Take a Virtual Tour of BYU Online

  By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer

  • 3 December 2013

An aerial shot of the LaVell Edwards Stadium at BYU.  Photo by Jaren Wilkey, BYU.

Article Highlights

  • The virtual tour includes 123 “hotspot” interactive buttons.
  • Nineteen informational links and 16 Cougar comments are designed to give prospective students the inside scoop.
  • Virtual visitors are able to do many things even students don’t do on a regular basis.

“Hopefully this tour can help other students know if this is where they belong, where they will fit in, and where they need to be.” —Paris Sorbonne, project collaborator

Freshman no longer need to fear getting lost on the first day of class, thanks to a group of upperclassmen at Brigham Young University. After more than five months of collaborating with many departments, a group of 15 students created a new interactive map of the university’s campus that is available online.

“BYU has been such a blessing to me, and hopefully this tour can help other students know if this is where they belong, where they will fit in, and where they need to be,” said Paris Sorbonne, an advertising major who led the project.

For many prospective students the opportunity to visit a college campus prior to attending a university is not a feasible option. Yet with the new virtual tour—which includes aerial and panoramic views of many buildings on campus—students are able to walk the sidewalks, enter classrooms and buildings, and orient themselves without even stepping foot in the state of Utah.

With 123 total “hotspot” interactive buttons on the map, the virtual tour includes 19 informational links, 16 “Cougar comments” that show videos of students talking about their experience, 11 historic images, 38 videos, and 39 website links. There are 72 panoramic photos of different places on campus.

One of the first things the student creators did was to have a host take them on the tour prospective students visiting the campus would go on. From there, they started to pull together their ideas of what they wanted to share and highlight.

“We started with a really big brainstorming session,” said Paris. “We took all of our ideas and put them on a whiteboard. We wrote everything that has made up our BYU experience so far.”

Whether it is marching to a football game in the midst of the Cougar marching band, visiting the indoor football facility, walking through the gallery of the Museum of Art, or digitally playing the bells in the top of the bell tower, virtual visitors to campus are able to do many things even the students don’t do on a regular basis.

Links to historic photos and facts are located around campus, along with links to many of the different college’s websites. An interactive game where the user collects different items around campus helps them earn a discount at the BYU Bookstore.

“We tried to embed some fun facts throughout the tour,” said Derek Hansen, a faculty member who led the project. “We knew we couldn’t do everything, but we wanted to give a good overview of the campus.”

Students of different disciplines worked together to produce a virtual map of the Brigham Young University campus. Photo by Jaren Wilkey, BYU.

In addition to helping prospective students, the online tour provides an opportunity for alumni to virtually walk down memory lane as they reminisce about their college days, as well as see the changes to campus.

“The campus was changing all the time,” said Brother Hansen. “One of the hardest things about filming this was that there was so much construction going on all over campus.”

For a lot of the students it was a great way to work together with other students in different fields to create an even better final product. One of the best products of this project is the problem solving and “real life” work experiences, said Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center at BYU.

“This project reached far beyond the College of Fine Arts and Communication. Our disciplines had to work together to find solutions to problems as they came along. ... We believe in the quality and expertise and beauty of the project that we make, but that is a byproduct of the other skills and experiences that they gain as they work in this environment.”