Honors program revamps campus tour for prospective students
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 00:04
They can be found on the tables of restaurants across America. Black and white checkered boxes, known as Quick Response Codes, appear on the backs of Heinz Ketchup bottles and in many other locations across the country — now including the Miami University campus.
These often overlooked Quick Response codes, commonly known as QR codes, contain encoded information that can be read by most smart phones. When detected in camera mode, QR codes serve as a link, taking the user of the device to a webpage.
This year David Sheehan, assistant director of the Miami Honors Program, and junior Andrew Hayes, a student recruitment coordinator for the program, worked together to incorporate QR codes into the scavenger hunt put on for perspective students during Honors Overnight events on the first three Sundays of April.
According to Sheehan, the scavenger hunt involves a group of prospective honors students solving clues placed around campus to figure out where they must go next.
“It’s a slightly different route than what they would do on a campus tour,” Sheehan said.
The scavenger hunt aims to help students engage with the campus, Sheehan said.
In the past, envelopes containing written clues led students on the scavenger hunt. On occasion, those envelopes would get pulled down or blown away by the wind. According to Sheehan, that was not the only flaw with the old system.
“After about the second [location] you go to you realize there’s a group ahead of you going to the exact same place and you don’t have to figure out the clues, you just have to follow them,” Sheehan said. “So it kind of took out the competition-like ‘Amazing Race’ sort of element.”
Sheehan first thought of the idea to replace the envelopes with QR codes so students could access clues using their smart phones, and Hayes put the idea to work creating video, image and text clues and linking them to the codes. A few other changes have been made to enhance the event.
For two of the three overnight events, there is only one route for the scavenger hunt, but for the second of the three there are various themed routes — such as sports and scenic — that take students to specific parts of campus. Though this means not every student will see all of campus, an aspect was added to the event to provide a solution, Sheehan said.
“We actually asked [students] throughout the event to then take the things that they learned at each location and create a miniature presentation that they gave to their peers later in the evening,” Sheehan said. “So basically, as a whole, their entire group got to bond by discovering kind of the entire campus.”
The events double as a research project for Hayes, with the single route scavenger hunt acting as the control group and the themed-route, along with presentations, the experiment.
Emails are sent out to gather feedback from members in each of the groups from the three different event dates. This data is then compared with feedback from past years.
According to Hayes, though the data from the third event which took place this past Sunday is not in yet, the results seem to show participants felt creating presentations and themed tours enhanced their experience.
Deepika Hebbalalu, prospective honors student, encountered QR codes for the first time when she went on the scavenger hunt. Hebbalalu said the video and image clues made the scavenger hunt stand out.
“I don’t even know how [QR codes] work, so it was really cool how you could take a picture of it and it links you to somewhere else,” Hebbalalu said.
The week after her visit to Miami she noticed codes being used in a Chicago museum. According to Hebbalalu, their use would be valuable for other purposes.
Hayes said QR codes could be utilized even more at Miami.
“Depending on how the data looks for this project, I kind of want to suggest to [the admission board] that they use QR codes for the self-guided campus tours,”Hayes said.
Hayes said the videos help prospective students see a different side of the campus than they would with a traditional tour.
“It’s one thing to see the Goggin Ice Arena on a tour but it’s completely different to see the game in action,” Hayes said. “One of the clues was a video of Jump Around. That’s completely different from seeing empty seats and clean ice.”
Hebbalalu agreed and said in the future she would like to be involved in the scavenger hunts as a guide working with prospective students. According to Hebbalalu, the scavenger hunt had great value.
“It was really nice to go see the whole campus because I had never really taken a tour of the whole thing,” Hebbalalu said. “I just thought it was really nice to learn about it from a different student’s perspective … I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it.”