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UTCD ’98 gets “high tech and personal” with accepted freshman applicants

The University of Texas at Austin this week begins sending out a “high-tech and personal” welcome to each of its more than 11,000 accepted freshman applicants in the form of a Web-based CD-ROM aimed at putting a human face on its sprawling campus.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin this week begins sending out a “high-tech and personal” welcome to each of its more than 11,000 accepted freshman applicants in the form of a Web-based CD-ROM aimed at putting a human face on its sprawling campus.

Started as a pilot project last year, this year’s UTCD ’98 features a variety of short videos of students talking about their own experiences and giving advice on how to get the most out of college years. In addition, audio clips spotlight selected faculty members who offer insights about the wide range of opportunities available throughout the campus. UT Austin’s new president, Larry R. Faulkner, and Student Government President Marlen Whitley are featured in personal video spots inviting prospective freshmen to the University.

“The CD format gives us great freedom to let the entire campus community tell the UT story,” said Liz Kline, project manager for UTCD ’98. “We’ve tried to do it in a warm, engaging way, using a format and a technology with which high school seniors would feel comfortable. This little silver disk contains more than 3,500 Web pages and dozens of audio and video clips. It has a virtual reality tour of the campus. If we tried to send out that much information on paper and videotapes, it probably would weigh more than 100 pounds.”UTCD ’98 harvests Web pages from UT Austin’s Web site, one of the largest university Web sites in the world. With the cooperation of departments throughout the campus, more than 200 people participated in the project to provide versions of their Web pages targeted at prospective freshmen. The digital productions staff in the Center for Instructional Technology managed the project, which took about seven months to complete. They and other staff members from Academic Computing and Instructional Technology Services (ACITS) and Administrative Computing Services, provided the technical and digital design expertise to produce the CD.

Other members of the UTCD team, working with the Office of Admissions, wrote and assembled Web pages on the University’s history, the city of Austin and the region, as well as a new student checklist. This section guides prospective students through the enrollment process, finding a place to live, summer orientation and other events, budgeting and finances, and services. It concludes with 17 tips UT Austin seniors wish they had known when they were freshmen.

UTCD ’98 uses Netscape Navigator to display its information and Apple QuickTime for video and audio. The latest versions of both are included on the CD and can be installed on the student’s computer if needed.

“With its seamless integration of so much content, UTCD ’98 represents an innovative use of Netscape 4.04 to create a media-rich, Web-enhanced CD-ROM. We have not seen another Web CD project of this scale and scope, and we’re proud that UT chose Netscape as the underlying engine,” commented Diana Henneberry Gray, program manager of education marketing at Netscape Communications Corp.

“Apple QuickTime is the standard for digital video, bringing the highest-quality video and virtual reality content to any CD-ROM or Web page,” said Clent Richardson, senior director of worldwide developer relations at Apple Computer Inc. “UT Austin’s new Web hybrid CD-ROM delivers a compelling interactive experience built on the power and cross-platform compatibility of QuickTime.”

“We are all very proud of UTCD ’98. It represents the University’s commitment to excellence in all endeavors, and it demonstrates how technology can be used to communicate in new ways. I knew we had something of great value here when current students began remarking they wished they had a UTCD when they were freshmen,” said Thomas F. Edgar, associate vice president for Academic Computing and Instructional Technology Services. ACITS, along with Administrative Computing Services and the Office of Admissions, sponsored the project.

For additional information, contact UTCD ’98 Project Manager Liz Kline at (512) 475-9303, or via e-mail at lizkline@mail.utexas.edu.

UTCD ’98 also is available on the Web, at http://www.utexas.edu/utcd/.