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Taking a Stitch With Teaching

By Dr. Candace McGregor

McGregor quiltI love quilting! I spend hundreds of hours dreaming, planning, shopping, designing, measuring, calculating, cutting, and connecting. I look at what others do, follow the experts, seek advice, follow my gut, try, fail and try again.

I also love teaching! I spend hundreds of hours doing exactly the same tasks!

The more I quilt, the more I teach, the more the two loves of my life are connected. Each is filled with joy, creativity, collaboration, individual achievement, hard work, frustration, self criticism, failure, embarrassment, realization, and the elation that something you created uniquely for another was embraced as a part of their life experience.

And technology plays an integral role in both. Quilters daily see new tools, refinements to old ones, and an abundance of gadgets promising to revolutionize the industry. We have come a long way from that pioneer woman in the sod house hand stitching each seam to my digitized long-arm quilter with computerized design stitcher. Just as the classroom slate is now an interactive whiteboard board, the one-room schoolhouse is globally connected. But the technology, for both passions, is only effective if driven by the human heart and hand.

At the soul of both quilting and teaching, we see the commonalities.
We learn by doing–
The work creates a state of flow–
Each requires the intimacy of intellect, emotions and the body–
Both will cause reflective and critical self feedback–
The results are an unrivaled joy.

Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence

By Patrick Lowenthal and Joni Dunlap

Patrick Lowenthal

Dr. Patrick Lowenthal

To be truly effective, online learning must facilitate the social process of learning. This involves providing space and opportunities for students and faculty to engage in social activities. Although learning management systems offer several tools that support social learning and student engagement, the scope, structure, and functionality of those tools can inhibit and restrain just-in-time social connections and interactions. In this teaching tip, we describe our use of Twitter to encourage freeflowing just-in-time interactions and how these interactions can enhance social presence in online courses. We then describe instructional benefits of Twitter, and conclude with guidelines for incorporating Twitter in online courses.
Joanna C. Dunlap PhD is an associate professor of learning design and technology in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. Joni’s teaching and research interests focus on the use of sociocultural instructional approaches to enhance students’ learning and experience in postsecondary settings. Recently her work in this area has revolved around digital / online teaching and learning, creative design practices, and faculty development. Email:
Read the full article online

Are you Curious about the EDTECH 513 Multimedia course?

By: Diane Hall, Ed.D.

Diane Hall

Dr. Diane Hall

Have you been curious about the EDTECH 513 Multimedia course? Is it for you? I highly recommend it, not just because I have taught it many semesters, but because it is a course that I wish had been available when I was earning my degrees. You get to be creative and craft projects you can use in your own classrooms or jobs.

Dr. Barbara Schroeder has done a great job designing the course and tweaks it each semester to keep it fresh and relevant. You will learn how to apply the principles of multimedia learning to your projects. There are meaningful class discussions about the principles as well.

All the multimedia tools used are either free or have a free trial. This is nice because you learn inexpensive ways to use multimedia, which can be just as effective in e-learning as the pricier counterparts.

The text for this course is one of the best I have seen. Authors Clark and Mayer do a good job of presenting multimedia principles in a clear and engaging way. This is not a “dry” text. It offers practical suggestions with research to back them up.  Take a look: e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning, 3rd Edition

Course Projects:

  • Sketchnotes – a fun way to create a visual story by using drawings or apps. (Example)
  • Haiku Deck – a powerful, yet simple presentation tool that you could use with your students. (Example)
  • Narrated Presentation – a collaborative presentation using Google Slides or other presentation software. (Example)
  • Digital Story – using a combination of narration, graphics, and video to teach a lesson. (Example)
  • Worked Example – using a screen recording tool of your choice to make a tutorial (preferably one that you can use in your classroom).  (Example)

We hope to see you in EDTECH 513 Multimedia!

