The renewed virtual tour of the University of Tartu at virtualtour.ut.ee allows everyone to get acquainted with the university's teaching and research environment through 360-degree photos, which create a realistic picture of the university's everyday life and offer the opportunity to become a part of it. The Estonian and English virtual tour can be exciting for prospective students, the university's visitors and all others.
The technical solution of the previous virtual tour of the University of Tartu was completed in 2015, and at that time, it was unique in Europe. However, a rapidly evolving university and society require constant updating of materials. The new virtual tour is like a business card for the university, reflecting its innovation, world-class learning environment and research potential, and showcasing the different faculties, institutes and other university-related entities, such as student residences, museums and the library. The tour, which can be viewed on the computer or smart device, can be used to get acquainted with one's faculty, institute, unit, learning environment or other activities even before arriving at the university.
According to Pille-Riin Makilla, the project manager of the virtual tour, it was not easy to include all the uniqueness and scale of an international national university in one tour. "The buildings of the University of Tartu are not located on one single campus but in different parts of Tartu, as well as in Tallinn, Pärnu, Narva and Viljandi. It was also difficult to decide how to display all the information – by institute or by building. Several academic buildings house more than one institute or unit, and several institutes have more than one building. Finally, it was important to keep in mind what information prospective students and incoming visitors need most. The virtual tour is probably the largest in Europe, covering 40 buildings and over 160 locations in five cities," said Pille-Riin Makilla.
All 164 photos on the virtual tour are 360-degree images taken during teaching and research activities to better show everyday life at the university. Added value is provided by the descriptions attached to each location and links to university websites where one can find out more about a particular unit.
The greatest value of the new tour is its ease of use. The menu allows the visitor to navigate quickly between cities and places. Using the map interface, one can also see the locations of buildings and the distances between them. Particularly attentive visitors may also spot the university's mascot Tiksu during the tour.
The developer of the virtual tour is Procontent OÜ, which has created virtual tours for several other Estonian universities as well as Aalto University. Aalto University's virtual tour also won various awards.