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Text Preview Libri, 2003, vol. 53, pp. 118–129 Printed in Germany · All rights reserved

______________________________________________

Copyright  Saur 2003 Libri ISSN 0024-2667

Design and Development of an Academic Portal
Academic Information Service, University of Pretoria, South Africa

HEILA PIENAAR

A Web portal can be defined as a Web site for a specific audience that aggregates an array of content and provides a variety of services including search engines, directories, news, e-mail and chat rooms. This article investigates the factors that must be considered during the design and de-

velopment of an academic portal. Personal interviews were conducted with academics in order to identify the content, functions, appearance and value of an academic portal. A working academic portal, the Infoportal, was developed to support academics’ task performance.

Introduction
The introduction of the portal concept to the Web has opened new possibilities to address some of the issues concerning the personal management of academic information and knowledge. Some of the main issues are the lack of integration, personalisation and customisation of existing academic information sources and systems. A Web portal can be defined as a Web site that aggregates an array of content and provides a variety of services including search engines, directories, news, e-mail and chat rooms. Portals have evolved to provide a customised gateway to Web information. A high level of personalisation and customisation is possible (Melzer 1999; Boye 1999). It was felt that the portal concept could be further developed to function as a sophisticated Web interface that can support the task performance (teaching and research) of academics.

• What can be seen as the personal management of academic knowledge and information? What is the impact of the Internet on the scientific knowledge cycle? • To what extent can the concept and functionality of Web portals support the personal management of knowledge and information of academics? • What information sources, services and tools must be part of such a portal? • How acceptable is the idea of such a Web portal for academics and what problems do they anticipate with regard to the implementation of the portal? • Do the needs of academics who are research achievers, differ from the needs of those regarded as education achievers? • What are the implications of this study for the design and development of a Web portal for academics and can guidelines be developed for the design and development of such a portal? Can an academic portal be successfully developed and implemented?

Theoretical background
Personal knowledge management
The scientific knowledge cycle consists of the following sectors: a user sector (literature survey, assimilation and formulation of hypotheses), a generation sector (experimental test and development of new theory), a communication sector

Statement of the problem
The central research problem is to ascertain what factors should be taken into account during the design and development of a Web portal for academics. The central research problem can be further addressed by asking the following questions:

Dr Heila Pienaar is strategic innovation manager at the Academic Information Service, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa. E-mail: [email protected]; URL: http://hagar.up.ac.za/catts/learner/heilap/personalhomepage.html

118

Design and Development of an Academic Portal (oral reports at meetings, writing of reports and papers, primary, secondary and tertiary publication) and a storage sector (acquisition and processing for retrieval, world’s storage of knowledge in libraries, archives etc.). The academic can be seen as both the user en producer of scientific information (Blom 1980). The possible influence of the Internet on the cycle of scientific knowledge can be illustrated as follows (see Table 1): Table 1: Possible influence of the Internet on the... Show More

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