posted 2012-02-17 17:03:57

Too Many Websites!

A call to make Hunter’s digital realm more user-friendly

Christian Davies

Contributing Writer

Can you imagine if you had to visit five different websites with three different user names and passwords every time you wanted to find a new piece of information on Google? If that were the case, we’d avoid the site like E. coli. So if we’re not willing to put up with such frustration on the Internet, why on earth should we put up with it at Hunter?

Between applying as a transfer student last Spring and beginning classes this past week, I was given five different websites to go to for pertinent information: cuny.edu, “MyChoice” (I still haven’t figured out if this is the same as MyHunter and have absolutely no idea what purpose is served by either), Hunter WebMail (Enhanced and Standard Editions), CUNY Portal, and hunter.cuny.edu. To gain access to these five different websites, I was given three different passwords and three different usernames—one for MyChoice (or MyHunter), one for Hunter Webmail, and one for CUNY Portal. It’s quite a lot for a new student to keep track of, especially if the new student has a full-time job and other responsibilities that don’t leave hours of free time to sort through a complicated sprawl of indecipherable sites.

There should be one website with one username and one password where students can go for everything: one place to register for classes, one place to communicate with faculty, one place to find homework assignments, to pay tuition bills, to do whatever else we need to do in order to ensure our success as students. But wait, isn’t that what CUNY Portal is? So why on earth do we have a slew of unnecessary websites floating around? We should eliminate those that don’t serve a clear purpose and condense the others into one site.

So many different sites and usernames and passwords to keep up with can have a direct negative effect on our academic performance. Business and time management guru David Allen has written a wonderful bestseller called, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. In the book, Allen emphasizes the importance of having a single, designated location where all our things to do—personal and professional—are placed, so that we have one reliable, consistent “inbox” where we can oversee the organization of our lives. Allen goes on to explain that a lot of the daily stress we feel is due to keeping too much information in our heads and not enough out on paper, or in an inbox, where it belongs.

The current setup of Hunter’s online community is the opposite of a setup that could foster “stress-free productivity,” which I imagine is the educational desire of every student, teacher, counselor, and administrator.

We need to get back to one well-organized and functional website—one that is clear, concise, and as accessible as possible for students and teachers, with easy-to-find links on the homepage. These links should have with names that make sense to an ordinary person— after all, are names like eSIMS, ePermit, and eSched really helpful to anybody? Links should be clear, with names like “Register for Classes” or “View Currently Registered Classes Here.”

Student Advisement Degree Audit?” That sounds like something from a bad science-fiction novel. Is there any downside to renaming this link? Is there any reason not to call it “What You Need to Do to Graduate?”

If it sounds like I’m advocating for dumbing things down, you’re right. Leave us some brain-power to apply to our classes, where it belongs. Stop bogging us down with technical mumbo-jumbo! Set up an email system that alerts us when changes have been made in CUNY Portal. Set up a single site where we can find everything we need.

One website. One username. One password. CUNY Portal has potential, just get rid of all the confusing sites around it. Then, maybe, we could take one step closer to a productive and stress-free Hunter experience.