A year ago, our internal Internet system came of age. Although it had served virtually flawlessly during this time, its form needed to be refreshed and modernized. Since the autumn of 2022, intensive work has been carried out by an interdisciplinary team to develop the concept and implement the changes. Today we are putting into the hands of our users the Extranet not only rich in content, but in an attractive form, modernized and enriched with functionalities, that we trust will gain your appreciation.
In the simplest terms, it is a closed computer network designed to make its own resources available to the members of the academic community. It is a treasury of knowledge about legal acts, internal procedures, as well as teaching materials of all faculties and departments. Access to the service is gained by students, doctoral students and employees of our University, who have an e-mail account in the @gumed.edu.pl domain.
The Extranet is supervised by the Communication Unit (email@example.com, tel. 349 18 42) headed by Joanna Śliwińska, Ph.D., spokespersn for the MUG, and technically supported by the university’s IT HelpDesk (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 349 17 05) reporting to Wojciech Kiedrowski, M. Eng., Deputy Chancellor for Digitization and Process Management, while teaching issues are coordinated by the Office for Eduction and Development (email@example.com, tel. 349 11 14), headed by Jarosław Furmański, Ph.D. We bring up this name for a reason − Jarosław Furmański, Ph.D. was the originator and creator of the functional concept of the existing system, whose primary and originally defined task was to streamline the educational organization process. Over time, the role and importance of the Extranet has changed, and it has become one of the primary tools for internal communication. In the last year alone, nearly 2,800 mailings were sent to more than 4 million 100 thousand recipients.
Extranet in numbers (data for 2004-2023)
Friendly and light layout, intuitive navigation, alphabetical ordering of content and clear design − these are obvious changes that the user will notice immediately after logging into the system. Nevertheless, what is important is what remains invisible at first glance, but which improves its functionality.
Every website and mobile application must comply with the international WCAG standard so that it complies with the requirements of the Law of April 4, 2019 on Digital Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Entities. According to them, the website is to be based on 4 principles:
As part of the ongoing work, among other things, icons have been placed at the top of the new Extranet, allowing the text’s font size to be enlarged and the color scheme to be changed to a contrast version, which is more readable for the visually impaired.
In modernizing the Extranet system we wanted it to not lose its usability, but to be more user-friendly. Currently, not only a new user may have difficulty finding his way around the multitude of tabs, information and documents.
In the new version, content has been grouped into thematic tabs reflecting the organizational structure of the MUG and arranged alphabetically. Page maintenance has been improved in terms of the ability to translate posted content into English. The new layout is responsive, which means that the sites automatically adjust to the size of the window.
A widget linking to the university’s Facebook is available on the right-hand side. We did not want to abandon this content, as we know that many of our users have become accustomed to this form of reading, and the graphic interface element used allows for unobtrusive, automatic display of information.
A new feature is the calendar located at the bottom of the page, which we want to co-edit with you. Both the contents of the calendar, as well as the tabs on the right side, referring to Systems, Pages, Files and Manuals, allow the user to individually define those which are his favorites, which he uses most often and would like to have them in the quick access path. The icons of the MUG Systems were designed by the university’s Department of Promotion.
This block is the heart of the site, where the user goes directly after logging in. The information published here, as a rule, is not meant to be a duplication of news from the home page or the MUG social media, but a space for news of an informative nature, affecting the organization of work and the educational process. Until now, they have been distributed as mailings, which could easily be lost or missed in the flood of all sorts of other content. Articles published in the news will also be tailored to specific audiences − employees, students, doctoral students or all users of the system.
During the development of the new Extranet concept, respecting the long-standing work of hundreds of editors of the various tabs, we were keen to ensure that the content published on the pages, along with the attachments, would be automatically transferred to the updated platform, and so it was. The editorial panel has also been visually refreshed, and in addition to leaving the existing functionality in place, improvements expected by editors have been made. Within the separate modules (systems), which are the document database and the search engine for people and entities, their interfaces were adjusted accordingly.
Currently, Extranet is running on the latest versions of system components and a powerful server, which guarantees security, reliability, quality and speed of operation, with the highest standards. With the launch of the new version of the platform, we will begin further development work, which will take several more months. Our plans include the implementation of a multi search engine and integration with the Webcon electronic document workflow system.
The modernization of the Extranet system is also part of the overall work planned and implemented as part of the MUG’s strategy to improve information flow and improve communication tools. So far, we have managed to professionalize the newsletter sent to the media and the MUG’s external partners. Using FreshMail.pl, a state-of-the-art tool for creating and sending newsletters and mailings to our own base, we can build a list of recipients and schedule newsletters in a fully automated manner. The program has many useful features that have significantly optimized our mass mailing communication, as well as streamlined and made more attractive the process of sharing knowledge about the latest achievements of the MUG employees, students and doctoral students with the external environment, which allows us to even more effectively build the authority and brand of the University externally.
Our ambition is that in the coming months the standard and protocols for internal and external communication will be developed and implemented at the Medical University of Gdańsk, as well as to increase the competence of mailing administrators in correct and effective communication, taking into account the principles of netiquette and good academic manners.
To meet the expectations of members of our University’s academic community, we are also currently making changes to mailing systems. In this way, we want to reduce the number of messages sent in mass form, often to recipients who are not always interested in a given topic. Introducing this modification will ultimately allow us to organize the current form of internal communication.
Individual requests received from you regarding current events taking place at the MUG since March this year have been sent in an aggregate message, in the form of a weekly newsletter prepared by the Communication Unit. To facilitate the flow of information, we remind you to address them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Training materials and a series of questions and answers about the new Extranet are available in the knowledge base at https://zgloszenia.gumed.edu.pl/baza-wiedzy.