School creates student narrated virtual tour of campuses

Abigail Salzhauer

Recently the school launched a new student-narrated online virtual tour featuring a variety of 360° pictures of the main campus, Lower Division, Nursery Division, and Dorr and graphics of what the new buildings will look like.
Current and former student ambassadors Cameron Chavers (12), Govind Menon (12), Marissa Parks ‘17, Merrick Gilston ‘17, and Karen Jiang ’17, act as the five virtual tour guides, Director of Institutional Research & Enrollment Management Lisa Moreira, who helped spearhead the creation of the tour, said.
Last fall, the school began working with YouVisit, the company who produced the tour and website, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly said.
“I fell in love with Columbia University’s use of YouVisit and, in particular, the student narrated tours and the ability to showcase the tour in multiple languages,” Kelly said.
The virtual tour is offered in American Sign Language, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish, and led by professional actors from the company rather than students. The “guides” appear as a video at the bottom of the screen while taking the tour.
When the school began working on the tour, Kelly reached out to the student ambassadors due to their experience giving tours, Jiang said. On the Friday after last year’s graduation, all the student ambassadors guiding the tour recorded their sections for the virtual tour, Jiang said.
While the group of students chosen to give the virtual tour was diverse, the majority of them were somehow involved in acting or public speaking, Chavers said.
“The pulling together of the tour specific scripts, locations, and supplemental photos wasn’t easy, but well worth the effort when you see the final product,” Kelly said.
The tour is useful and important for students who cannot visit the school to tour but are still interested in applying, Menon said. “I know that having come to Horace Mann from a school in the Middle East, such a tool would have been extremely helpful in determining whether or not Horace Mann was the right choice for me,” Menon said.
The tour includes a virtual reality setting that can be used with the website. Both Moreira and Kelly were incredibly satisfied with the final results of the virtual tour and their experiences with YouVisit.
“We look forward to bringing the folks from YouVisit back to campus next fall to update the tour with the new facilities,” Moreira said.