Featured picture of post "Calgary University Library uses ThingLink to Create Immersive Orientation Guides"

Calgary University Library uses ThingLink to Create Immersive Orientation Guides

Kyla Ball

Calgary University Library creates beautifully simple virtual tours and orientation guides to assist new students with library resources

We are always excited to share inspiring content created by our ThingLink community. Here are some fabulous resources created by Calgary University Library, shared with us by Marc Stoeckle, Associate Librarian.  All these examples feature great design at their heart. And like all good designs, it ensures that they are simple and intuitive to use. Be inspired with these first class examples which combine professional-looking but easy-to-replicate design concepts!

1. Guide to the Library for new undergraduate students

To introduce the library to first year students, Marc and his colleagues created this virtual orientation guide based around a dinosaur themed landing page.

Create your own interactive virtual tours and guides

To see just how easy it is to start creating content like this, try ThingLink for free today!

What’s behind the design?

The Calgary University Library is a key resource for all students and vital to their time at University. However, staff found that new students sometimes thought of it just as a place for coffee and quiet reflection. On the contrary says Marc – libraries are places that could potentially solve lots of their needs – if only they knew where to look! “These days we know how to search, but we don’t necessarily know how to RE-search.” This guide helps to get students on track straight away. Now they have one less thing to worry about in their first few weeks at university and can get the most out of this valuable resource as quickly as possible.  

Why does this ThingLink work so well? We have broken it down into some key points which you can follow or copy in your own creations.

  • SIMPLIFY: Making things simple. It contains exactly the same material that students had access to before in information sessions or printed guides, laid out in a simpler format.
  • CONSISTENCY is key to the useability of this example. Wherever you are in the design, you can always come back to the start.
  • The dinosaur map which was designed by two of Marc’s colleagues looks fun,  visually appealing and welcoming. Students are now far more likely to explore and engage with it than with text based guides. As Marc explains, “content created for students can live and die depending on the creativity of it!”.

2. A Road Map Virtual Visit to the Library

This road map guides students with English as a second language around the largest library on campus – the Taylor Family Digital Library or TFDL. Its tags contain information about all the key locations and resources they might require and links to 360 images of the different parts of the library. 

Why does this road map work so well as a virtual guide?

  • Road map graphics always work well to show your users the journey they are taking – particularly if there is a sequence they should follow. They can easily see how far along the path they are too!
  • Accessibility should always be a key consideration when creating end user content, regardless of your audience. This example was specially designed for TFDL students so takes special consideration of their requirements. The text and media tags contain voiceovers, and the language and speed of delivery has been carefully considered so that it is accessible for those with English as a second language.

And if the library needs to update the 360 scenes? Now that Covid restrictions have been removed from the campus, they would like to replace the 360 tour images that were captured during lockdown. Simple! “Drag and drop makes it so easy” says Marc.

Helpful Tip for creating a self-guided tour!

Simple clear and consistent design helps your users orientate themselves around your content. Why not consider an eye-catching landing page or road map to guide users around your content, created in Canva? 

A Virtual Tour that takes you from Canada to Austria

This third example takes visitors on a tour from Calgary to 19th century Austria, to illustrate the wonderful story of the only Canadian who met Ludwig van Beethoven in person.

Why does this tour work so well?

The very clever combination of background map and graphics creates a smooth and seamless transition from one part of the story to the next.

  1. Background image: Marc sourced archival photos as his base media and used Adobe Photoshop to edit them, but you could create a similar effect using the ThingLink Canva integration. 
  2. The Tour Tag. It’s often thought that the tour tag has to link different locations or 360 scenes but this example shows how powerful it can be when used alongside a consistent design on 2D images. Each scene in the tour is in fact a slightly altered version of the original background image. They are all created using the same map with different graphics laid on top. As you move between the scenes, the geographical locations mentioned in the text box are also highlighted. Move back and forth between the scenes a few times and you will soon see how this clever effect was created. The tags were then simply placed on top in the appropriate places. To the user, the transition appears seamless and we are unaware that we are in fact moving between scenes! 

Marc would encourage anyone – of any age and experience – to get started creating content with ThingLink “Anyone can use it” he insists, “the opportunities on this platform are endless.”

An added bonus example:

This example uses music in a particularly creative way! 

Although we mostly think of ThingLink as a visual tool, consider incorporating music or other sounds in your content to create a holistic virtual experience. The Calgary University Library had always provided opportunities for students to decompress from the stresses of student life, and wanted to recreate this in a virtual way during lockdown.

This immersive multimedia experience makes use of calming soundscapes. It also serves a double purpose by building awareness of the library’s music resources. Following the success of this work, Marc is now considering connecting a real and a virtual piano and adding this to the ThingLink scene!

Thanks to Marc Stoeckle and colleagues at Calgary University Library for sharing these inspiring and original examples of ThingLink in action. 

Further examples of virtual campus tours

ThingLink is increasingly being used by undergraduate admissions teams to create virtual campus visits to show off residence halls, athletics and sports facilities, the academic programs, classrooms, lecture theatres and other features that make their beautiful campuses so appealing!

The most engaging ones that we have seen incorporate the voices of current student ambassadors who act as virtual tour guides, such as:

Join the conversation on social media!

Have you been inspired to create user friendly and engaging content with ThingLink? Share your best examples with us on our Facebook Education Group!

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