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Virtual Open House Proves a Big Hit

Hits came from Belgium, Russia, China, and quite surprisingly Iran, along with the thousands from Israel. The occasion was the first virtual open house for an Israeli university.

Conducted as a synchronous Website by the University this past April, the open house allowed visitors to click on a virtual tour of the campus, ask a department head a question and receive an answer within a few minutes, chat in any of several forums devoted to specific topics, and hear video talks by the University’s President, Rector, and Dean of Students. The options available enabled the virtual visitor to learn more about requirements and student life than was possible during the physical open houses conducted in the past.

The response was so good that the University has left the site on the Web:

“There was feeling of doing something pioneering, so there was pride in what we accomplished,” said Dr. Tamar Almog, Head of the University’s Unit for E-Learning, who conceived of the innovative open house and took part in its operation.
The accomplishments were both in the appeal and utility of the site, which led to twice as many applicants to the University compared to a regular day, and in the upgrading of the University's “virtual look.” The University’s engineering-oriented sister institution down the road, the Technion, even inquired about the workings of the site. Yoram, a commercial international site, expressed enthusiasm, as well as a desire for a link to the open-house site. The University’s Computing Division was responsible for the successful technology.

Deputy Rector Prof. David Farragi, a statistician, kept track of the statistics. The most popular forum had to do with the general B.A. degree. The forums, as Almog explained, were filtered, but no chat was deleted so far as she knows. The questions and answers posted on the various forums, she added, remain on the site, as they can be assembled to serve as FAQ (frequently asked questions) for future “visitors.”

The most active hour of the day for forums was between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Faculties of Law and Social Sciences received the most inquiries. The most visitors online at the same time numbered 155.
The forums for each unit, Almog said, “formed a kind of community. Students and potential students even answered one another, not just the deans, department heads, and administrative assistants.”

She evinced the same tone of satisfaction in defining the event as “an internal happening,” explaining that “academic and administrative staff members got to know one another” during pre-open house training sessions on how to conduct a forum. Many stayed answering questions until late at night on the day of the open house itself; others sent replies from their home computers.
“Even if the University did not recruit a single student,” she continued, “we profited by coming together.” In the event, thousands of registration kits were mailed out in response to requests by potential applicants.

Almog, who holds the professional rank of Senior Teacher in the Education Faculty, conducts a kind of forum for her students in the courses she teaches that combine education and technology. She provides her students with a complete class list, so that they can email one another, as well as her. She gives them the option of printing out articles and presentations at home or in their dorm room that have to be read for the course.

The educator noted that the University now offers some 2,000 computer-aided courses at one level or another of technology, from course readings to relevant movies to a limited but growing number of courses devised entirely as online offerings. The last replaces frontal lectures and enables students to learn by themselves from recorded talks and other, Internet-based audio-visual aids.

The time was ripe, she felt, to offer the public a virtual open house of the University. Surfers and visitors gained an impression not only of the University itself but also of a computer-based courses. Although Almog admits that it is difficult to quantify the success of this pilot venture, as she referred to it, there seems little question of her own satisfaction with the outcome.


In This Issue:

President’s Focus - Battling Unjust Resolutions

Prof. Azy Barak’s SAHAR Offers a Vital Virtual Shoulder to Those with Nowhere Else to Turn

University Joins War on Drugs,
Campaign Is Integral to Interdisciplinary Clinical Center’s Service

Kidma Project Helps Students Face Their Identities

University Will Not Be Silent in Face of UK Boycott

Anat Liberman Is New External Relations Head

Prof. Majid Al-Haj to Be New Dean of Research

Prof. Sophia Menache – New Dean of Graduate Studies

Prof. Menachem Mor—Dean of Humanities

Virtual Open House Proves a Big Hit

Students Have an Address for Complaints: Professor Schatzker, Their Ombudsman

Computer Science and Occupational Therapy Team Up for Virtual Reality Conference
Student Develops Innovative Technology to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress

Giora Lehavi: His Job Is to Check on Quality Management, and Other Standards

University’s Sports Teams Prove a Winner in More Ways than One

Student Publishes His Road to Wisdom

Honors and Awards

Mother and Son—in utero—Studied Hebrew at University’s Summer Ulpan

University’s China Connection Continues

Unique Algorithm Enables Better Mobile Wireless Communication




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