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Pre-observing Boise State’s 80th anniversary


On Sept. 6th, Boise State will celebrate its 89th anniversary because on Sept. 6, 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, Boise Junior College opened its doors for the first time. The inaugural class consisted of 78 students taught by 15 faculty members. Founded by the Episcopal Church in St. Margaret’s Hall in downtown Boise, its first president was Bishop Middleton Barnwell. Control moved to a board of directors in 1934 and in 1940 the school moved from St Margaret’s Hall to its present site along the Boise River.

In 1965, BJC became the four-year Boise College; four years later the name changed to Boise State College to reflect its move to the state system of higher education. Master’s degrees were first awarded in 1972 and BSC became Boise State University in 1974. In 2012, the university celebrated its largest graduating class ever (2,242 students) and awarded a record 11 doctoral degrees.

Today, easy access to Idaho’s capital city puts campus within arm’s reach of internships, volunteer opportunities, cultural experiences and the power and politics of the Idaho Statehouse. As such, Boise’s university plays a crucial role in the region’s economic development and stands as a beacon of innovation and growth.

Happy birthday Boise State!

Here are a few cool things you may not know about the school that opened in 1932:

  1. The Bronco mascot was chosen during BJC’s first year because students wanted something that reflected Boise’s western location, and because so many wild horses roamed the nearby Owyhee Canyonlands. The blue and orange color scheme also was chosen that same year.
  2. Christ Chapel, the nostalgic one-room church/schoolhouse now located east of Bronco Stadium along Broadway Avenue, is the forerunner of St. Margaret’s School, which was founded in 1892. In 1932, St. Margaret’s was converted into Boise Junior College.
  3. Boise Junior College, like St. Margaret’s, could easily have been a school for girls only if it hadn’t been for the persistence of boys from the Boise High School class of 1932 who also wanted to attend the new college.
  4. Eugene Chaffee was BJC’s first male faculty member. His wage was $1,215 for the year, even less than the $1,373 that bus drivers nationally were averaging at the time. Operating budgets during the 1930s at BJC averaged about $20,000 per year.
  5. The Arbiter student newspaper began as The Roundup in 1933. Later it was called the University Arbiter and then the University News before settling on its current name.
  6. The land on which most of the main campus sits was once an island. Its most famous resident was Sage Brush Ann (also known as Tarpaper Annie), who lived alone in a modest tarpaper shack.
  7. The first U.S. commercial air flight was an airmail flight in 1926 from Pasco, Wash., to Boise on Varney Air Lines, predecessor of United Airlines. The dirt landing strip was where Bronco Stadium now sits.
  8. The Administration Building, opened in time for the fall 1940 semester, was later named in honor of local attorney Oliver Haga, although it is almost never called that. It housed all of the new campus’s classrooms, the library, laboratories, offices and a large room that served as the Student Union.
  9. The original BJC Student Union Building cost $26,500 in 1941. It is now the Communication Building.
  10. In 1942, BJC almost closed down. Enrollment plummeted to less than 200 students as scores of patriotic young men left for war — even President Chaffee suited up.
  11. In the 1940s, members of the BJC Minute Maids student organization wore big “Vs” on their hats and sold war bonds and defense stamps to aid the homefront war effort. Their motto was “Duty Before Dates.”
  12.  A ghost named Dinah (a precursor to Hogwarts’ Moaning Myrtle?) is said to haunt the Communication Building, formerly the home of the Student Union. Many years ago, the young woman was supposedly jilted by a young man and took her life in what is now a restroom in the building. No hard evidence exists that the story is true, but many people have reported “encounters” with her.
  13. The Campus School elementary school was constructed on the Boise State campus in 1953 through an agreement between the college and Boise School District. The school educated neighborhood children while also acting as a teacher training facility for BJC elementary education students. The building currently houses Department of Art faculty and classrooms as well as the university’s Human Resource Services.
  14. The school’s first two residence halls were built in 1951. Driscoll Hall originally housed men and Morrison Hall was built to house women. Today, seven residence halls, several apartment buildings and a new townhouse complex along Lincoln Avenue offer on-campus housing. Five Living and Learning communities include faculty in residence, where professors facilitate learning by living in the residence halls alongside students.
