portal tricks and tips

This webpage was written to accompany the De Anza staff development FHDA Portal Basics for Faculty class taught by Jose Rueda.

You should remember that every student’s privacy is a major concern. The phone number listed for each student at your class lists at the Portal might not be their private cell phone number, it might be a family home phone number. If you use email to contact them you are much more likely to get that student, not a parent/guardian/sibling. Imagine how uncomfortable you are going to be if you call the phone number and get a parent. You try to leave a message for the student to call you and the parent becomes concerned that something is wrong. You will need to explain that you can’t discuss anything about the student with the parent and the conversation dissolves from there. Using email is much more likely to be hassle free.

This webpage details ideas brainstormed by De Anza College faculty

to use portal features and email to increase enrollment/retention

and make life easier for students.

thin line of various colors of rocks

Students are often still deciding which classes they will attend until the first day of class. I send a welcome to the class email just before the quarter starts with, for example,

the news that they don’t have to own the text by the first day of class, but if they do they would benefit from having read pages etc. through etc.


we will be in the pool the first class, so bring your swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, (optional) swim cap.

line of bright yellow bubbles

I also send answers to typical frequently asked questions about the class and sometimes a link to my faculty website page for that class or to an especially interesting online assignment from the class.

To find a link to a campus map to send in your welcoming email, go to: https://www.deanza.edu/maps-and-tours/  and paste the URL into the email.


I use this description for the HLTH57A Red Cross First Aid certification class:

To find the classroom, S56, go to:


Look for the S5 building. S56 is in the bottom left hand corner of the S5 building.

Or look at the map with room numbers of buildings at:



I use this description for swim classes:

Find the pools (the light blue square and rectangle) in about the center of this campus map:


and I made a webpage with even more photos / maps: How to find the De Anza College swimming pools


If your classroom is off campus, please be assured that some of your students did not notice that when they signed up. They might not have a clue what BRNSWK or HTCTU means as a class location.

If your first Saturday class session is on a Flea Market Saturday, you could send a warning about parking/traffic congestion with the note that parking in Lot C and/or the Stelling Parking structure is a mistake and a note that there will be parking attendants asking for extra money to park, but if the students have purchased a quarter-long permit and tell them they are there for a class, they will let them in without paying. You could include a link such as: Info on how to get a parking permit is at: http://www.deanza.fhda.edu/parking

OR during quarters when there is no parking fee:

When these classes are held on a weekend, please note, each first Saturday of the month there is a flea market at De Anza, (unless it is totally rained out), taking up a lot of parking space. IF the campus is charging for parking and issuing parking permits, there will be parking attendants asking for ten dollars to park, but if you have purchased a quarter-long permit and tell them you are there for a swim class, they should let you in without paying extra. DO NOT try to park in the lot on the east (Stelling road) side of the campus, there is almost always much more room, and less hassle if you park in lot E, on the other side of the PE quad. Find Lot E at: http://www.deanza.edu/maps-and-tours/documents/campusmap_20180413.pdf OR try the Flint Center parking garage, at the Stevens Creek and Highway 85 corner of the campus, as even the top floor has space most Flea Market days. You will need to plan time for the walk from there, but that could be faster than driving around and around looking for a parking space.

a narrow band of sunset clouds

Save a tree … and save on printing costs. Email your greensheet (course syllabus) to students instead of printing it!


At a campus division meeting it was noted that
students who are “emailed or interacted with at least twice” are more likely to stay enrolled.


Some student email addresses listed at the portal are out of service, so having sent that welcome email, on the first day of class I tell people that if they did not get an email from me they might need to check their quarantine, check email more often or give the college a new email address.

Sometime when emails get bounced back to you you can figure out why and attempt to re-email the student. Look for typical typos, such as JamesSmith@yaho.com

a narrow band of sunset reflected on the water

At the My Class List portal page you can look at enrollment before the quarter starts. At my lifeguard class list I noticed a student who was dropped for non-payment of fees and in an effort to increase enrollment I sent him this email:

“This email is from the instructor for lifeguard training at De Anza College.

