New MCI Web site hits ground running

22 Oct 2008 | Cpl. Chris Dobbs

       It is bright Marine Corps red and blue, includes a slideshow of images from around the fleet and boasts a rolling news section. And that’s just the front page.

       One or two more clicks away, Marines can find even more new functions on the Marine Corps Institute’s brand new Web site, www.mci.usmc.mil, launched Oct. 22 to help Marines worldwide enhance their MOS proficiency and further their military education.

       The update is the first in several years and was needed to give the site a cutting-edge appearance and features, along with making it more user-friendly, according to Capt. Robert Murphy, MCI deputy command information officer.

       The introduction of the site comes after a six-month effort to rebuild it based on feedback from the Fleet Marine Force.

       “We hired a couple of contractors and building the site was their life for those six months,” Murphy said. “We’re happy with what they’ve done and hope the Marines are as well.”

Revamping the site’s out-of-date, plain style and improving its limited elements were the most pressing concerns, Murphy added. The new design was chosen based on a survey taken by Marines who voted on one of seven prototypes.

“The site’s look was obviously out of date, and we thought it was important for the Marines – the ones who are going to be using the site the most – to be involved in the redesign process,” Murphy said.

Among the site’s new features are a secure log-in function featuring a CAC interface and a message system which allows MCI and students to communicate with one another. New also is the “student dashboard,” the hub of student-to-MCI connection. Through the dashboard, Marines have access to virtually all of the information and options they need to continue their education, including course enrollment and material downloads along with access to diplomas and transcripts. Marines can also personalize the dashboard to suit their needs and preferences.

“It really gives the user much more control over the information they have at their fingertips,” said Riia Hanson, MCI director of web and data services.

Another useful component of the site is an advanced-order feature where Marines can pre-order up to 10 MCIs. While Marines may still only be enrolled in up to three courses at a time, the new system allows material for the next course on the Marines’ list to be automatically shipped upon completion of an enrolled course.

“That was one of the features Marines were asking for,” Hanson said. “Some of them were having a hard time ordering materials when they were deployed. This allows them to make one stop at the site, determine the courses they want to take and not have to worry about reordering.”

Based on responses from the fleet, the new site is a hit with Marines.

“So far, we’ve had all positive feedback -- everyone said they really like the new site and features,” Hanson added.

MCI looks to continue enhancing the site in the future, including adding a course shipment tracking feature.

“We’re not going to be able to please everyone, but we think this is a step in the right direction,” Hanson said.

        While the new site doesn’t complete MCIs for Marines, it hopefully will make the process of ordering and finishing them more convenient and, in some cases, even more enjoyable.