The Most Incredibly Fun Course You Will Ever Take- EdTech 502

Lora Evanouski

Lora Evanouski


As an instructor, I often get questions about what exactly is EdTech 502. I immediately reply, “The most incredibly fun course you will ever take!”  You will locate, retrieve, and evaluate information found on the Internet as well as design and produce instructional web pages using a combination of software and HTML5/XHTML/CSS.  You will apply appropriate instructional strategies and models to the design of digital curriculum. In essence, you will learn the basics of how to create educational websites using HTML/CSS and manipulate images through Photoshop.

In this course, you will build 11 websites. We start with a very basic site called plain 502 and culminate your learning with a WebQuest. The WebQuest applies all learned concepts from the entire course. You learn best practices of delivering online content such as linking within your site, adding documents available for downloads, using lists to organize content, and web accessibility or how to structure a website so a screen reader can process the content. You will also learn fantastic instructional methods of creating/delivering content such as the jigsaw method, virtual field trips, webquest, and mobile learning.

Here are some specifics about the course:

  • Dreamweaver is our tool to create websites
  • We have a server that is used to house all your artifacts but you can use your own, and that is encouraged for those that reside outside of the US
  • Videos, Code Academy and books are used for learning – so you learn by doing!
  • The curriculum is “spiraled” so after you learn a concept, you will apply it again and again
  • We meet synchronously as a class throughout the semester as needed in either Adobe Connect or Google Meet.  The Adobe Connect meeting is recorded and then added into a discussion post in our class so all can access if you can’t attend the meeting. Here is a recording of a meeting with the spring 18 students: (The audio/video lasts 1 hour and 44 min.)


  • The books can be found online through BSU/Albertsons Library
  • Here is the course syllabus with textbooks listed.
  • The Non-Designer book can be purchased through Amazon or at our bookstore
  • If you can’t find the 4th edition, the 3rd edition will work perfectly
  • Code Academy is free and interactive – you earn badges for learning
  • Adobe has student pricing for Dreamweaver and Photoshop – just $19.99 a month, all you need is your student ID and email
  • 1-1 meetings through Google Meet are commonplace and are encouraged!
  • If you are not familiar with Dreamweaver and Photoshop, expect to spend more time learning in the first month of class
  • Online learning in general – set up a time schedule that you sit down and learn. Time management is important.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your assignments – remember we are using technology

Here’s some cool designs by previous EdTech 502 students:

Elementary Social Entrepreneurship: A Perfect STEAM Lesson

Jackie Gerstein photo

Dr. Jackie Gerstein


I am completing a social entrepreneurship unit with my gifted students, grades 2nd through 5th. It was one of my favorite units . . . ever, and from their reactions, I believe it was one of theirs, too. I call it a perfect STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) unit. The first part of this post explains some of the rationale for this project, and the second part describes the unit, itself.

Why a Unit on Social Entrepreneurship

First, I wanted my learners, who are from lower income families, to develop both an entrepreneur mindset and entrepreneur skills along with the creativity and innovation that comes with these skills.

Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy. Because entrepreneurship can, and should, promote economic opportunity, it can serve as an agent of social justice. Furthermore, entrepreneurship has historically spurred minorities, women and immigrants to create better lives for themselves and their families.  (Why Schools Should Teach Entrepreneurship)

Second, not only did I want my learners to gain entrepreneur skills, I wanted them to experience the benefits of starting a company in order to raise money to give to a “cause” also known as a form of social entrepreneurship.

Not every child is temperamentally suited to be a social entrepreneur. Not every child is suited to be a scientist, mathematician, or artist. But elementary school-age kids do have the natural curiosity, imagination, drive, and ability to come up with innovative ways to change the world for the better. By exposing our kids to a variety of disciplines, including social entrepreneurship, we are teaching them they have what it takes to “be the change.” One well-known expert on social entrepreneurship, David Bornstein, puts it this way: Once an individual has experienced the power of social entrepreneurship, he or she will “never go back to being a passive actor in society.” (Young Kids Need to Learn About Social Entrepreneurship)

