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Colorado Tech and American Intercontinental Launch Virtual Tours To Woo Students

To woo students to their distance learning programs, Colorado Technical University (CTU) and American Intercontinental University (AIU) have launched microsites that provide interactive tours of their virtual campuses, called CTU Online and AIU Virtual Campus, respectively. The institutions, which both have physical campuses, have high participation in online classes. Eighty-one percent of students at CTU take classes online; the number is 83 percent at AIU. Both are also owned by the same company, Career Education Corp., which has 85 campuses in four countries.

The sites, which have the same basic interface, were created by StudioNorth, a Chicago-based Web design and development firm, using Adobe Flex and Microsoft .NET technologies.

AIU's virtual tour splash page


"More and more universities are offering degrees online, but not all online experiences are the same," said Brett Harris, CTU director of marketing. "The usability and uniqueness of our award-winning virtual campus and online learning technology differentiates CTU. With this microsite, prospective students can experience the benefits of our online education in a way we weren't able to communicate in words or pictures before."

"As more universities offer degrees online, it's hard to tell what kind of experience you'll get as a student before you enroll," said Debbie McKean, director of marketing for American InterContinental University. "We wanted to take the guesswork out of what we have to offer at our award-winning virtual campus and show how our online learning technology really differentiates AIU. Now prospective students can experience the benefits of an AIU Online education in a way we weren't able to communicate in words or pictures before."

The tours consist of three spaces, a virtual commons, a virtual classroom, and virtual resources, each with text, links, and video. For example, the virtual commons includes information about interacting with other students through chat, e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking; joining clubs; and doing professional networking. It also profiles students from each university in a video. Virtual resources include information about online library materials, financial aid, and career services.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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