January 29, 2013

Texas A&M Unveils New Virtual Tour Website

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Visitors are greeted with a "Howdy" on the home page of the university's new campus tour website.

Prospective students, their families and other potential campus visitors are now able to tour Texas A&M University’s  vast campus unlike ever before: completely virtually.

The university has launched a first-rate, comprehensive campus tour website (http://campustour.tamu.edu/), bringing the sights and sounds of Aggieland to life with a simple click of the mouse or swipe of a finger.

“Our new campus tour site is a tool that helps us share the Texas A&M story with many different audiences,” says Diane C. McDonald, Texas A&M’s executive director of marketing & social media. “Visitors ranging from prospective students to fans from our Southeastern Conference family can get a feel for who we are and what we are all about.”

Visitors to the site see much more than simply building facades, explains Erick Beck, director of web development in Texas A&M’s Division of Marketing & Communications. The virtual tour site not only takes visitors inside each building with photos and videos, but it also includes links to organized walking tours, self-guided tours, and audio podcasts that can be accessed either at home or while visiting campus and standing in front of the location being described.

“We wanted to stretch the purpose of this site to really show what life at Texas A&M is really like, and that meant showing the campus locations in use with real people and incorporating different elements to capture this accurately,” Beck adds.

With more than 800 buildings on Texas A&M’s sprawling campus, Beck says it was realized early on that the project would be too big for one release cycle. Therefore iconic campus locations, such as the Academic Building, Kyle Field, and the Memorial Student Center, were included in the initial launch, with plans to periodically introduce new locations like residence halls, classrooms and labs, athletic facilities and more.

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Each location page on the campus tour site features photos, events, foursquare tips and more.

The site leverages content from other programs that the university already has online, especially on each of the individual location pages.  Every page features a list of events on the campus calendar that are taking place at that location and links to the campus map so a visitor can see the location in context of the entire campus.

In addition to these features, the individual location pages also integrate foursquare, the location-based social media platform. Each location page features the mayor of the venue (i.e. the foursquare user who has checked in the most at that particular location), as well as user tips. For example, tips from foursquare users on the location page for Sterling C. Evans Library give advice for the best locations to study and reminders on how and where to rent movies.

“This project is a result of collaboration with the extended campus community,” says McDonald. “We have been very pleased with the support we’ve had from all of the campus organizations that have worked with us so far in this endeavor. This collaboration helps us reinforce the feeling of the Aggie family that we’re hoping to convey in the site itself.”

Campus groups and individuals involved in the first phase of the site included Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, the Office of Admissions, Texas A&M University Libraries, the Appelt Aggieland Visitor Center, The Association of Former Students, the Texas A&M Foundation, the Student Recreation Center, Sbisa Dining Hall and the Student Computing Center. Future collaborations on the next round of updates to the site already include the Dwight Look College of Engineering,  the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science, the College of Education & Human Development, Mays Business School, the College of Geosciences, and the College of Architecture, as well as the Department of Residence Life.

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Media contact: Krista Smith, Communications Coordinator, at (979) 845-4645

 

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