MIT Celebrates 100 Years Of Its Cambridge Campus

Stata Center Whitepoint tour screenshot

Screenshot from the Whitepoint tour, “100 Years of the East Side,” featuring the striking architecture of the Stata Center and related points of interest.

What do you think of when you think of MIT?

It may not necessarily be history that comes to mind first. But, there’s quite a bit of it on the Cambridge campus.

In fact, the campus opened one hundred years ago in 1916 when MIT relocated from Boston’s Back Bay.

A Virtual Campus Stroll

A recent Whitepoint scape highlights aspects of the campus’ eastside on the occasion of the Cambridge centennial. From Killian Court and the Walker Memorial to the striking Stata Center, images and rich text content walk virtual tourists through the venerable campus.

What really sets this scape apart is the inclusion of widget links to additional photos hosted on Google as well as Vimeo videos. So, not only do visitors get the colorful textual content, they can access relevant multimedia content to enrich the context and their understanding. There really are some interesting aspects to the MIT story that would otherwise be overlooked.

Another Whitepoint Featured Scape

We congratulate everyone involved in the centennial celebration at MIT and are proud to present “100 Years of the East Side” as a featured Whitepoint scape.

As with any Whitepoint scape, the tour is available to anyone on the free Whitepoint app available for both Android and Apple iOS. Just download and search “MIT.”

And of course any school, community, or historical district can offer a smarter tour for their visitors and virtual tourists too – just visit Whitepoint to learn more.

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Smart Touring and Educational Technology

Whitepoint was recently mentioned as an educational technology tool in an article on TechFaster. After reading it, we were reminded of several educational technology uses for the Whitepoint platform.

Educational Technology Applications for the Whitepoint Framework

All of these potential uses are perfect for authoring by both students and teachers as part of the learning process. The subject of the scapes might often be the focus, but the very process of authoring can be valuable in learning as well: Gathering, editing, and managing content can offer great learning opportunities for team building and project management.

Virtual Tours of Historic Places

As an educational technology, the most obvious application for the Whitepoint framework is in building and sharing virtual tours of historic places. Because the Whitepoint platform allows for more than just a virtual tour, there is ample opportunity to leverage smarter touring to make interactive encounters with historic places more meaningful.

Interactive Maps

Old map as interactive educational technology.

Using the Whitepoint framework as an educational technology can make this map image a much more meaningful interactive teaching tool.

Generating interactive maps is also another educational technology use for Whitepoint.

Like a smart tour of any historic site, students can use maps with rich content – images, text, and links to audio or video – to learn more about different regions and the world.

In addition, interactive maps can focus on geographic regions during certain points in history, such as Colonial America or the Byzantine era.

Interactive How To’s and Guides

Both teachers and students can leverage the educational technology potential of Whitepoint in building interactive guides. Step by step instructions on performing tasks or interactive guides illustrating processes – such as photosynthesis – can be powerful tools for learning. Having students construct their own guides is one way to pull in cross-disciplinary learning opportunities.

Campus Tours

We’ve written before about Whitepoint as a framework for building and sharing campus tours for students and visitors.

However, the Whitepoint platform can also serve as an educational technology for groups of students in class to build and map tours of their school. In addition to serving as a great orientation tool for new students, this application would provide opportunities for lessons in teamwork, photography, writing, and technology.

Do you have other ideas for Whitepoint as an educational technology? Or, maybe you have questions? We’d love to hear from you.

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Whitepoint: A Virtual Campus Tour Solution

Oglethorpe University recently went live with their Whitepoint campus tour. We had the opportunity earlier in the year to work closely with them in learning what their needs were, what students liked and didn’t like, and what wasn’t effective about their existing virtual campus tour.

Oglethorpe University Virtual Campus Tour Image

An Oglethorpe University campus mobile tour as seen from an earlier version of the Whitepoint app for Android.

For most schools, the virtual campus tour means a number of images of the school with captions, uploaded to their web site. For others, a virtual campus tour may mean a Flash-based virtual walkthrough of the campus, which rarely – if ever – gets updated.

Oglethorpe is a beautiful school with a rich history. And, it’s a perfect case study for how a smart tour can help highlight points of interest. Whether or not your school has hundreds of years of history and stone architecture, prospective students need to see the highlights of a school’s campus. And, existing students, as well as the countless visitors to your campus throughout the year, likely need help navigating it.

