A new combined Portal and VLE service

The merged service, called Minerva launched as planned on 27 July.

Minerva delivers a merged Portal and VLE, providing the same essential functionality - the student and postgraduate researcher "way in to everything". Minerva has a more modern design and will work better on mobile devices.

Modules areas are accessed through a different interface, but the modules themselves haven't changed from how they were in the old VLE. Students and staff see a list of their modules in a similar way to the old Portal.

Other student-facing systems (such as Office365 email, Student Services, Timetabling, Careers etc) are also accessed via Minerva. An associated Single Sign On Project will enable users to automatically log in to different systems without the need to log in again. This functionality is being implemented in stages, so initially users may be required to provide log in details several times to access different systems.

Amendments are needed to any student-facing documentation which explains how to complete tasks via the old Portal or VLE, such as accessing modules, registration or checking their Library record. 

Note that there is no longer be a Graduate Portal - graduates should be directed to the Alumni website at https://alumni.leeds.ac.uk/  Also the MAPS Applicant Portal will cease in October 2017. 

For a quick introduction to Minerva, view a short video.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is the Portal Project going?

Minerva launched as planned 27 July. 

2. What will happen about any functionality that cannot be provided by the launch date?

A further stage of the Portal Project over the summer will deliver some additional functionality.  See details of upcoming improvements. Other suggestions are being collated into a Roadmap for potential development over the life of the new service.  Such developments are likely to be done on a gradual basis as resources allow.

3. What will the new service be called?

It is called 'Minerva: the new Portal and VLE'.  This name was chosen by the Project Board after a student survey and consultation with Leeds University Union. 

4. What will the web address be, and what will happen to existing links to the current Portal and VLE?

The web address for the new service is minerva.leeds.ac.uk.  Current web addresses (portal.leeds.ac.uk  and leedsportal.leeds.ac.uk  and vlebb.leeds.ac.uk) redirect to the new service. 

5. What tabs will Minerva have and what will be on them?

There are three tabs:  Home, Learn and Discover.

  • The Home tab shows announcements (a combination of module announcements, personalised announcements depending on your role and general university announcements), news and tweets.
  • The Learn tab (students) or Teach tab (staff) has your modules/organisations list (including links to module areas, reading lists, past exam papers), Library and IT content, and links to Leeds for Life or Grad.
  • The Discover tab has useful links and a keyword search. Many links on other tabs in the current Portal will be located on the Discover tab in Minerva, arranged under the headings 'Your course', 'Wellbeing, Safety and Health','Academic Support', 'Opportunities', 'Leeds University Union' and 'Sport'.

There is also a toolbar in the top right with a series of icons which give access to frequently used services such as email.

Please also look at the introductory guides for staff and students.

6. How will new students register and access other areas of Student Services?

This is done via Minerva. The toolbar in the top right of Minerva has an icon called 'Access Student Services'.  Clicking this icon takes students to the home page of Student Services, and they can follow the menus on that site to access Registration, Module Enrolment, changing their Personal Information etc. The University 'Your Arrival' documents sent to new students have been amended to take account of the changes. There will also be a prominent news tile for Registration at the beginning of the year.

For staff, the same icon takes them to Faculty Services and is called 'Access Faculty Services'.

7. How will recent graduates access university services when there is no Graduate Portal?

New graduates retain their student accounts after the end of their course for 60 days (undergraduates) or 90 days (postgraduates).  After 27 July and during this period new graduates will have access to Minerva.  After that point, the Alumni website will provide appropriate information and links.

8. How will staff provide news and announcements to students?

Minerva can send announcements and emails using current VLE functionality. Staff who used the old Portal for student communications were asked to provide details of their needs, including which groups they want to be able to send messages to. The groups already requested should be available now. If you haven't already sent details of the groups you need, please email them (including the dates when the groups are needed for) to itservicedesk@leeds.ac.uk.

News items in Minerva are different to the old Portal. The design and image options are different, and the number of news 'tiles' is limited, so they need to be carefully managed, with a focus on events, services and initiatives with strategic importance to the University. 

If you need to communicate with students via Minerva, please read the communication channels information and follow the links from there to read the new policy and the procedures you will need to follow.  To request a communication via Minerva please use the form linked from the procedures page.

Any queries should go via itservicedesk@leeds.ac.uk, and the team will get back to you to discuss.

Staff who frequently need to be able to send announcements and emails to specific groups will be offered guidance and training, which is currently under development.

9. How will students and staff access VLE module areas?

The 'Modules/Organisations' feature has been updated in Minerva. It displays a list of all the modules that a user is enrolled on. By default this shows 10 modules from the current academic year. Users can change both the number of entries that display and the year. Links provide access to reading lists and past exam papers.

Module areas that have not been made available display to students, but there is no link and a red cross appears in the 'Availability' column. Once an area is made available, a link will appear and a tick will replace the cross in the 'Availability' column. It is hoped that this behaviour will help to reassure students that their enrolments are as expected and will, therefore, reduce the number of service calls relating to enrolments.

In cases where modules have been merged, students  see the merged module only, unless one or more constituent modules are made available for pedagogical reasons.

10. How will students, postgraduate researchers and staff access existing VLE organisations?

The 'Modules/Organisations' feature in Minerva (as in Q9) has a second tab which will list your organisations.

11. What changes are needed to existing documentation?

Any documentation, for example module handbooks or information for students on websites, needs to be changed to refer to 'Minerva, the new Portal and VLE' instead of referring to Portal or VLE.  If you need help with this, or would like your revised documentation to be checked before publication, please contact the IT Service Desk itservicedesk@leeds.ac.uk, and the team will get back to you.

12. What can Minerva do for Postgraduate Researchers?

Minerva is the "way in to everything" for postgraduate researchers too, giving access to the same things as the old Portal did previously.  This includes email, Library, IT, Student Services and GRAD, together with useful links and news. We hope to develop Minerva further over time with more resources for postgraduate researchers, working with the new Leeds Doctoral College.

13. Will Minerva be accessible using the Blackboard mobile app?

The current VLE mobile app (Mobile Learn) has been discontinued. Minerva module and organisation content will be mobile responsive and can be viewed using a browser on your mobile device.  It is not recommended to use any apps to access Minerva.

14. Will there be any downtime between the old Portal and VLE and the launch of Minerva? 

There was a downtime on the morning of Thursday 27 July 2017 to switch over..

15. Who should students contact if they have problems using or logging on to the new service?

The IT Service Desk provides first line support for Minerva, just as it did for the old Portal and VLE.

16. Who should I contact if I have further questions?

More information, including details of technical architecture etc, is available in this presentation.  If the information on this blog post or on the presentation doesn't cover your query, please contact the IT Service Desk who will route your query to the best place.

  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon