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What CAVEA can do for you

How MSU Denver’s immersive multimedia theater and decision-making venue helps optimize learning and collaboration.

By Lindsey Coulter

October 15, 2018

CAVEA interiorTechnology can get a bad rap. Innovations are often characterized as weakening social bonds or obscuring meaningful conversations, but Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Advanced Visualization and Experiential Analysis does the exact opposite.

CAVEA, part of MSU Denver’s Office of University Effectiveness, comprises both a physical theater in the Jordan Student Success Building and a set of services provided by a dedicated events production and AV/IT staff. Since opening, the space has hosted film debuts, philosophy lectures, government work groups, and a host of other public and private events for University faculty, staff, students and the broader community.

“We are in service to the campus and we also have external clients,” said Sarah Harman, executive director of the Office of University Effectiveness. “That helps build relationships, whether it is with the future employers of our fantastic, educated students or with future partners or investors.”

But perhaps what makes CAVEA most unique is the way technology functions to bring people together to support complex conversations and decision-making. Both the space itself and what happens within prove that technology can be a valuable asset in facilitating good, old-fashioned communication.

Conversation and connection

Regardless of the client or audience, CAVEA staff members focus first on the human side of decision-making — before integrating the most complex available technology. This helps clients define their goals or concerns to determine the most productive use of resources.

“We see the greatest success and engagement starting from a relationship first,” said Blair Quiring, CAVEA office and events manager. “We also see that, in starting from that interpersonal connection, we develop trust with our clients.”

All the bells and whistles

In addition to being a state-of-the-art visualization theater, CAVEA is also a dream work space. Approximately 500 square feet of whiteboard space allow individuals and groups to concurrently break down different questions or topics, while cutting-edge technologies support global video feeds. This is particularly valuable for open public-process events that require video documentation, live streaming or archiving.

CAVEA interior“We know that data visualization and imagery can help people learn and discuss complicated topics more easily,” Quiring said. “Because the physical venue is designed to have a lot of visualization, we can allow people to interact with information and get to the crux of their conversation.”

Despite being filled with the latest and greatest technologies, however, there’s an aspect to CAVEA that is simply comfortable.

“I heard someone say that when they walked in they felt surrounded and hugged by technology, and I loved that response,” Harman said. “To feel comfortable, grounded and secure in a space when you’re about to have a complicated or potentially tense conversation is not to be underestimated.”

Supporting decision-making and dialogue

While CAVEA can support many types of events, the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking data dashboard roll-out in 2017 is a great example of an organization making strategic use of this resource.

CAVEA helped the organization, which includes several MSU Denver faculty members, connect simultaneously to four other locations across the state via overhead digital projectors and video teleconferencing to facilitate a multi-stakeholder conversation in which information was mutually shared, received, debated and considered.

“The client structured that meeting to give each location the opportunity to present certain portions of the program, so it had that integrated, collaborative feel,” Harman said.

External company Deep Space Predictive also found the intimacy and functionality of the space helpful, Harman said. In partnership with the Office of Sponsored Research and Projects, the research group held a three-day brainstorming session in the CAVEA earlier this year. The group included international participants, so maximizing members’ time together was key. The company worked extensively with the CAVEA team to maximize time in the space, and members said they looked forward to future opportunities to work with MSU Denver.

Integrate CAVEA services into your decision-making processes

Requesting an event begins by simply clicking the “Request Your Event” button on the CAVEA website. Visitors are then prompted to provide details about planning status, anticipated audience, potential technology requirements, space needs and other details. Staff generally respond within one business day.

If learning more about CAVEA has inspired you to think about ways the space and staff can help support your decision-making or bring a new instructional element to your courses, reach out to CAVEA staff to explore this unique resource.

“We are a great location for telling the MSU Denver story,” Harman said.

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