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UAA shows off programs virtually

The University of Alaska Anchorage logo on campus. (KTUU)
The University of Alaska Anchorage logo on campus. (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 7:21 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Prospective high school students were shown around some of the programs and other offerings at the University Alaska Anchorage on Wednesday, and they didn’t even have to leave their homes to do it. Like many other events, UAA’s Academic Preview Day has gone virtual.

Executive Director of Admissions Cassie Keefer explained that they’re using a new type of video chat service to pull it off called Remo. It’s about as neat as video chat apps get nowadays.

During Academic Preview Day, students attended a virtual conference center. After a presentation, students were able to access a number of different chat rooms that look like an animated floor plan. In the rooms, there are tables with chairs where user icons go, representing the different tables.

A look at the layout for the University of Alaska Anchorage's virtual Academic Preview.
A look at the layout for the University of Alaska Anchorage's virtual Academic Preview.(UAA)

It’s like Zoom, except you can pick and choose which meetings you want to go to. Inside, students can chat with professors and other faculty about what programs are offered and ask questions either over video or through a chat function.

Keefer feels there are some benefits to doing the event this way that they didn’t foresee, like parent involvement.

"We’re able to reach families maybe in ways that we weren’t before. You know just because taking off work to come to an academic preview day wasn’t always something that a family could do, but now they can be leaving five minutes before, hopping on, and engaging in this remote world,” she said.

As innovative and convenient as it is, Keefer said there were about 200 students registered for the virtual Academic Preview. Last year, the original in-person version had about 300 students registered, she said.

However, she said a larger proportion of the students in attendance were from out of state.

“I believe it’s about a fifth or a fourth of these students that are registered, registered from out of state," she said, "So that is more than we would normally see at a preview day. We usually focus on the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas for our preview day oftentimes busing students in from the local high schools so we have definitely expanded our reach this year.”

Keefer said positive feedback from students was received about this and other virtual events. After the pandemic is over, she said she can imagine these methods could still be useful.

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