Schools using digital media to snag prospective students

Schools are using digital media to attract potential students.

Hoping to attract prospective students, colleges and universities are turning to new and innovative ways to engage potential freshmen in course catalogs and information about campus social life. Using digital media such as augmented reality and quick response (QR) codes, some schools are breathing new life into tired catalogs and dry literature.

High school students graduating in 2013 are used to instant gratification and multi-tasking with different devices and technologies. Indeed, many experts note that high schools and college campuses are no longer one-to-one environments, but are often three-to-one environments because students own more than one mobile, internet-ready device.

Some campus officials wonder if today’s students are more attracted to interactive catalogs with embedded videos and other interactive elements.

Academy of Art University, a private art and design university, is not only betting on it—it is investing in it. Having teamed with Aurasma, an augmented reality platform, Academy of Art University (AAU) has launched an interactive digital college catalog that offers prospective students an in-depth look into the university’s 19 fields of study.

Augmented reality uses GPS and compass features, such as those found on smart phones running Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iPhone, to access high-speed wireless networks that mash up local web content with the user’s surroundings. Augmented reality often overlays images onto a user’s screen.

Intersections, AAU’s catalog, comes to life when users point their iPhone, iPad, or Android device at displayed images. Intersections contains 50 “auras”—interactive content such as animations and videos.

“We wanted to help prospective students feel more engaged by offering them rich content beyond the printed page,” said Vince Engel, co-director of AAU’s School of Advertising. “It brings the university’s story to life while showcasing current and former students’ work. We want potential students to look at this book and say, ‘Wow—maybe one day I can make something as cool as that!’”

So far, 500,000 copies of Intersections have been shipped to prospective students in a massive distribution effort.