When you arrive on a college campus, you often get an immediate sense of the institution’s history and priorities. You may pass a football stadium and residential facilities prior to arriving at the academic core of the university. Frequently referred to as “the quad,” this core area physically links the academic buildings, library, administrative offices and student activity center. All campus pathways lead to this physical center of campus. As college campuses have become more electronically connected, the campus Internet portal can easily be seen as a virtual quad. From the campus portal each member of the university community may be linked to all campus services and information, instantly. Each individual’s view of the portal can easily be tailored to unique as well as common needs and interests. This online campus portal is an extension of the brick and mortar of the university. As such, it provides not only the feel and look of the university, but also a common communication tool for off-campus and distance learning participants in the college community. One of the primary challenges in learning, especially online learning, is interaction, specifically communication. Most, if not all, higher education learning is geared toward communities of communication. As we’ve seen in other chapters, portals can provide a cornerstone in creating a sense of community on a campus. This chapter explores the origins of online portals. It outlines the technical history of portals including the first portals, the technology underpinnings of today’s portals and the ways in which portals will evolve in the future. Portals can be defined in two ways. One is by the data that reside within the portal and are aggregated for access by the end user of the portal. The second definition is as a framework for accessing, manipulating and interpreting data. This chapter will discuss both definitions. It will also discuss why the portal’s data offerings are integral to the balance of these two definitions and how portal framework(s) will become essential in higher education. This chapter will focus on the educational benefits of the past, present and future of portals.
Complete Chapter List
Mark Sheehan, Ali Jafari
Stephen C. Ehrmann
William H. Graves, Kirsten Hale
James P. Frazee, Rebecca V. Frazee, David Sharpe
Katy Campbell, Robert Aucoin
Stephen Ast, Cassandra Gerfen