Revamped virtual campus tour launched

Pat Koster, Associate News Editor

SUNY Buffalo State recently revamped its online virtual tour in order to keep up with the changes occurring around campus.

The updated virtual tour includes photos, videos, 360-degree panoramas, maps, and a walking tour that guests can access from their computers or smartphones. created the new website, with the help of the College Relations Office and Instructional Resources.

WKBW news reporter and Buffalo State alumna, Desiree Wiley, and current theater major Jesse Tiebor guided viewers through Buffalo State’s buildings and facilities.

Tiebor, a student ambassador, had experience with giving campus tours prior to the making of the virtual tour. The filming of his part of the tour happened over winter break this year.

“The whole tour took about four hours to do,” Tiebor said. “The most difficult part was articulation and actually meaning what you are saying. Positivity and enthusiasm are key.”

Tiebor said that he struggled because he had a sore throat the day of filming, which he later found out was strep. Despite his illness, he said he was glad to have finished it.

“I think overall the tour turned out well. It can also be very difficult to watch yourself do something. As an actor and performer, I am constantly positively judging my work and seeing how I can improve what I am doing.

“That being said, I think I could’ve done a lot better, especially if I was feeling better that day. However, I’m satisfied with the overall product and think it will [hopefully] appeal to a big crowd and encourage people to check out the campus and see what Buff State has going on.”

Associate vice president for College Relations, Tim Walsh, said the full process of updating the tour lasted over two semesters. He said the update was in order to feature the newly opened Technology Building and Buffalo State’s campus signage. The process included an updated reshooting of the campus tour, along with the filming of the featured tour guides.

“The tour offers a great tool for prospective students, new faculty and staff members, and alums to ‘walk the campus’ and get a real sense about the special spot we have here in the heart of Buffalo’s Elmwood Village and the city’s cultural corridor,” Walsh said. “We have an eclectic campus that offers so much to our community.”

Walsh told Buffalo State News and Events that 102,780 visitors have viewed the tour since its launch. He said that over 12,150 actions have occurred, including Admissions leads and inquiries.

Walsh said that YouVisit has a national web presence that attracts prospective college students, which is why Buffalo State chose to work with them. Buffalo State is among campuses such as Harvard, Yale, and Vanderbilt that are all featured on YouVisit as well.

“One of YouVisit’s founding principles is to provide people with the most immersive media experience possible, so they feel as if they are actually in the space we are recreating in the tour,” Suzanne Sanders, director of marketing at YouVisit, said in an email. “Our Visual Media Team—a specially trained collection of photographers, videographers, and developers—works hard to produce images for our tours that are more lifelike and memorable than other virtual tours.

“Not only this, but we’ve added immersive features to our tours such as student tour guides, video content, and exclusive access to places on college campuses that are typically not open to the public. Additionally, all YouVisit tours are available in virtual reality, a clear differentiator and advantage that gives colleges a leg-up on recruiting students.”

The email said that numerous members of their company came to Buffalo State to help create the virtual tour. They said that the process of creating a virtual tour is complex and that preparation can take weeks or even months, depending on the needs of a school.

“Part of the preparation is working with the YouVisit team to schedule a time for a professional on-site shoot, which takes place over a number of days,” Sanders said. “Once the YouVisit team is on a campus, they rely on their training to capture the location in the most immersive way possible.”

Sanders said that Buffalo State has access to YouVisit’s content management system, which enables the school to customize, optimize, and add additional content to the initial virtual tour.

She said that they have been developing a virtual reality platform that renders all of YouVisit’s content on current leading virtual reality headsets. According to Sanders, virtual reality campus tours have helped recruit students, unite multiple campuses, and help online students feel connected to the communities.

“We see a future for virtual reality content in education that is limitless—anything from virtual visits to historical sites around the world to virtual classes.”

Sanders also said that they are working on developing 360-degree videos and a proprietary platform for them to be viewed on.

Maybe 360-degree videos in Buffalo State’s virtual tour are a possibility for the future. But for now, the revamped virtual tour can be viewed here: The free mobile app can also be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.

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Twitter: @KatPoster