The college told me you were enrolled in the lifeguard training class, but were dropped for not paying your fees on time.

You don’t have to pay for all your classes/fees at once. De Anza has an installment payment plan that allows you to defer most of your payments.

Go to: http://deanza.edu/cashier/installment_plan.html

More students qualify for financial aid than use it or even know they qualify. There are enrollment fee waivers you can apply for online which take about a week to get an answer. For all the details go to:

. . .”


Since you can see the waitlist for next quarter’s classes, you can decide shortly before the first class day to send an email to at least the first few people on the waitlist encouraging them to attend.


When you get an email from a student with a question that can’t wait until class starts, you may well have others with the same question who are not emailing you to ask, so a group email could be appropriate.

dark and light blue pool water ripples

To promote a class you can send an email to previous students who might be interested in it by accessing previous quarter’s email lists at the Portal. For example, you regularly teach History Basics, but have a new class on the History of Surfing in Southern California 1950 to 1970. This new class might not be a big seller. But you can email a description to previous students before registration starts. Note that at the Portal at Select a Term you can go back to 2010. You can choose to email only previously enrolled (not waitlisted or dropped) students and choose to only email satisfied customers who received a good grade.

Since most beginning swim classes at De Anza are held in deep water, not all novice swimmers (KNES 001A (formerly P.E. 26A), the adult non-swimmers or just-not-comfortable-in-deep-water class) can move on to beginning swimming (KNES 001B (formerly P.E. 26B) ) at the end of only one quarter. When I have a shallow water beginning swim class I always email all the recent previous novice students an invitation, and my enrollment increases as a result.

pool lane line and waterpolo ball

Your De Anza website presence, can make you and what you teach more visible to students, and possibly help fill your classes, is easily set up by going to


Technology training, including Omni Update for your new website, or a refresher of Omni Update training you already took, or . . .


water rippling

FREE TEXTBOOKS are a great way to help out students and great advertising for your class.

“Our faculty and staff have made an amazing effort to lower textbook costs . . .

De Anza students will save over $2.5 million per year in textbook costs by using OER”
(Open Educational Resources = free textbooks.)

– – – Some instructors use online reading at various individual sources instead of or in addition to textbooks.

Where to to find free textbooks?

The bookstore has a page of free textbook downloads for students.


As of Winter quarter 2023, these De Anza College classes had some or all free textbooks:

ADMJ/ICS 29, ANTH 1, ASTR 4/10, BIOL 10, BUS 10, BUS 56, BUS 87, CHEM 1A/B/C , C D 56, CIS 33A, CIS 40/41A, CIS 64F, COMM 1/10, COMM 7 & 10, COMM 10, COMM 70, ECON 1, ECON 2, ELIT 8, ELIT 10, ELIT 17, ELIT 46C, ESCI 1, E S ½, ESL 252, EWRT 1A, EWRT 1A & 2, EWRT 1B, EWRT 2, EWRT 200, EWRT 211, GEO 10, HIST 3C, HIST 17A/B/C, HLTH 57A, HUMI 7 , JOUR 80, MATH 10, MATH 11, MATH 22, MATH 44, MATH 114, MATH 210, MATH 212, PARA 96A, PHIL 1, PHIL 20B, PSYC 1, READ 200, READ 211

Find more open educational resources (OERs) at: https://openstax.org/subjects

AND: California Open Online Library for Education (COOL4Ed)

and over 50,000 free, open source eBooks https://www.gutenberg.org/

– – – The most often downloaded (free) books at Project Gutenberg, (again, that you could offer students instead of having them pay for them), are Pride and Prejudice, Beowulf, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Metamorphosis (Kafka), and others by Charles Darwin, Shakespeare, Kant, James Joyce, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Bronte, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Homer, Jack London, Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain . . .

some are in Chinese, Spanish, French, German . . .

All this could also give you the opportunity to have students read just part of a book,
without De Anza having to pay to copy pages and again, without students having to pay for yet another text.

