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Enter...The Portal

And relax, because life online at TC just got easier through a portal providing central access to all the resources that are targeted to you, whether you're a student, staff or faculty member
Whether you’re new to Teachers College, or just returning after the summer, check out that blue icon in the upper right-hand corner of the TC home page that says “myTC login.” Introduced by Computing and Information Services on a pilot basis back in the spring, and now launched college-wide, myTC is your ticket to easier, more centralized navigation when you work on the TC Web, whether you’re a faculty member, staff member or student.

“The idea behind the myTC portal is to integrate everything that TC people use behind a single sign-on,” says Ena Haines, Director of Information Technology. “It’s a secure environment that provides an easily navigable framework for everything you do in your different roles at TC—and a lot of people here have more than one.”

So, for example, if you’re a student, once you’ve logged into myTC, you have access to ClassWeb and course announcements without having to log in again. Or if you’re a staff supervisor with direct reports, logging in to myTC gives you access to leave reports.

“It’s customized—it knows who you are when you log in,” Haines says.

To log into myTC, you need your Columbia University Network Identifier (your UNI, which is the part of your e-mail address before the @ sign, your initials followed by an assigned number) and the password you use with it. (If you don’t know them, click on the “TC Help” function.) Logging in takes you to a welcome page with College-wide announcements (made by a small group of authorized people from the Provost’s office, public safety and other area VPs). There’s another channel, Announcements for Me, with targeted announcements for particular groups—for example, telling people in a particular building about planned maintenance.

“And then, of course, there are the vital ones—Free Food and Lost and Found,” Haines says, with a smile. “Those are designed to do away with all those emails that fly back and forth and clog up the system. And it will also be a boon to students, who arguably need free food the most, because right now they don’t get emails that are addressed to the community.”

Another clickable category offers updates on the weather, upcoming events and even reserved readings from the TC library. And there’s also a self-service category through Banner that facilitates signing up for TC alerts, submitting and approving leave reports and timesheets, updating personal information and more.

Portal users can also download software that’s free or for which TC has a paid subscription, including for home use by faculty and students.

“For example, faculty and students can download anti-virus programs and End Note, a bibliographic tool for scholarly work,” Haines says.

Paul Acquaro, Director of TC’s Office of the Web, praises the Portal as a platform for such programs. “I think the nice thing about the portal is that it gives us a way to create Web applications without worrying about logins and other security issues like who people are,” Acquaro says. “It’s a platform for developing more and more sophisticated online tools.”

Students can also access a category called “My Account,” showing their tuition balance for the semester. The system lets them drop and add courses, check on financial aid and, of course, look at their grades.

The myTC portal is based on the Luminis Platform from SunGuard Higher Education, the vendor of TC’s Banner enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, but was adapted in-house by a team led by senior programmer Ed Presutti. The effort is still a work in progress.

“We’re soliciting feedback from people—just e-mail us at mytc@tc.edu,” Haines says. “And we want to add some additional bells and whistles”—for example, a set of collaboration tools for non-class groups, such as faculty doing a joint research project or people working together on a committee; and (working with the Office of Community and Diversity) an Intranet version of the TC directory which will include staff photos.

“The goal,” Haines says, “is to bring access to all the functions that people need together in a secure, easily used common gateway.”

Find myTC through the blue icon at the top right of the TC homepage or at http://my.tc.edu/.

Published Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2009


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