Regardless of how you choose to build a smart campus tour, here are a few points to consider:

  • More prospective students are using mobile devices to explore their college choices. Deliver the content in a format that utilizes the benefits of mobile devices and technologies. Pictures of your school’s campus can make a big impact on the iOS retina display, for example.
  • Existing students and visitors are more likely now to be using a mobile device to navigate a school’s campus. Different smart campus tours can be tailored for specific uses such as those of prospective students, existing students, or families visiting the campus for graduation.
  • Tour content should be compelling and dynamic. Static virtual campus tours of the past don’t resonate with today’s prospective student. And, glossy brochures alone logically don’t carry the weight they once did. The expectation now of the prospective student’s demographic is that content be rich, of value, and up-to-date. If you utilize a tour content management tool – like Whitepoint – it makes it easy to manage, update, and deliver that content across desktop and mobile platforms simultaneously.
  • Building another custom app or Flash-based tour will likely mean more content that just doesn’t get updated. By their very nature, Flash-based tour presentations or custom tour apps are less likely to have content updated regularly. Specific skill sets are required and the update process is far more cumbersome.With Whitepoint, management of content is handled online via the authoring panel and largely requires uploading of pictures and writing content. That’s it.

And, last but not least, building smarter virtual tours with Whitepoint is a great way to involve students in a rewarding edtech group activity.

Getting started building a tour with Whitepoint is easy and affordable. There are subscription-based authoring plans available for a variety of tour capabilities.

Already using or thinking about using Whitepoint as a campus tour technology? We’d love to hear from you – just post a comment or tweet @WhitepointMobi.

Happy #whitepointing! You can get started with Whitepoint mobile touring and social mapping today.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Right This Way: Managing Tour Content for the Mobile Web

Tour content management is part of a broader content management strategy for web designers and marketers. If you’re in charge of managing images and accompanying text for web or mobile tours of a museum, gallery, real estate, or other similar project, it probably makes up the bulk of your routine duties. It might also make up for the bulk of your headaches.

Why? There are a number of reasons, not least of which are image specifications, alt texts, and of course the constant creation of quality content.

In managing Whitepoint tour content ourselves and helping others build tours for the mobile web, we’ve developed some thoughts on best practices and tools that can help along the way.

Tour Content = Lots of Images

First off, tour content – and we mean good tour content – means lots of images.

And, not everyone is a graphic designer or photographer. Because of that, we’ve made some recommendations on free or low cost photo and graphics editing tools in a past blog post.

But, Tour Content Also Equals Relevant Images

More and more, with relevance and freshness of content being a key search engine optimization factor, tour content is logically affected as well. How fresh are your images? It isn’t just about having lots of images. It’s also about having relevant images.

Whitepoints on college campus tour content.

Tour content from this college campus tour shows whitepoints plotted on a beautiful spring landscape.

Maybe you manage an online tour of a college campus. Do prospective students want to see the winter landscape of your academic quad year-round? Try always updating with your most season appropriate image.

If you’re in real estate, providing an autumnal image of the property probably isn’t a good idea if the property is still on the market the following summer.

Tour Content Can Also Include Those Filenames Too

Adopting a method for image file naming is a great idea for two reasons. First, it makes photos easier to organize. Secondly, they become even more search engine friendly once posted.

So what’s a good way to do it? Some is personal preference, but try to stick with a method that will serve both organizational and SEO purposes. For a fictional university campus we’ll call UWP, let’s say you’ve got images for the student cafe, Briggs building, and tennis courts. Try this method:

Cafe-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Briggs-Building-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Tennis-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Yes, the dashes between words make a difference for your SEO purposes.

If you go with the above method, just place them in a folder called “UWP Campus Tour” when you manage multiple projects. You may even use that same folder with dashes if you’re uploading the whole thing.

As far as the organization goes, you can thank us later.

And Of Course, Text Content Management

If you manage tour content of any kind, you probably find that you routinely use the same snippets of text over and over again. On Mac, one thing we’ve found that helps is a nifty little tool called Flycut. This tool helps you manage your clipboard, archiving a history that you can easily call from and drop.

For Windows, gHacks has interesting recommendations on a tool called Clipjump.

Don’t Forget Mobile

It should go without saying, but many traditional organizations still don’t understand the impact of mobile. Lots of industries have more mobile users than desktop users, and some vice versa. But, no industry is spared from the impact of mobile.

Whatever you do, make sure first of all that you’re able to keep your image file size down. It’s best if you can offer a mobile-friendly version of the tour. If so, this will impact your image file choices. You may even keep separate versions for both desktop and mobile.

Be sure to test your tour content on multiple mobile devices – iPhones, Android phones, tablets, iPads . . . on and on. Formatting for so many different devices is tricky and time consuming. Luckily, a tour content management framework like Whitepoint may have already done this for you. Images can be optimized automatically as well, with little or no perceived loss in image quality.

And, needless to say, if you are managing tour content, you can use every bit of help and every single time saver.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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