Last week, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) and IT released a revamped Student Gateway on the Bowdoin homepage. The new gateway, which can be accessed at bowdoin.edu/students, enables students to customize the content and layout of the page.
Mark Hendrickson '07, who designed the new site through IT this summer, explained, "On the old gateway, there was little method to the way that content was organized. Links to random parts of the Bowdoin site and elsewhere were scattered throughout the page."
Students can add content from outside sources, such as The New York Times or Rolling Stone, through RSS feeds. Panels, which display information on anything from dining menus to student digest posts to the athletic events, can be chosen and arranged by the student.
"These panels not only serve to organize information by topic more clearly, they can also be moved around the page, visually customized, and added or removed so that the gateway looks just the way the student wants," said Hendrickson.
"All changes to the panels are automatically saved if the student has signed in, so the student can view their customized page on whichever computer they later sign into," he said.
The gateway also contains an entirely new feature?a student event calendar. Unlike the College's online calendar, anyone with a Bowdoin username can access and contribute to this calendar.
"The gateway was built around the concept of a central student calendar, which, I would say, is the most important new feature," said BSG President DeRay Mckesson '07.
"Never before has there existed a place where students could post event on a calendar that all students would have access to," he said.
Robert Denton, a web designer at IT, said, "This gateway in my opinion benefits students such that they can customize a view of college and external resources in one convenient place that is a measure more functional than our previous, mostly static gateway."
When designing the page, Hendrickson referred popular "portal" sites such as Netvibes.com, My Yahoo!, and Google Personalized Homepage as inspirations for the design.
"I got my ideas from a variety of sources?friends, web sites...my colleagues in IT, and simply my own thoughts about what I would like to see on a gateway," said Hendrickson.
So far, students have responded positively.
"I think it's useful," said Joyce Mendes '09. "It's much more organized."
Tim Gamwell '09 said, "I think that they bring the library and the directory to it, so it's all in the same place."
Gamwell also noted the special features, adding, "You can customize it. Mine's orange."
Hendrickson has received a number of suggestions as to how he could improve the site. He plans to implement several new features over the course of the year, including panels for checking email messages and playing streaming audio from WBOR. The faculty and staff gateways will also be redesigned along the same line as the new student gateway within the next year.
BSG has been promoting the site?posters in the union read, "It's like Smith Union. Everything you need in one place" and "Raincoat or fleece? Bowdoin weather. Know before you walk out the door."
"BSG is continuing to monitor the growth of the gateway and is primarily responsible for its promotion," said Mckesson. "The gateway is everybody's."
"I think it's amazing. It's one-stop-shopping for campus life,"