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Competition challenges students to design virtual campus tour

| Thursday, September 24, 2015

Earlier this semester, Notre Dame students were invited to participate in the VisitND challenge, a competition in which individuals or teams of students compete head-to-head to see who can create the best virtual tour of campus.

Don Ginocchio, the University Alliances Director at SAP, one of the challenge’s sponsors, said the challenge was created after the University realized visitors wanted a cohesive tour of campus, but could not find one online.

“Unfortunately, the resources [for a tour] are sort of spread around at Notre Dame,” Ginocchio said. “You know, you can go to the website, there are some tour ND resources for the bigger sights, the alumni office has some resources, athletics has resources, admissions has resources, but it takes some effort to put them all together.”

The winning tours will appear on the ND mobile app, which will allow visitors to campus to utilize the tour, along with the map and app’s other functions, Ginocchio said.

VisitND Challenge graphic FINAL WEBSusan Zhu | The Observer

“Notre Dame has invested in the ND mobile app, which most of us have on our phones, and there is a tour module on there that Notre Dame hasn’t deployed, hasn’t used, so the idea is solicit the creativity and innovation of students to create those tours that eventually will be available to visitors and really anyone,” Ginocchio said. “We all have an opinion on what to see at Notre Dame and we all have different, interesting opinions on what to see because we are blessed with such a beautiful campus.

“So it was really those ideas coming together, and the administration wanting to sponsor [this event].”

Ginocchio said the challenge asks students to create a tour that is thematically linked, easy to follow and innovative.

“It could be a theme around spiritual sights, architectural sights, athletic sights, prospective student sights, what a prospective student would like to see,” he said. “The idea of the contest is to engage students in educational and fun experience that exposes them to technology.”

The deadline to enter a tour proposal was Sept. 21, Ginocchio said. A committee will review all the entries, and on Sept. 25, the top 10 entries will be announced.

“The judges are the all-stars of the Notre Dame leadership,” Ginocchio said. “We wanted to involve all the communities that have an opinion: athletics, game day operations, communications, admissions and alumni. It’s a really nice way for the different stakeholders and constituents in the University to come together.”

According to Ginocchio, there are 13 judges, including Joyce Lantz, director of Recruitment and Communication for Undergraduate Admissions, Julie Boynton, director of Interior Architecture and Patrick Flynn, professor of computer science engineering and electrical engineering.

Ginocchio said after the University announces the top 10 entries, the winning teams will create their tour. The students will have to create a video to accompany each tour stop, along with a paragraph that explains the significance of each stop and a picture of each stop on the tour. Once students create these videos, they will be placed in the tour module in the ND mobile app.

The entries will then be judged again, and on Nov. 6, the judges will choose top five tours.

Ginocchio said the tours will go live on the ND mobile app on Nov. 13.

“We don’t have and probably will never have a lot of signage on campus,” he said. “What’s nice about technology is that it provides a non-intrusive way for those that have an interest to access all that information and decide what they want to see. We want everyone to appreciate Notre Dame the way we do.”

Ginocchio, who is on the judging committee, said the committee will consider fan and user feedback when evaluating the tours and choosing the winners. The winners will be announced on Dec. 1.

“There will be four winners. First place wins $2500, second prize is $1000, Modo labs, who is the vendor for the software is providing another $1000 prize, and SAP will provide SAP merchandise to one of the winners,” Ginocchio said. “The committee did talk, and if there is another really great idea at that time we’ll evaluate if there is something we can do for that team, at least recognize them in some way, including just asking them to help us implement their tour, which is recognition within itself.”

Ginocchio said the challenge aims to educate students in a fun and interesting way about technology and also help the university improve the visitor experience.

“You know, a lot of people visit Notre Dame, they aren’t necessarily here for football weekend or for an admissions tour,” Ginocchio said. “They are here because they are passing through, or they are a friend or family member of someone who goes to Notre Dame, or they’ve always wanted to visit Notre Dame or they saw the movie Rudy, and, you know, they want to see those sights. This will help them do that.”

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