Third, this unit met my own criteria for an effective and powerful unit:

  • Instructional challenges are hands-on, experiential, and naturally engaging for learners.
  • Learning tasks are authentic, relevant, and promote life skills outside of the formal classroom.
  • The challenges are designed to be novel, and create excitement and joy for learners.
  • Learner choice and voice are valued.
  • Lessons address cross curricular standards. They are interdisciplinary (like life) where multiple, cross-curricular content areas are integrated into the instructional activities.
  • Learning activities get learners interested in and excited about a broad array of topics especially in the areas of science, engineering, math, language arts, and the arts.
  • Communication, collaboration, and problem solving are built into the learning process.
  • Reading and writing are integrated into the learning activities in the form of fun, interesting books and stories, and writing stories, narratives, journalistic reports.
  • Educational technology is incorporated with a focus on assisting with the learning activities not to learn technology just for the sake of learning it.
  • There is a natural building of social emotional skills – tolerance for frustration, expression of needs, working as a team.

Schedule of Learning Activities

Here was the schedule of learning activities I used for this unit:

  •  Introduction
    • Video
    • Online Games
    • Kidpreneurs
  • Market Survey – Google Form
  • Analyzing Results, Deciding of Products, Testing Products
  • Expense Sheet – Expenses and Assets
  • Business Plan
  • Promotional Flyer
  • Sales and Record Sheet


Video. Learners were introduced to entrepreneurship with the following video:

Read the rest of this topic …

Take a Technology Adventure: Try a New Tool Today

Dr. Barbara Schroeder

Dr. Barbara Schroeder


I’m starting a new tradition–testing and working with a new technology tool every Tuesday. This will give me the opportunity to stay abreast of current trends in educational technology, helping me to be more selective with tools I decide to use in my online teaching. And, of course, this will inform my readers of the ways they might use these technologies.

This week, I’ve decided to explore MailChimp. My friend and co-host of the Cool Teacher Show, Dr. Chris Haskell, has been preaching the merits of MailChimp for years. He recommended this tool for teachers, so they could easily stay connected with parents through a sophisticated emailing tool that simplifies the creation and sending of newsletters.

However, I remained unconvinced–after all, don’t we already have powerful email tools? What would MailChimp offer that traditional email clients don’t? But, after seeing how MailChimp can create an email campaign (think class or school newsletters) along with detailed reports, my opinions quickly changed.

What is MailChimp?
mail chimpFirst of all, MailChimp is an email service provider (ESP) that offers a free plan (called “Forever Free”) that would meet the needs of most teachers. This plan allows the sending of 12,000 total emails per month up to 2,000 subscribers. (MailChimp calls your email recipients “subscribers,” and your mailings “campaigns.”) According to their website, this means you could send six times to 2,000 subscribers or 10 times to 1,200 subscribers at a time. I hope you are not teaching any more students than this during the academic year.

MailChimp offers quick and easy ways to prepare professional “campaigns,” which could be a teacher’s weekly newsletter, for instance, providing links to students’ work, updates on important dates, student-contributed stories, and anything else you want to share with parents. You can quickly import parents’ email addresses into a list by copying and pasting from a spreadsheet. MailChimp also includes an online form you can create to embed on your website, allowing viewers to subscribe to any number of lists you create.

Reports: Find Out What Your Readers Want
mail chimp list
But the real benefits of MailChimp appear after your email campaign. You can view various reports on how your readers interacted with your content. You can view how many subscribers engaged with your campaigns on your MailChimp dashboard. By clicking on the Reports section, you can access even more information and download, share, or print specific reports. You can see how many parents looked at your message, which links they clicked, and their geolocation. This will allow you to prepare more meaningful newsletters, with content that parents want. Also, you can direct specific content to specific people.

