Campus tour now comes with an iPad

Campus maps are included on Bradley's iPads.

When a group of prospective students arrived at Bradley University’s recreation center at 10:30 a.m. one recent morning, the basketball court was empty, the rock climbing wall was unused and the track had just one runner. One of the campus’ top selling points looked pretty unimpressive.

“I do want to show you a lot of things that go on here that aren’t going on now,” tour guide and Bradley sophomore Nathan Russell said to the three students and their parents.

And with that, he held up an iPad to show a 52-second video of the Markin Family Student Recreation Center bustling with activity, with students lined up on cardio machines and filing onto the court for “Late Night BU” activities such as concerts and ice cream socials.

The Peoria university has added iPads to its campus tours, allowing students to see videos of science labs in action and the campus quad filled with Frisbee-flinging students.

About half of the university’s more than 500 tours a year occur during the summer or on weekends when classes aren’t in session, the swimming pool may be closed and the quad is serene.

It is believed to be the first school to use the tablet technology in this way, though students are using iPads in class and some campuses are providing them free to freshmen. Bradley’s admissions office is piloting their use, and has tested them on about 20 of 160 tours during the past two months.

A Bradley interactive media professor proposed the idea, and one of his students developed the application over the summer.