University Business September 2017 - 49
monplace in higher ed, using the technology for recruitment and other communication positions institutions as
forward-thinking and innovative.
Engage prospective students
Temple University in Philadelphia has
been using a superhero adventure type
of touch point for prospective students
to get to know the institution, says Francesca Reynolds, director of marketing.
Called the Temple Adventure, the virtual
reality experience offers a fast-moving firstperson perspective to show how beautiful
the campus is. "You're zipping in and out
through campus, and trying to find a treasure," she says.
At events such as a Comic-Con comic
book and pop culture festival, Temple
has had a booth where students and their
families can hear about the benefits of enrolling at the university and then see the
"Our audiences are 15- to 17-yearolds. They're into technology, they're into
reading blogs, and reading, and video
blogging. So that's how we're pushing out
our messaging, as an institution," Reynolds says. "This VR is part of a year's worth
of research and strategy that we're using
to get the message out to our audiences,
meeting them where they are already."
To draw even more attention to the
university via the video, Temple has
bought digital advertising. Admissions
counselors have also used it on the road,
even internationally-including in Dubai,
India, Korea, Taiwan, the U.K. and most
of Southeast Asia.
Similarly, UC Berkeley launched its VR
tours at Caltopia, an annual two-day campus festival attended by more than 35,000
students, prospective students, faculty,
alumni and community supporters.
At the event, visitors who were interested in the VR tours received free Google
Cardboard viewers so they could experience the tours on their smartphones. That
way, "they could take the experience back
home," Robles says. "They can show it to
their brothers, sisters, parents or kids, and
share how it feels to be here."
Jin, the Lucid CEO and Berkeley alum,
believes such experiences may make Berkeley seem like a realistic option for potential
students who may have otherwise considered the college an unrealistic dream.
"Showing someone that 'you can be part of
this' gives hope and may encourage them
to actually give it a try," Jin says.
Inform and excite stakeholders
Rutgers University and Providence College are among a few U.S. higher ed institutions that have experienced the power
of VR to fuel capital improvement projects. Both schools hired the S/L/A/M
Collaborative (SLAM), a U.S.-based architecture and engineering firm, to design
new campus projects.
Alternative realities defined
Augmented Reality: Digital content overlaid on a real-world environment. A person
can see their physical surroundings and computer-generated images. The popular
game Pokémon Go is an example of augmented reality.
Virtual Reality: Immersion in a digitally created, simulated environment. A person
can no longer see physical surroundings, and instead sees and experiences images,
sounds and, in some cases, tactile sensations generated by a computer. The Oculus
Rift and HTC Vive are two virtual reality systems.
Mixed Reality: A merging of real and virtual worlds. A person sees their physical environment, as well as 3D digital objects that are anchored to points in the physical
world. Microsoft Hololens is an example of a mixed reality system.
SLAM created 360-degree VR architectural renderings of Rutgers' new Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering and shared
them with students, faculty and donors-
including 87-year-old Richard Weeks-
via the IRIS VR app and SLAM- and
Rutgers-branded viewers at a May 2016
With the technology, attendees were
able "see" a building that doesn't yet exist.
"The building entry has a big cantilever
edge that comes out over a plaza," says Ryan
Deane, SLAM landscape architect. "It was
pretty neat to see Mr. Weeks experience
that. He took a step back and laughed."
Virtual viewings can help assure donors
their money is being well-spent. Providence
College, in fact, exceeded the financial
goal of its most recent capital campaign.
The college was aiming for $140 million
in donations to support student scholarships, academic program enhancements
and capital improvements, including two
new academic buildings and upgrades to
athletic facilities; they raised more than
Sweeney, the CFO, says involving
stakeholders throughout the capital improvement process was key. The college
posted animated videos of proposed facility project changes on its website, as
well as photographs and webcam footage.
Virtual renderings helped project managers make decisions regarding proper lighting of a 33-foot flame sculpture, appropriate bench placement and other design
"We were able to let all the project
stakeholders walk around and experience
it and see what they're going to get," says
Deane. "When you're looking at $1 million in stainless steel, you don't want to invest that kind of money and then not have
it be exactly what you thought."
Jennifer L.W. Fink is a Wisconsin-based writer.
Providers on why colleges
should invest in augmented
and virtual reality
September 2017 | 49
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business September 2017
University Business September 2017 - Intro LOC
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