Prospective student tours enhanced with iPads

Bradley recently added a new edge to the classic campus tour, creating an even more interactive experience for potential students.

The admissions department has introduced iPads for select tours to use by the Student Admission Representatives and prospective students during tours.

The iPad uses an app that allows prospective students and their parents to watch short videos during the tours, creating a new visual experience. The guide has a pilot iPad and controls when the videos play from their device.

The app will show prospective students what campus is really like on a normal day. Many times, tours are held in the summer or on a Saturday morning. The campus is normally deserted at these times, making for a fairly unrealistic tour.

With the app, visitors can see campus happenings, everything from a musical at the Hartmann Center to a Bradley basketball game in short videos.

Junior public relations major and Bradley STAR Camille Ivy-O’Donnell said she hasn’t had the chance to use the iPad in a tour yet.

“There are so many cool things that visitors don’t normally get to see on a regular tour,” she said. “This gives them something else to look at besides just buildings on campus. I think this will really add something to the tours for visual learners.”

Executive Director of Enrollment Management Tom Richmond said the program is still in the pilot testing phase, but will eventually be available to all guides.

“All of our STARs are able to give great tours without the iPad,” Richmond said. “This is just an enhancement.”

The app was created by interactive media major Eric Johnsen. He was enlisted by Jim Ferolo, who had been talking about creating something like this with the university’s marketing department for more than a year. Johnsen spent the summer creating the app, but the project was kept under wraps to avoid other universities copying the idea.

The project was recently covered in the Chronicle of Higher Educations’ Wired Campus blog. When the article hit the Internet, the secret was out.

“A parent told me she took an iPad tour at Marquette and that’s the only thing close to thing that I’ve heard of,” Richmond said. “She said she was just wandering around their campus with only audio to direct here and no interactive experience.”

When students receive the tour iPad, they will have the option to check what majors they are interested in and fill in their name and hometown. The data is then sent to the pilot iPad, held by the STAR. This will allow guides to structure the tour based on the interests of the students in their group and tailor the experience to the individual.

Richmond was adamant that the new technology would never replace the value of human interaction on a tour.

“What’s really great about being able to show a minute long video is that it frees up time for the guide to tell stories,” Richmond said. “It’s the stories that potential students are interested in. They want to hear about the real Bradley experience more than the history of the buildings.”