September 29, 2003

Revamped ITD website offers easy access

Donna Price is the coordinator of communications and marketing services for ITD.

The design for the new “Information Technology at Emory” website (, officially launched on Sept. 15, was inspired by the need for a centralized, online tool for accessing the IT resources offered by the Information Technology Division (ITD) and other units across campus.

“Rather than only redesigning the ITD website, it was our desire to create something that would allow for easy navigation across the entire University with respect to IT resources,” said Don Harris, vice provost for IT and chief information officer.

Emory offers a complex array of IT products, services and facilities for instruction, research and administrative functions. The intellectual community stays connected through audio and video streaming, Eagle and LearnLink e-mail, Emory Webmail, Webdrive, course conferencing, teleconferencing and Internet-based videoconferencing services.

For students, the OPUS website offers online tools for 24/7 bidding and course registration; adding and dropping classes; viewing gra des, records and accounts; financial aid services, and viewing and changing demographic information.

Administrative IT systems—such as Resource 25, the PeopleSoft systems and the Donor Records System—streamline and automate business, human resources, alumni/development, purchasing, web application development, document management and space and resource management processes.

Contemporary computing labs and kiosks, multimedia production facilities, and more than 50 technology-enriched classrooms make hands-on course and project-development tools and digital resources readily accessible to faculty and students.

To make it easier for the campus community to locate and distribute information on these IT services and facilities, the new website was designed with end-users in mind.

“When we started looking at a new website design, three things guided our planning,” said Alan Cattier, director of the Academic Technologies Group. “We were concerned with ease of use; we wanted a more consistent look and feel; and we wanted a site we could update quickly.”

Visitors to the sleek new website will find products and services grouped in user-friendly categories, such as “Desktop Computing” and “Academic Computing,” as well as by user group. An “About IT at Emory” section points to general information on University computing policies, Internet 2, the Office of the Vice Provost/CIO website (which also was redesigned), and to helpful links to IT units around campus, including those of the schools of medicine, theology, public health, law and business.

The home page also features an IT news column with timely articles ranging from programs and event schedules to the latest information on security and virus incidents, such as the recent W32.Blaster.Worm attack.

The site sits atop a browser-based content management system (CMS) built by ITD web developers. The CMS requires no specialized web skills, knowledge of HTML or web development software on the desktop computers of those who contribute basic text or images.

“If you can cut and paste text, then you can publish and update content on the web using this system,” said Lee Clontz, ITD web developer. “The hope is that this tool makes web publishing available to anyone who wants to contribute content.”

While still being fine-tuned, the CMS eventually will be programmed to automatically expire outdated content and notify content owners in advance when aging content requires review. It also will drive an expanded “Help Desk” feature with self-service technical support for common computing problems.

“The CMS, affectionately known to its current users as ‘Ducman,’” Cattier said, “was intended not only to serve as the foundation for the IT website, but it’s also a prototype for allowing other organizations to bring content to the web with unparalleled ease of publishing.”