A campus tour by mouse click
Business students make their university a virtual experience
You've got your A-levels, you've found the right course of study, and then the next question comes up: Which university should I apply to? Many prospective students look at the campus and the study conditions directly on site before making a decision. But what if this is not possible? As part of the module "Change Management in Business Studies", a group of students at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences dealt with the question of how to give prospective students a realistic impression of the campus even if they can't visit it themselves. The idea: a virtual tour in which those interested can move through the buildings and across the campus and decide for themselves in which direction they want to go. They were supported in this by cura3D GmbH & Co. KG. The result can now be found at www.hs-bremerhaven.de/university.
Project-oriented work is an integral part of the degree programmes at the Hochschule am Meer. For this purpose, cooperation is sought with companies that can, at best, make further use of the results of the projects. In this case, the university itself was the client. For a long time now, prospective students have had the opportunity to find out about the degree programmes and explore the campus. For those who cannot come to Bremerhaven, there are also digital information services. However, there has not yet been a virtual campus tour. "We want to offer our potential students optimal opportunities to find out about our degree programmes and the study conditions. Of course, this also includes giving them an impression of the place where they want to study. Anyone visiting the campus can see for themselves the short distances between the buildings and discover many beautiful corners on a tour that invite them to linger. We wanted to show this digitally - for all those who are interested but can't come in person," explains Tatjana Lovre, head of marketing at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences.
For the tour, the students relied on a special technology: virtual reality. This is probably better known through its use in computer games rather than as part of business studies. Yet it is also important in this field to have modern technology in mind. "Change management is about initiating comprehensive and far-reaching changes in certain areas of the company. Of course, this has to happen using the latest technology. In the project, the students actually dealt with personnel marketing and the question of how to attract new employees. We applied this to the university and considered what we have to offer prospective students so that they decide to study in Bremerhaven," explains Prof. Dr. Birgit Vock-Wannewitz, who led, accompanied and supported the student project. The project results are also to be incorporated into activities at the International College of King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok. "Half of the project group consisted of exchange students from our Thai partner university. They participate in our double degree programme where they earn degrees from both universities."
To identify the needs of their target group, the students conducted a small, non-representative survey on campus. "The results surprised me a little. Few were interested in what the lecture halls and labs looked like. The campus grounds, the refectory and the food were more important," says Prof. Vock-Wannewitz. The project participants were free to decide which technology they wanted to use. In order to be able to make a choice, they exchanged ideas with computer science students. "The question was whether virtual reality or augmented reality would be more suitable. Since AR requires a lot of programming, the students then decided on VR. This was quicker for them to implement because they hardly have any programming knowledge for these kinds of applications." In order to simulate a tour and not jump from place to place, the project team first had to create a storyboard. "They wanted to create as realistic an experience as possible. If you want to move from one building to another, you also have to walk the whole way and you can't beam. So the students had to anticipate the paths of the interested people. So the storyboard was always adjusted a little bit."
Since there were only 14 weeks left for planning and implementation, additional professional help was needed. "We would like to thank Philip Orschler from cura3D GmbH & Co. KG. for so spontaneously agreeing to assist our students with the technical equipment and know-how," says Prof. Vock-Wannewitz. With the help of a special camera, 360° images of the campus grounds and buildings were taken. For this purpose, the camera was appropriately positioned and triggered. The shots lasted eight minutes each, after which the pictures were "in the can" and could be cut together accordingly. "After the first shots, I was really overwhelmed by the amount of data. I thought these masses of images could never be processed in such a short time. That makes me all the more impressed with what the students have come up with. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it," says Prof. Vock-Wannewitz. "And what I also find particularly important is that we comply with all data protection regulations."
Whether virtually or on site: the campus of Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences is happy to welcome visitors. Anyone interested in studying can also contact the Central Student Advisory Service directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the study mentors for the individual degree programmes are available to answer questions. Further information at www.hs-bremerhaven.de/study.