If you decide to use free textbooks take a look at


to get a green icon a green circle with a $0 in it, the icon for free textbooks

next to the listing for your class in the schedule of classes (see icon at the right below).

line of text with free textbook icon at end

line of text with free textbook icon at end

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you don’t have a free download you can send a students a link to the bookstore, especially if you want them to have completed reading before the first day of class. Or you can tell them about how to access the copies of the text that you have at the library.

gold white and purple lights on water

Most of our syllabi can also be read in advance of taking a class by potential students.
Your syllabus can include sales pitches for why someone would choose your class.

In the process of rewriting a model syllabus for the De Anza College Academic Senate I worked with colleagues, the Faculty Association, and Disability Support Services. In the process I read more than a hundred syllabi. Examples from many of them are at the syllabus examples webpage which includes:

1. Basic Information
2. Goals for Students in the Course
3. Grading Criteria
4. Academic Integrity (Three alternate approaches)
5. Disruptive Behavior
6. Extra Help and Support
7. Late Assignments
8. Schedule of Topics, Coursework and Exams
9. Final Exam and Other Important Dates
10. Class policies / Homework
11. Class policies / Exams
12. Class policies / Cell Phones
13. Other Potential Class Policies
14. Syllabus is subject to change
15. Health and Safety
Notes from other colleges, including SJSU, SFSU, UCLA, Yale and UCSD.

clouds of various colors

The Baldwin part-time faculty office space, with a copier, large fridge/freezer, sink, microwave, dining tables, 30 spacious cubicles, (some with computers and phones, all with comfy height-adjustable chairs), two other more private meeting rooms, and more.

I made a webpage with lots of photos.

Please do not contact me if you want an assigned space, talk to your dean or department chair about how to do it.

desks, chairs, low walls

line of blue bubbles

In an effort to not have the banner photo of people at the library at the top of each of my (at the De Anza college website) faculty webpages, I created a dozen banner photos that anyone with a faculty (or division or . . .) De Anza website can use.

Take a peek at some of them:

http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/hlth57a/index.html has blue sky with puffy white clouds

http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/firstaidcprandaedtraining/index.html has blue sky with slightly different puffy white clouds

A number of faculty have used the clouds.

http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/donateblood/index.html has clouds and a rainbow

http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/registertovote/index.html has stars and stripes from the US flag

https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/deanzacollegefaqs/index.html has a on-campus flowerbed you might recognize from the parking lot side of the Registration and Student Services Building

http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/siteindex/index.html has blue, green and red/pink lights

https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/lifeguardtraining/index.html has slightly different blue, green and red/pink lights

http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/grandtetonnationalpark/index.html has clouds and the tops of Grand Teton National Park peaks (or on some devices, the top of only one peak).

https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/knes001a/index.html has a pool lane line and waterpolo ball

https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/knes1b/index.html has multiple De Anza swimming pool lane lines and swimmers.

https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/knes1c/index.html has different multiple De Anza swimming pool lane lines and swimmers

https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/donahuemary/outdoorclub/index.html has De Anza College Outdoor Club kayakers

To use one of the above listed banner photos at your De Anza College faculty website, login at the bottom right hand corner of your faculty website, go to the index of the page you want the photo at, click on the orange with white lettering MULTI-EDIT button near the top center of the page, then go about clearing the current banner photo, (save, etc., etc.) and then click on the images icon and get the one you want (almost all of my photos are filed under the name Donahue, example: “Donahue clouds over De Anza.jpg”) .

If it has been awhile since you last worked on your webpage and this brief review of how-to-do-it is not enough to help you, please go to


and sign up for any of the all skill levels lessons to get a full lesson,

or if you remember most of how to do it, go to one of the Open Lab Sessions.

(A few of the potential banner photos are shown below. Please don’t try to use the banner photos shown below, they are only 500 pixels wide. You need to make your own at 1200 pixels wide, or see above to use 1200 pixel sized ones of mine.)

section of US Flag stars and stripes

blue sky and puffy white clouds

row of kayakers in front of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

(Yes, faculty can also come on De Anza Outdoor Club kayaking lessons.)