Too Much Work?
Ok, I think by now you have figured out that MailChimp can simplify the creation and sending of parent updates, along with seeing just how important these updates were to these parents, but you still might be like I was–unconvinced this was worth the effort. However, if you want to be able to really communicate with your parents on a level that is more personal and directed to their needs, MailChimp might be your answer. Through building and fostering relationships via email “campaigns,” you might actually save time by reducing the number of individual email responses to parents, returning phone calls, and informing parents of the current status of student work and schedules. A little bit of planning every week or every month through an email newsletter might prove to be a worthwhile, efficient endeavor.

Have Students Help
Better yet, have students help write the newsletter. You might be a Language Arts teacher who wants to incorporate different genres of writing in your course. Have students learn how to write newsletter articles and how to construct a newsletter. Have them share their writing in this newsletter and other school/community updates. Think of this as a collaborative effort across the classroom (or school), with students reviewing reports and adapting content and design to meet the needs of the readers. Maybe a marketing class would also want to participate in a study of MailChimp results. Once you start adapting technology to meet your needs, you directly experience its potential and power.

Educators as Active Listeners


I have a few sayings I often use in my teacher education courses and PD workshops for teachers related to active listening. They include:

  • If the teacher is doing more talking than the students, then this is a problem.
  • One of the biggest gifts we, as educators, can give to our learners is to be truly present for them, to deeply listen to what they have to say.

What this boils down to, for me, is the teacher being an active listener. I get to practice what I preach on a regular basis as I teach gifted elementary students three days a week. For this academic year, I decided to become even more intentional in practicing active listening with the students. I hope my intention has benefitted them. I know there have been benefits for me. I get to really relish in how they see the world. Their stories, ideas, jokes, and wit are often amazing; and I get great joy in hearing them. I also get to witness the joy and excitement through their faces and body language when I respond in awe with what they shared with me.

Active Listening Defined

Active listening‘ means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening — otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener. Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this ‘feedback’ the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly. (

Benefits of Active Listening

The benefits of active listening include:

  • Positive classroom culture which can lead to a positive school culture,
  • Improved teaching and learning,
  • Better teacher-student relationships,
  • Learners see themselves as active partners in their own education; they become more invested in their learning,
  • Learners feeling that they are in a safe environment where they are willing and able to express concerns, ask questions, ask for help, take risks.

Research shows that it is listening–really listening–to students that is critical to the student/teacher relationship. Knowing their teacher is interested in what they are saying, makes students feel cared about and emotionally connected to a school. Since research shows that feeling connected is requisite to students’ motivation to learn, showing that we listen is important not only as a matter of kindness but also as a motivational strategy. (

Peter Hudson believes there are several reasons why listening is important for teachers:

To show respect for and motivate your students.

When someone is listened to, they feel more respected than if they are spoken over or talked at. When you listen to your students, they feel that much more valued and if they feel more valued, they feel good about themselves which in turn makes them want to do more. In other words, they feel more motivated. Increased motivation makes the students much more likely to work harder and if they work harder, they achieve more and will receive yet more respect. So a virtuous circle has been started that can do nothing but good for your students — just by listening to them.

To find out what’s really going on with your students

If you are to support your students, you need to know what’s going on in their lives. Some students will be open and informative but others won’t. Active listening is a really good way to get kids to open up. You need to know about difficulties in their academic life as well as their lives outside school if you are to be able to point them in the best direction for appropriate help and support or to give it yourself. Active listening can help in both these areas. A skilled active listener can help students to find their own way out of difficulties which is even better as it increases their self-motivation.

To be an effective role model

Whether you notice or whether you don’t, as a teacher you have a significant influence on students: you are a role model for them. So you need to decide how best to play out this role. Setting an example as a listening caring person will rub off and you will be helping students to develop as listeners too. (

Listening Skills for Educators

The following are some easy-to-implement skills the educator can use to develop and enhance their active listening skills:

  • Attend to the speaking learner with an open mind; without any agenda except to just listen.
  • Use body language and nonverbal cues that demonstrate a focus on the speaking learner.
  • Practice empathy skills with both verbal and nonverbal responses.
  • Engage in informal conversations encouraging learners to talk about non-school related topics.
  • Summarize what you heard the learner saying.
  • Reflect back to the learner what you believe to be the thoughts and feelings behind the stated message.
  • Ask open-ended questions if and when you don’t understand what the learner is saying and/or if you need further information.
  • Inquire about how learners connect to their learning; about their metacognitive strategies.

