The University of Wisconsin-Platteville and its branch campuses, Baraboo Sauk County and Richland, are now offering full virtual tours featuring interactive video elements, messages from faculty and students, and 360-degree photos of the institutions and their respective communities. The virtual campus tours were created through a collaboration between the UW-Platteville admission and marketing departments and EAB YouVisit.
“This is a terrific way for prospective students who can’t get to our branch campuses for a tour to see our facilities, make a connection on campus, and learn more about what’s available right here in the area,” said John Christensen, Communications Manager for both branch campuses of UW-Platteville.
“We knew we wanted to develop this tool and COVID-19 sped up the process,” said Megan Hinderman, content strategist for UW-Platteville’s Marketing and Communications Department. “With people not necessarily feeling safe traveling and having to limit some of our visit opportunities, we still wanted people to connect to campus and learn more about it.”
Erin Withrow, who is the enrollment communications specialist for Enrollment and Student Success, acknowledges UW-Platteville is always trying to find innovative ways to interact with students.
“It gives those students who aren’t able to make it to campus the opportunity to get to know what we have to offer in a different light. They can pick and choose through their campus experience while they visit,” Withrow said. “They are able to select exactly what they are looking for, and it lets them personalize their experience in a way that they don’t get to do in a regular face-to-face tour.”
The development of the tours happened in two phases. The first phase, according to Hinderman, was working with the admission team to identify the areas to highlight around campus and capture those locations. The 20 stops include portions of campus like the Material Fabrication and Nano Characterization Lab, Pioneer Farm, the Forensic Investigation Crime Scene House and the Center for the Arts. The second phase was incorporating the footage.
“EAB YouVisit sent a film crew to campus the week of October 20, and for four days we were all over campus filming, getting photos and visiting the branch campuses,” said Hinderman.
“We show different avenues that play off each other really well from our in-person visits to the YouVisit,” added Withrow. “It’s an extension of what we already are doing. It can be the reference point for those current students to share with their families.”
Viewers are welcomed to the branch campuses by Chancellor Dennis J. Shields, and then can explore each campus’ buildings and grounds, learning more about the people and places who are available to help them throughout their time as a branch campus student.
“It’s really powerful,” said Hinderman. “If you can’t have that face-to-face conversation, being able to have that access and hearing from a person makes it feel a lot more personable. You get a better idea of what your experience might be like on campus.”
Both Hinderman and Withrow hope these virtual tours will be used in different marketing facets across UW-Platteville and the two branch campuses.
“There are great student videos,” said Withrow. “It’s very interactive. [Viewers] can click on a wall and a student starts talking or our provost will come to life in the middle of the student center. It’s beyond just for prospective students – other departments can utilize this across the board. It’s an investment that can be utilized in more than just for recruitment.”
Christensen said the tours should increase access to the branch campuses for prospective students, but also hopes they will be something that give alumni and other friends and supporters who want to celebrate their campus an online view they can share in different ways. “Baraboo Sauk County and Richland have alumni all over the world, and I hope this new 360-degree look gives them a chance to check out the campuses as they are now,” said Christensen.
For more information on all the UW-Platteville virtual tours, visit https://www.uwplatt.edu/visit#virtualtour.