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Fall CITx introduces VR/XR technology to Illinois State staff

Illinois State staff member uses VR

Illinois State University Information Technology (IT) professionals met in the State Farm Hall of Business on December 6, 2019, for networking and education opportunities at the fall Continuous Improvement in Technology Extension (CITx) conference. 

CITx is a half-day conference that sprung from the full-day CIT conference held each summer since 2013. CIT brings Illinois State’s over 200 IT professionals together to learn about upcoming projects and to discover collaboration opportunities. 

The conference began with a networking breakfast before transitioning into a cross-campus IT news update. CITx’s keynote speaker was Roy Magnuson, assistant professor of music theory and composition in the School of Music. Magnuson has spent the past two years developing solsticeVR, a music composition program for virtual reality (VR) devices. The program allows users to manipulate up to 60 sound samples at one time to create their own music. 

“I wanted to make something childlike and playful,” Magnuson said. 

Assistant Professor Roy Magnuson speaks to the CITx attendees.

Magnuson said he hopes to release the program to a wider audience soon. His project is one example of how Illinois State is looking to get more into the virtual and expanded reality (XR) space. Illinois State is looking to launch XR @ ISU, which are spaces that will allow the Illinois State community to experiment with VR/XR devices. The Digital Innovation, Graphics, and Gaming Studio (DIGGS) in Julian Hall was created with these initiatives in mind. 

“A space like the XR @ ISU labs are necessary to show people what is possible now, and what will be possible soon,” Magnuson said. 

Following Magnuson’s talk, staff from across campus shared updates from their units. Here are some of the highlights: 

  • Redbird Life, the student engagement portal launched this fall by the Division of Student Affairs, has already seen heavy use by organizations on campus.  
  • Redbird Esports is ready to launch through the Division of Student Affairs in fall 2020. More details to come soon! DIGGS will continue to support the program as new spaces are being created. 
  • Illinois State University will offer free Adobe Creative Cloud licenses for current students starting in January. 
  • The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology has successfully moved to Williams Hall, with no disruption of service for ReggieNet reported. 
  • The 2019 TechQual IT customer satisfaction survey results were presented, with some tools and topics having a more favorable response than previous years and some losing ground. The TechQual feedback is used each year to help guide the coming year’s continuous improvement projects.  

After IT news, the group split into four Redbirds of a Feather discussion groups. Topics included preparing for career opportunities, Apple Enterprise Management, and ways to leverage identity data and integrations to simplify projects. Additionally, there was an opportunity for conference attendees to try our VR devices at the Center for Visual Arts.  

CIT planning committee member and IT News emcee Jeff Grabb said he was pleased to host another successful CITx in the State Farm Hall of Business. 

“We had a really great day and a really great turn out for this fall edition of CITx,” said Grabb, who serves as the executive director of technology and building services for the College of Business. “The diversity of topics and news we covered demonstrates the importance of technology staff and technology decision holders getting together to communicate and collaborate about ways in which we can best serve the University community. There are many facets to what we do and taking some time to acknowledge the big picture helps to keep us all moving in the same direction.” 

CITx is sponsored by Administrative Technologies, the Office of Academic Technologies, TechZone, Student Affairs IT, and the College of Business. 

If you are interested in assisting the committee, email isucit@IllinoisState.edu. Learn more at CIT.IllinoisState.edu. 

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