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In-person campus tours given to prospective students is an essential undertaking by universities. Such tours offer new faculty and students an overview of expectations and norms in the university community as a whole. The International Christian University (ICU) has been utilizing in-person campus tours in open campus activities as part of its normal daily operations but due to limited human and temporal resources, along with the unforeseen unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, there has developed a need to provide prospective students, family members, and other visitors alternative ways to learn about the campus. In this regard, the proliferation of 360° or virtual reality (VR) photo cameras and the ever-increasing supply of low-cost technologies for experiencing VR applications provide a practical and virtual alternative. This paper describes a pilot project utilizing a VR photo-based tour as an alternative to ICU’s traditional physical campus tours. It presents a usability analysis and a preliminary draft measure of user experience arrived at after conducting correlation analysis, t-test, and text analysis, and obtaining preliminary results such as the effect of spatial presence on usability, desire to visit, and variables related to interest and intrinsic motivation. The key findings show how a VR campus tour can, if used correctly, complement and augment in-person campus tours, while opening up opportunities for further investigating spatial presence and motivation in educational contexts.
Keywords: virtual reality, VR photo-based tour, virtual tour, usability, 360° technology
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