In recent months, the Office of Admissions at Saint Leo University has been using the latest trend in social media to reach prospective students from around the world. It’s a live video tour of University Campus conducted by student tour guides every Wednesday afternoon.
In spring 2015, the Office of Admissions initially used the program Meerkat, then transitioned to Periscope, for mobile live streaming of campus events (Spring Open House and Summer Fest). The office now uses the program to conduct live weekly video campus tours for prospective students worldwide.
The Periscope format allows for real-time video sharing with student followers. It is interactive as participants may submit questions, and the video hosts, or tour guides, can respond immediately. Also, the tour’s content can be customized based on the users’ interaction and requests. The video tours are available for replay for 24 hours following the live broadcast. To date, more than 1,000 prospective students have participated in the live Periscope broadcasts.
“We started marketing the video tours as an option for students who aren’t able travel to campus for an in-person visit,” said Reggie Hill, assistant vice president of enrollment. “This technology is particularly effective, especially with our international students, who frequently arrive having never seen the campus except in still photographs. Having prospective students get a preliminary look at University Campus is a major advantage for us.”
According to Hill, very few colleges are offering this communications technology alternative. “Saint Leo was one of the first colleges and universities to use Periscope for the purposes of live virtual tours,” he said. “We used it weeks after the software was available to the public and the idea was presented to us without any outside influence.”
Saint Leo is in good company with other early adopters in higher education, including The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Temple University, MIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Hill explained that viewers must follow Saint Leo’s Twitter account to access the video tour. They continue to receive additional enrollment messages after the tour has concluded for as long as they remain followers.
Here are recent reactions from high school students who viewed the campus tour:
– “The Periscopes on Twitter were very useful to me because I’m from the Northeast and haven’t had the pleasure of visiting campus. Periscope made it so much easier to really see the university and how the students interact.” (Jaycie, senior –Nashua, NH)
– “I actually have attended quite a few live tours. I loved them! They answered all my questions and were very good about getting to everyone’s questions. It was nice how we actually got to see inside the school and classrooms.” (Alysa, senior – Clearwater, FL)
The live video tours are marketed to prospective students through email invitation, a Facebook campaign, Twitter advertising, and a website presence. Potential future uses include live interviews with faculty, live visits to classrooms, and other special on-campus events.