Multimedia Review: The Haas Interactive Tour

by Jin Chyung

The Haas CD-ROM offers a virtual tour of Haas to every prospective Haas applicant and inquiring mind. It is a part of the Haas application packet which is sent out to everyone who requests an application at no charge. The first version was released in 1995 and the second version was released just one month ago. I reviewed the 1996 version for this multimedia review.

The goal of the Haas Interactive Tour (HIT) is to market Haas' technology focus to prospective MBA applicants. Approximately half of the application pool reviews the CD-ROM. This was a project generated by students and produced completely in-house. From an admissions perspective, the benefits are tremendous:

From a technology and user perspective, the reviews are mixed.

While other schools offer the same dull brochures to showcase their programs, HIT guides us through the various aspects of the MBA program using video clips, sound track and pictures. The look and feel of the CD is impressive and meets the goal of showcasing our school's strength in the high-technology market. The music and visual effects of the introduction sets the stage for a "Star Wars" type of show.

The CD-ROM is highly successful in delivering content to users. Information is clearly displayed and the user can click on any area of interest in which ever order he/she wants. When one is ready to exit the program, a list of relevant telephone numbers a nd e-mail addresses appears on the screen. I found this list to be most helpful to a prospective applicant. Because the nature of a CD-ROM allows users to browse their areas of interest it can go into more depth than the brochure. I found the community re lations section to be much longer and more detailed than in the brochure. It was also much more meaningful to hear the VP of Community Relations, Laura Keresty, talk about student involvement and see the pictures from actual events.

It's also interactive, fun and easy to use. Instead of reading about the faculty, Dean Russell Winer actually describes the curriculum and introduces the faculty members. In the Alumni section, one has the option of listening to up to six Haas graduates w ho are now top executives speak on issues of management. Under Careers, we get a virtual tour of BrewCity, a brewery business started by Clark Omhold, MBA 95, in his entrepreneurship class while at Haas. The CD-ROM technology allows us to "walk" through t he brewery and also hear Clark's testimony on his experience building a start-up. Most importantly, HIT is easy to use. At any point in the tour, we can exit or return to the main menu. It's fast and seamless.

Unfortunately, HIT misses many opportunities available to CDs. A CD-ROM can be and should be very interactive. Although HIT incorporates video into several areas, about 80% of the information is delivered through pictures and sound, not video. This weakne ss allows users to see ourselves as passive recipients of information, not active seekers of information. Listening to the professional narrator's voice got to be quite mundane by the end of the tour. A different speaker for each section would have provid ed more variety.

There is also much duplication in content between the catalog and CD. About half the information is exactly the same as in the catalog. This is not all negative since many applicants do not bother reading the text, however, HIT once again misses an opport unity to use this interactive media to present information in a new way.

Surprisingly, the 1996 version of HIT is inferior to the pilot version. It contains about 10% less volume, little new content and at least one bug.

The Haas Interactive Tour meets its goals in marketing Haas' technology focus to prospective students, however, it fails to optimize the technology of a CD-ROM.

The Haas School of Business is trying to decide whether or not it should continue with the CD-ROM for next year, and instead develop an on-line version of the Haas Interactive Tour tailored to prospective students. The failures of the second version were mainly due to lack of available programming talent and money. An on-line version would alleviate these problems since HTML is a widely available resource here at Haas.

An on-line version could provide more content and increase accessibility. The development team would not have problems finding HTML skills. the new material that was supposed to be incorporated into the second version could be incorporated into the on-line version because lack of programming skills would not be an issue. Also, as the world wide web is accessible almost world-wide, potential applicants would have access without having to wait for an application packet. In fact, even those who are not seriously considering applying would have access to HIT on-line. This is the least expensive and most effective way of marketing the Haas School of Business in this technology saavy world.