Way back on December 12, 2005 a little endeavor created by a team of 12 creative Johns Hopkins students, a risk-taking admissions counselor, and a few talented web and marketing professionals was launched. This project was the initial incarnation of Hopkins Interactive, a new way of connecting with prospective students and providing them with authentic information about Hopkins and a transparent view of the Admissions process. The launch of this site was revolutionary for its time, and was all about providing access: access to current students providing honest answers; access to an actual Admissions counselor; access to unfiltered and direct information; and access to some fun. (Read about the initial launch of Hopkins Interactive in the first ever Hopkins Insider blog entry.)
Eleven months later on November 15, 2006, Hopkins Interactive was re- launched. This was a truly ambitious re-visioning of the H.I. site as previously we had just two pages of material that included 10 blogs, a message board, and some fun facts. Version 2.0 was much different, as the content expanded in a grand way, the design radically changed and improved, and the ability to interact with current students exponentially increased. All involved with the re-design and re-launch were overwhelmingly satisfied with the finished project. (Read about the re-launch of Hopkins Interactive, version 2.0 in this Hopkins Insider blog entry.)
The sign of a creative and talented crew is that they do not rest on their laurels after achieving a sense of success … and that is just what the team behind Hopkins Interactive did. Following the 2.0 re-launch, all involved began to think of better and more effective ways to present the Hopkins Interactive content and increase the level of interaction. Though it has taken us more than a year for version 3.0 to make its debut … the wait has been worth it.
So now March 22, 2008 will hold a place in History, not just as Admissions_Daniel’s 33rd birthday, but more importantly as the launch of Hopkins Interactive, VERSION 3.0. This Hopkins Insider entry is dedicated to the new features of this fantastic site.
At first glance, it seems that little has changed. The design and structure of the site is based on the re-visioning that took place for version 2.0. However, a closer examination of the front page reveals two brand new sections 04: @ HOPKINS & 05: VIDEOS. We will get to those sections soon. The other changes to the main page include brand new Polaroids of our 8 new freshmen, some new Polaroids of returning H.I. students, and a collection of new “did you know” fast facts. Remember keep refreshing to see all 22 Polaroids and over 40 fast facts.
Now let’s take a section-by-section look at the content and new features:
01 – STUDENT PROFILES
My favorite part of Hopkins Interactive, and in many ways the best place to navigate the site when trying to connect with our current students. Here you will find 22 student profiles that represent the best cross-section of the Hopkins undergraduate student body. We have re-organized the profiles main page by sorting by class year, but still you can go down the list and select profiles of students from your region of the country (or the world – yeah Tabitha), or from your academic area of interest. Each profile page has also been updated with new survey questions, new pictures, links to the students’ blogs, and an updated feature where you can ASK ANY STUDENT A QUESTION (just click on their pictures). So let’s say you are from Texas and may be interested in Public Health Studies – then click on Roxi’s profile, check out her profile, read her blog, and then ask her a question (or just provide her some feedback). The students love to chat with you all … so don’t forget to post on their personal discussion threads.
02 – BLOGS
The most popular section of Hopkins Interactive continues to be the Blogs, and there is no problem with that. Name another University site where you can find 11 student blogs, a shared Freshman blog co-written by 4 students, an Admissions blog, a special Guest Blog, a conglomeration blog, and oh yeah a new Video blog. I am constantly amazed at how enjoyable reading our student blogs can be (yes, I know I sound like a proud Papa). If you really want to know about the daily life of Hopkins students following the stories of these amazing students is one of the best paths. Every once and a while we will update the “Recent Entries” column on the left so you infrequent visitors will be able to find some of the more popular or unique blog entries. And don’t forget, all of the content and design of the blogs is created by our volunteer students – they are not paid and they are not told what to write about — just like Lauren’s blog “Wish You Were Here.”
03 – MESSAGE BOARDS
Hopkins Interactive is interactive primarily through the message boards. The Hopkins Forums are your chance to ask any question you might have about life and learning at Hopkins. Admissions_Daniel (me) and the 22 students are available 24/7 (ok, that is a bit on an exaggeration) to answer your questions. Ask Admissions, ask the current students, get information on student life, and answers to everything academic. The great part of the message boards is that the answers and conversations stay forever, so even if you don’t have an original question, you can get more information than you could imagine by spending some time scrolling through the forums.
What’s New with the Message Boards … how about:
- Parents’ Corner: tell your parents that we have created a forum for them to ask their own questions, and we have recruited current Hopkins parents to respond.
- Off-Topic Discussion: get to know the Hopkins students even more through random “favorites” threads, some fun games, and even a few quizzes. Not everything has to be so serious.
- Featured Forum Topics: check back regularly as we highlight the topic discussions of the past few weeks.
04 – @ HOPKINS
One of our two new section, @ HOPKINS is an expansion of our old Hopkins 360 section. Once again you will find our Virtually Here section with virtual tours and webcams, our News Links section that links you to a variety of Hopkins news sources, our fun Top 10 lists, and the Hopkins Speak guide to JHU lingo. As well, the HOPKINS CRIBS page still exists, and is about to go through a complete update in the next couple of week – with a lot more videos.
The name change is not the only update to this section, as we launch two brand new pages too. First is the “How To” Hopkins page. As we state on the site, the How To Hopkins section is your “cheat sheet to all aspects of Johns Hopkins life, both social and academic.” Here the students have compiled interesting entries that provide suggestions, advice, and to-do lists on Hopkins-related topics like how to explore Baltimore, how to avoid the freshman 15, how to select a major, and how to find a Research position. In the coming weeks and months we will be adding new entries, and if you check out the section you can email us with your suggestions. (Make sure to check out the “How To” … Experience Baltimore entry for some interesting videos.)
The other new page is all about our Blue Jay Buffet blog. This is definitely the section to check out on a weekly basis so you can stay up-to-date with our Parent Blogs, Alumni Blogs, Mascot Blogs, Engineering News Briefs, and the This Month at Hopkins entries.
05 – VIDEOS
This is the section of the new Hopkins Interactive that I have the most interest in, as I am impressed with the content we have at this time, but am even more excited when I think about what this site will be like in a year. The new Videos page provides you with links to an array of videos that exist throughout the many pages of the full Johns Hopkins University web network. Enjoy watching these videos, but consider them just the teaser for the main part of this new section … the Hopkins Interactive Video Blog. The students have been hard at work on a variety of online (viral?) videos that show you the world of Hopkins. We hope you have enjoyed these early parlays into the world of online video, and we promise to keep improving. If you haven’t been watching the Video Blog entries, then I share with you my favorite video to date, to encourage you to check out our current, past, and future projects:
06 – CHAT WITH US
Here we have made the fewest changes, because in many ways this area is still under construction and contemplation. Over the years we have had a mixed experience with online chats, so the team and I are re-thinking the ideas of chats in the future. Stay tuned.
In the mean time, we have added a great way to connect with the Hopkins Interactive team … FACEBOOK. Read all about the JHU Facebook group here, and check out this former Hopkins Insider blog entry about the launch of the Facebook group.
Happy exploring Hopkins Interactive version 3.0, and as always leave your feedback. Maybe your suggestions will be incorporated in H.I., v. 4.0.