Interactive maps give audiences a taste of life at the university.
It’s the newest (and coolest) way to explore the George Washington University without setting foot on campus.
The GW Virtual Tour—unveiled during Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting—allows viewers to navigate through the university’s campuses and Washington, D.C., while learning the ins and outs of GW.
“The GW Virtual Tour is so much more than I ever imagined when we first began discussing the idea,” said Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles. “It is not only a site where people can see where campus buildings are in relation to other things, but users will see how the GW community interacts with the campus and with Washington, D.C.”
Currently, the Virtual Tour website offers multiple ways to interact with three separate maps: the Foggy Bottom Campus, the Mount Vernon Campus and downtown D.C. A map of the Virginia Science and Technology Campus is coming soon.
The Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon maps show architectural renderings of every building on campus. Clicking on a building brings you to a page that includes its description, photographs, a list of related links, a feed of events and real-time Twitter updates. Some buildings, such as Gelman Library and the Marvin Center, also feature videos created exclusively for the virtual tour.
Users can also navigate on the maps through an A to Z list of buildings or they can explore topics, such as “Academics and Research,” “Student Life” and “Community Service.” Additionally, the Virtual Tour has “layers” that highlight different spots on campus. For instance, the sustainability layer shows where bike racks, water bottle fillers and CarShare spots are located, and the residential layer makes it easy to see where residence halls are in relation to other campus buildings. An optional “GW Highlights” function sends users through a guided tour of 10 hot spots on campus, with a bonus stop that shows places to visit off campus.
Since D.C. is an integral part of life at GW, the Virtual Tour’s District map allows users to discover locations and attractions off campus. Places like the Kennedy Center, the White House and the U.S. Department of State building all are presented on the tour, highlighting GW’s connection to the locations. Find out, for example, which School of Media and Public Affairs course is taught at the Newseum and see how First Lady Michelle Obama has supported GW service efforts.
Though virtual college tours are typically intended for prospective students, the designers of the GW Virtual Tour wanted to create a tool for multiple audiences.
“What is unique about the GW tour is that beyond prospective students, it is something that current students, parents and alumni can take advantage of,” said Leah Rosen, assistant vice president for marketing and creative services. “Instead of featuring talking heads, we really wanted to share the breadth of the GW experience. The tour will constantly be evolving.”
While its maps were built by an outside vendor, the GW Virtual Tour design, photography and video were all created by students, faculty and staff from across the university.
As campus expands, the Virtual Tour will grow with it. In addition to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus map, there are plans to add more downtown locations, videos, photos and guided tours that will be customized for specific audiences.