure portal. That makes life easier for web managers and less confusing for students.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

When it comes to university web portals, the magic number is one. Give students and facultry only one options and you won't have to worry so much about lost passwords, unworkable navigation and needless replication of data, reports Campus Technology.

The GoWMU web portal at Western Michigan University lets students register for courses, apply for and check on financial aid, change their addresses, read and send email, access courses within the WebCT e-learning system, and access a host of other administrative functions.

For new students, it's the most efficient way to get familiar with school, and with improved database security systems in place, they can triple the lead time for registering for classes.

"Since we can allow only those with a secure login to register, that's allowed us to feel safe and secure about who's using the system," said Lynn Kelly-Albertson, executive director of career and student employment at WMU.

The biggest hurdle is getting long-time users who've customized their own links and methods for accessing online services. It's the newest users--first-year students--who use the site the most naturally, Kelly-Albertson says.

"It's been a huge culture shift, and we're still shifting," she says. The site has been particularly successful for transactional business that has been moved inside the portal and is no longer available through other access points. WMU is still working at cleaning up items and their associated links that can be accessed from both inside the portal and outside it.

Future plans for GoWMU users are to be able to register vehicles, pay parking tickets, and access the university's extensive library system, all from a single signon.

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