Illinois State University’s IT community gathered Tuesday to share news about their latest projects and pitch ways to break down barriers to broader collaboration across campus.
More than 100 staff and faculty attended the Continuous Improvement in Technology (CIT) Conference at the State Farm Hall of Business. Attendees chose from 24 different sessions, ranging from discussions about collaboration and project management, to supporting 3-D printers and promoting accessible web design. Apple and Microsoft also presented.
In his keynote remarks during the IT News session, President Larry Dietz shared his past experiences working on big, complicated system integration projects at other campuses.
While underway, such projects can disrupt student recruitment and retention, Dietz said. But Illinois State managed to recruit three straight large—even record-breaking—freshman classes from 2014–2016 despite recently completing its own massive IT upgrade, called LEAPForward.
“There is probably no group that is more productive and less recognized than this group,” Dietz told CIT attendees. “What you do day in and day out is very, very important to this University.”
Several CIT sessions focused on the need for more cross-campus IT collaboration.
Charles Edamala, the new associate vice president and chief technology officer in Administrative Technologies (AT), told attendees that breaking through associative boundaries—led by a clear strategic vision— was essential for Illinois State to stay competitive and meet its goals. He cited the “Medici Effect,” a reference to the wealthy Italian family that brought together thinkers from across disciplines who eventually sparked the Renaissance. (It’s also a book of the same name.)
“They brought these artists together and magic started to happen,” said Edamala. “There is some magic happening here too, and we need to jump on top of it and make it even better.”
Paul Unsbee on IT collaboration "We are stronger together than we are apart. Collaboration key to solve problems." #ISUCIT
— ISU IT Help (@ISUITHelp) August 2, 2016
Campus leaders shared several project updates during IT News:
- Illinois State’s classroom clickers provider has made changes affecting students and faculty for the fall semester, introducing cloud-based technology and a subscription model. The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) is ready to field questions.
- Wireless Internet upgrades have been completed in residence halls and are 80 percent completed elsewhere on campus. Phase 3 of the campus wireless project will begin next month, with Fell Hall and Felmley Annex among the few buildings still to go.
- Two new @ISUITHelp social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter will share alerts, technology tips, and more with student, faculty, and staff followers. The social media outreach is an extension of ITHelp.IllinoisState.edu, ISU’s centralized IT support portal.
Several recently completed projects can serve as a “blueprint” for the type of innovative collaboration Edamala described, said Arturo Ramirez, director of Web and Interactive Technologies (WEB). AT, WEB, and Enrollment Management and Academic Services recently collaborated on a new system for faculty to track at-risk students and offer academic support.
Similar cross-campus projects are now making it easier for students to apply for majors and minors, and to keep the University’s credit card transactions compliant, Ramirez said.
“All of these efforts were intense collaborations between units,” said Ramirez.
CIT is co-sponsored by Administrative Technologies and the Office of Academic Technologies. It’s hosted by the College of Business.