Touring campuses in three dimensions … from your living room

Interviews with prospective college students during CollegeBird focus group sections revealed that college web sites are students’ primary source of information about the campus, Davis said.

Many students, he said, were impressed with schools that had 3D Google Maps-based campus tours, making the college seem more technologically progressive than peer institutions.

“It made the school seem more advanced [if] they were using this technology,” Davis said. “It’s more interactive, and that’s what most [students] have been looking for.”

Northeastern has used CampusBird’s technology to guide prospective students through the school’s international reach.

Under the “global presence” tab on the university’s 3D tour web page, visitors can click on a country—India, for example—and see that Northeastern undergraduate students are working with several companies throughout the country.

“You can zoom in and see what Northeastern students are doing in different countries,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to fly over the country.”

CampusBird’s 3D modeling is among a host of virtual options for campus tours for students who can’t make it to a physical campus.

American University’s virtual tour of its Washington, D.C., campus includes dozens of online videos in which faculty, staff, and students trumpet American’s educational and recreational highlights.

The university’s virtual tour—a $90,000 undertaking—is the centerpiece of a web site redesign that was launched March 30 after two years of development by more than 100 IT experts, including David Swartz, American’s chief information officer.

“Your web presence allows [students] to narrow their options,” Swartz said. “If they can get a sense of your people, your courses, your environment, it’s a very compelling way to narrow your choices.”

Realview TV, an Atlanta-based company that produces custom web video for colleges and universities, worked with IT officials to create American University’s state-of-the-art virtual tour.