Dr. JACKIE GERSTEIN is one of Boise State EdTech’s exceptional adjunct instructors.


The rumor of my demise . . .

Jerry Foster


Congratulatory comments on my retirement came from students and former students around the world and, of course, from across America. Thank you all for your well-wishes, but I can’t help but think of Mark Twain at the moment.

He said the rumor of his demise was greatly exaggerated.

Same with me.

On Wednesday, the EdTech Department threw a wonderful retirement party for me, and Dixie posted it on Facebook. The word was out. Then, less than 24 hours later, I was approved to work part-time for a year or so.

When I started here in 2001, we had about 50 students, one master’s program and one graduate certificate. Today, we have three graduate degrees and four certificates.

As I move forward in the next year or so, I will focus almost entirely on advising students entering our education specialist degree. Whether you’re interested in an advanced degree or not, you’re not only welcome but encouraged to reach out for a digital visit. It would be my pleasure to find out what you’re up to these days. If you see an old guy hobbling into the sunset, it won’t be me. Not yet.

Boise State raises esports profile at Mountain West Conference

Boise State eSports


Boise State’s Varsity eSports team recently traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete in a three-day series of matches against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas at the Mountain West Conference Basketball Championship Tournament.

The conference organized this inaugural event in support of the growing interest in competitive esports — video gaming — in the collegiate realm, said Brett Shelton. Shelton is a professor and department head in the Department of Educational Technology and general manager of the eSports team. Boise State launched its esports program in 2017.

Boise State’s team, led by Shelton as well as head coach Chris Haskell, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Technology, competed in three games: Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League. While the primary objective of the matches was to showcase eSports at the Mountain West, Boise State took home the championship title in the Showdown Match for Rocket League, a game that pairs soccer and rocket-powered cars.

The events were open to spectators. The matches attracted scores of fans, including a group of local students who on one day of competition filled the venue to capacity. Close to 4,000 additional spectators tuned in to watch via Twitch, the live streaming video platform.

eSports team

Boise State President Bob Kustra stopped by the competition and shared his thoughts about eSports at the university during an ESP Gaming spot.

The Nevada matches, said Kustra, were a “great recruiting tool, not just in Nevada and the American West, but how about from the Far East?” Boise State’s esports program opens “an opportunity to diversify our enrollment in ways we never could have done otherwise,” said Kustra.

Boise State, he added, is getting in early on the eSports trend. “We think it’s important to do it right,” said Kustra.

Watch the full interview online.

Fans of esports, or those who want to learn more about them, will have a chance to see some local competition up-close. Boise State will host the inaugural High School eSports Tournament in the Jordan Ballroom on April 21. High School students from across Idaho will compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros 4.

Organizers are also inviting faculty and staff to help out as volunteers. Sign up online.

The popularity of esports is a growing trend. According to a story, “Are esports the next major league sport?” in The Conversation, a site that publishes academic research, 12 million more people tuned in to watch the 2016 League of Legends World Finals, an esports competition, than watched the National Basketball Association finals that year.

Big news from MET grad Megan Alicia

Megan Alicia (MET, 2015) has a new job at Kent State University.

Actually, it is an old temporary job that is now officially hers. And it is remarkable.

Institutions in higher education typically hire faculty with doctoral degrees, but Megan started working on a limited based while she was in Boise State’s EdTech master’s program. When the full-time faculty member left KSU in 2016, Megan stepped into the role full-time until a permanent replacement could be found.

We recently learned that Megan has been chosen as the permanent replacement, which just goes to show that sometimes the best employees are right down the hall.