When school group visits to Carolina’s campus paused due to the pandemic, UNC Visitors Center director Rhonda Hubbard Beatty still wanted to give school children across the state the opportunity to learn about UNC-Chapel Hill and everything the University has to offer.
That goal sparked the center’s new Sense of Place school group video tour, which launched in May to provide a virtual tour of Carolina that introduces the campus’ history, traditions and research endeavors happening at the University. The Visitors Center staff began developing the tour in 2021 by adjusting its Sense of Place on-campus tour to focus on the younger audience. They included questions to ensure that students are engaging with the material and created bingo cards of questions that are answered throughout the video.
“We are not aware of other Universities providing a resource like our tour,” Beatty says. “We’re filling a void and providing an opportunity for school kids around the state and beyond to learn more about Carolina and higher education.”
Carolina K-12, a Carolina Public Humanities program that extends the University’s resources to North Carolina’s educators, provided feedback throughout the process and suggested opportunities for the tour to also help introduce vocabulary terms and encourage active listening.
“Research shows that the more exposure young folks have to visiting college campuses, the more likely they are to continue their studies after high school,” Carolina K-12 director Christie Hinson Norris says. “COVID and the general stress placed on our K-12 school systems as of late have made field trips practically impossible, however. This program is a wonderful way to support our state’s hardworking teachers in exposing their students to great higher education options like Carolina.”
In the virtual tour video, the elementary and middle school students meet three current Tar Heel students with diverse majors and interests. The three students are Carolina student Visitors Center guides who give tours on campus every day, so they were already familiar with the material and were prepared to go on camera when Beatty asked them to appear in the video.
“Our guides are enthusiastic and engaging, so the video feels more like a conversation with three cool Carolina students,” Beatty says. “It feels like they’re just walking potential future Tar Heels around campus and sharing anecdotes which makes it relatable to the audience.”
Sheba Hamouda, a human development and family studies major and tour guide featured in the video, says she was happy to help create an opportunity for school-aged students to learn more about the University.
“It is important for classrooms to have access to a video like this because it may not be feasible for students and families to visit, but that does not mean that distance should interfere with a student’s dream of seeing and attending Carolina,” Hamouda says.
Any educator who wants to screen the tour for their students can email email@example.com and receive a link to the video tour and instructions with printable resources for their students.
“Our hope is that the Sense of Place school group video tour is a tool for educators and students to ‘visit’ Carolina and learn more about the University in a format created especially for them,” Beatty says.