As families across New York City finalize their school preferences in time for the end of this year’s middle and high school application periods on Friday, December 14, 2018, the NYC Department of Education has unveiled a new way for City families to discover, visit, and learn more about some of the City’s public schools without ever having to leave the comfort of home.

Thanks to a pilot project created in partnership with City students, teachers, and staff members, families can access virtual tours of select public middle and high schools, anytime and anywhere, from any internet-connected smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Virtual school tours, which have been used by many colleges in recent years, provide access to interactive 360° panoramic photos, videos, student interviews, and in some cases, digital tour guides, that can help students and families gain a better understanding about their programs of interest.

Virtual Tour Excelsior Prep Screen Shot - Band

This year, students and families will be able to “visit” the following seven DOE schools across the City:

Screenshot of a Virtual Tour of Excelsior Prep in Queens. This particular shot features the school's athletic field.

Some of our virtual tours, like this one from Excelsior Prep in Queens, provide on-screen captions in multiple languages.

As part of this pilot, the DOE is testing three different approaches to creating virtual tours. Some of our seven tours feature detailed narration, while others focus more on visuals. Some offer interactive, menu-based, click-through experiences that allow users to, for example, jump straight to a school pool or zoom in on hallway murals. Other tours offer play-through 360° videos that immerse viewers in student-filled classrooms, dance electives, and other activities. Some tours even feature interviews with select students about their school-based experiences. All seven tours feature captions and/or narration in languages other than English.

Now that our tours are live, we are seeking feedback from families and schools to learn which of our virtual tours are the most helpful and appealing. We’d love to hear from you, so please fill out this quick survey to share your thoughts about our seven virtual tours, and let us know what you would like to see in future tours!

Screenshot from the Bronx Lab School's Virtual Tour. This particular panoramic screenshot is of the school's auditorium

The Bronx Lab School’s virtual tour features a digital guide (bottom right) who provides details about the school’s facilities and programs.

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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