Cell phones to be employed to recruit Hispanic, hearing-impaired students
Contact: Elise Doster
HAMMOND – Prospective Hispanic and hearing-impaired students will have a high-tech way to tour Southeastern Louisiana University’s campus, thanks to a $23,000 grant from AT&T to develop an interactive campus tour guide.
Southeastern plans to have the “Campus Virtual Mobile Tour Guide” project completed within the next year with a goal of reaching out to more diverse and underserved groups that would not otherwise have a way to tour Southeastern’s campus.
Becky Parton, assistant professor of educational technology and co-advocate of the project, said Southeastern is working closely with the Louisiana School for the Deaf and schools in heavily-Hispanic areas of New Orleans to promote higher education and outreach among those populations.
Through the grant, “We will be purchasing numerous cell phones with access to GPS, which we will then loan to prospective students when they visit Southeastern,” Parton said.
She said the GPS-enabled cell phones will track the student’s location and deliver important information about specific buildings directly to the phone’s screen.
“The phones will deliver information inside and outside of important campus buildings and depending on their language needs, give detailed information about campus ‘hot spots’ in English, Spanish or American Sign Language,” Parton said.
Parton said “hot spots” will be placed on the exterior of buildings to signal when a student has arrived at their location and deliver automated text messages to the rented phones. Mounted barcodes inside buildings will also provide access to informational text messages. The student will be able to take a picture of an indoor barcode just like a normal cell phone picture and deliver information in the same form as the external “hot spots.”
Parton and Jason Hancock, assistant professor of educational technology, wrote the grant with the intent of reaching across language barriers by using state-of-the art technology and devices that are easily accessible to the university and prospective students. The AT&T grant is providing funds to purchase the cell phones and develop the GPS technology throughout Southeastern’s campus.
Parton said the multilingual tour guide would be the first time many students are able to tour a university without a language barrier, which may spark their interest in pursuing a higher education.