The technology works like this: The Bradley tour guide has 10 videos on his iPad, and when he loads one during a tour, it triggers the video to play on the iPads carried by the prospective students. When videos aren’t playing, a campus map is displayed on the screen.
There was a connection problem when a Tribune reporter tagged along on a tour, so students could only watch videos on the guide’s iPad.
Still, the students seemed intrigued when they were handed the devices before the tour began. Russell, the guide, told them: “Don’t worry, you can’t screw anything up.”
“The tour I am going to give you is a walk around campus. You can see the map on your iPad,” Russell said. Future plans include incorporating GPS tracking so students can see where they are while on the tour.
Outside Olin Hall, the science building, Russell showed a video of students looking into microscopes and working with test tubes. The female narrator told them: “Here, undergraduate students are advancing cancer and Parkinson’s disease research. Their efforts are drawing international attention.”
And while standing in the middle of an unoccupied dorm room, Russell pulled up a video promoting dorm life. “Some rooms even feature walk-in closets,” the video pronounced.
The iPads won’t replace the student guides, who are constantly peppered with questions from students and their parents during the hourlong walk: “Are there community showers” in the dorms? “What’s the meal plan?” “What size TV do you recommend bringing?” “Are there any large lecture halls?”
Jim Ferolo, chairman of Bradley’s interactive media program, said watching a video while on campus is different from watching it on a computer screen or television at home. It also provides a different experience than watching a campus’ virtual tour on YouTube, he argued.
“By having the videos play within the place, it is a time slip. You are physically there … and showing the space as it is intended to be used,” Ferolo said. “These tours become more relevant than a DVD that admissions sends out because they are juxtaposed against the space.”