Inspiration

If you're anything like us, you spend a lot of time clicking through Coursera for your MCIT classes. You probably don't know what your PennID is because you don't have a physical Penn Card. And often times, you're digging through slack or emails to find links that are important for an MCIT Online student.

That's why we've built MCIT Portal - "a lightweight and intuitive Chrome extension for all your MCIT Online needs".

What it does

The MCIT Portal is a Chrome extension that has all the important links for the program in one place.

  • One-stop-shop for MCIT Online navigation, including:
    • Coursera
    • Piazza
    • Slack
    • Administrative
    • ProctorU
  • Dynamic URLs based on your course selection and current course term. You can use this extension from when you begin this program, to until you finish!
  • Store your PennID for easy access

also, MCIT Portal is:

  • Easy to use and lightweight. It doesn't run in the background or take up any memory
  • It installs directly into Chrome, so it's always with you
  • It provides navigation to all your courses as well as important program links such as Handshake and MCIT Handbook
  • It's secure (unlike some other Chrome extensions). It doesn't access your location, passwords, or browsing history, because it doesn't need to.

How I built it

A lot of caffeine and chrome documentation. We've built the front end with HTML and CSS and the back-end with JavaScript and Chrome API's.

Challenges I ran into

Jorge is a consultant by training; and Kelvin comes from a data analysis background. We both ran into these challenges:

  • UI Design : We knew the UI / UX would make or break this project. We spent a lot of time thinking about this and went through several revisions of what the end goal would look like. We learned a lot about placement, fonts, and contrasting colors this way.
  • Learning web development : We both had zero experience with web development. While we both had to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript quickly, we decided early on that Jorge would be responsible for the front-end and Kelvin would be responsible for the back-end. Thankfully, the concepts we've learned in 591 was enough to accomplish this!
  • Chrome API : We both had limited experience working with APIs in general. Additionally, Chrome extensions are very particular with how the HTML / CSS / JavaScript is written. There was a lot of trial and error to get everything working.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

  • We both started the hackathon with zero knowledge in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Now, we can confidently say that we are capable of building basic websites and / or chrome extensions.
  • We genuinely believe this project will be useful for many students, and encourage all of you to use it! We're proud to have created software which is meant to be used, and not just for a hackathon showcase.

What I learned

  • Thoughtful user interface design.
  • Efficient backend code that satisfies Chrome Extension's restrictions on JavaScript codes that can run.
  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript.

What's next for MCIT Portal - a Chrome Extension

  • Collaborative and Open-source : We'll listen to our users and keep this extension running. We'll also add new features based on community feedback, which is built right into the extension.
  • Dark Theme : We understand that many users prefer a dark theme in their Chrome browser. In a future version, we'd like to give our users the choice of a dark-themed MCIT Portal!
  • Chrome Web Store : With the permission of the University of Pennsylvania, we plan to host this extension on the Chrome Web Store. This makes it easy for students to find, and for us to distribute updates.
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