Baylor Receives CASE Circle of Excellence Award

September 28, 2009
The Baylor Virtual Tour received a Silver award in the CASE 2009 Circle of Excellence Awards Program. Director of ITS Internet Services Randy Woodruff initialized the concept, Lyle Pratt served as the primary contributor and Jerry Knight assisted with technology advice on this new, online graphically-driven tour of the Baylor experience directed toward prospective students. The team worked extensively with BaylorVision, Baylor Photography, Electronic Marketing, Electronic Communications and Marketing Information to create this innovative recruiting tool.

Rather than using conventional Flash technology, the Baylor Virtual Tour instead utilizes Ajax and jQuery. According to David Seago, manager of Internet Systems, jQuery "is a JavaScript library that allows us to animate objects, handle events, traverse documents and interact with Ajax-- another newer technology allowing us to retrieve data from servers asynchronously in the background without having the user wait on the data before presenting them with the HTML for the page."

Many sites use Flash for these types of presentations, but project designers purposefully explored ways to incorporate newer technologies to make the Baylor Virtual Tour a reality.

"By avoiding Flash, search engines can navigate the site," said Randy Woodruff. "Furthermore, some computers and browsers can not or do not work well with Flash. Therefore, we use JavaScript, and this is a very sophisticated use of that technology."

CASE (The Council for Advancement and Support of Education) is a global professional organization for those who promote education. Their membership includes more than 3,400 elementary through university level educational institutions and educational associates in 61 countries around the world.

The Circle of Excellence Awards Program has 39 categories recognizing achievements in advancement services, alumni relations, communications and marketing, fundraising and integrated advancement projects. As part of CASE's integrated advancement recognition, the Baylor Virtual Tour was selected out of 52 entries in the Creative Use of Technology and New Media category to receive a Silver award.

While the Virtual Tour was launched earlier in the year, it is now being featured on the front page of the Baylor web site. Just in the month of June, the tour has been viewed over 60,000 times. Moreover, Randy Woodruff and his team will continue to add innovations to the Tour to enhance the Baylor experience online.

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