  15. The 1958 student handbook carefully detailed appropriate student dress on campus: Gals — Sport dresses, sweaters and skirts, low heels. Slacks and shorts are not acceptable campus wear. Guys — Casual clothes, slacks, Levis, khakis, shorts, sweaters. Bermudas are not acceptable on campus.
  16. The first Bronco Stadium was built in 1950 and seated 10,800 fans. The current stadium opened in 1970 and currently seats 37,000.
  17. Beginning in the 1950s, a string of football players began arriving from Hawaii as part of the “Hawaiian pipeline.” By the late 1970s, nearly 100 players had came to Boise State from Hawaii.
  18. Student life was made easier in 1965 with the installation of a copy machine. Advertised as a time-saving device, the cost was 20 cents per copy. Today, all centrally located classrooms are equipped with wireless access, half of the classrooms are set up for lecture capture and software allows faculty to publish lectures to the Web.
  19. A large fountain once stood in front of the Albertsons Library, and was the focal point of many student pranks.
  20. The Bob Gibb Friendship Bridge, built in 1977 as a visual reminder of the close relationship between Boise State University and the City of Boise, is named for a former assistant to Boise State President John Barnes.
  21. The Boise State Alumni Association was created in 1967 with 12 founding members. Dues were set at $2 per alum per year. Today, more than 75,000 alumni live across the United States and beyond. Now, Boise State alums can get a 15% discount on selected EdTech degrees.
  22. During the 1969-70 school year, Boise State College’s marching band gave a nationally televised halftime performance at the football game between the San Francisco ’49ers and the Washington Redskins.
  23. Bronco Stadium is home to the first blue Astro Turf field in the world, first installed in 1986. Other schools have special color projects for the end zone area, but at the time, Boise State was the only school to have the entire field produced in a special color.
  24. Original plans for the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts called for it to be built in Ann Morrison Park and not on the Boise State campus. Opened in 1984, the building houses both academic classrooms and a state-of-the-art performance hall. From the air, it resembles the shape of the state of Idaho.
  25. About the same time, the College of Education started teaching working educators how to integrate technology effectively for improved student engagement and learning, and from that beginning, the Department of Educational Technology was formed a decade later. Boise State EdTech continues to cater to working educators.
  26. Since 1990, the Carnegie Foundation has named a Boise State professor the top undergraduate professor in the state of Idaho 11 times.
  27. Boise State boasts one of the largest internship programs in the Northwest, with more than 1,300 job placements annually.
  28. Boise State offers more than 200 degrees, including seven doctoral degrees, 78 master’s degrees, 18 graduate certificates and 99 undergraduate degrees.
  29. New programs launched in the past year include Ph.D.s in biomolecular science, materials science and engineering, doctor of nursing practice, and a fully online doctorate in educational technology.
  30. Creativity and engagement are celebrated through the Arts and Humanities Institute, which encourages critical thinking across disciplines through exhibitions, lectures, performances, community outreach and other activities.
  31. As a Boise State Distinguished Educator in Residence, former NASA astronaut and educator Barbara Morgan provides vision and leadership to the State of Idaho on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
  32. Boise Sate’s research profile is growing at a record pace. The university attained $9.9 million in National Science Foundation funding and $1.8 million in NASA funding for the 2010-2011 academic year. Researchers also received the university’s first-ever grant, for $1 million, from the W.M. Keck Foundation.
  33. The only master of science degree in raptor biology in the United States is offered at Boise State. And the university’s Master of Educational Technology degree is the largest ed-tech program in America. The school also has the largest undergraduate nursing program in Idaho and highly regarded programs in business, engineering and creative writing.

Boise State’s Cool Teacher Show wraps-up taping at ISTE16

It is 2:30 p.m. in the Mountain West, which means ISTE 2016 is over and EdTech Faculty members Chris Haskell and Barbara Schroeder are packing up.

They went to Denver to interview the nation’s movers, shakers, and disrupters in educational technology. And they got a few.

We don’t know what they said because the interviews are under wraps until the dynamic duo gets back to Boise and starts recording Cool Teacher Show segments with the ISTE16 interviews.

But I can give you peek at some of the names.

Leanna Prater, a tech integration specialist for Fayette County Schools in Lexington, Kentucky. Wait until you hear what she’s got to say.

James Pike talked about how he uses Minecraft to teach algebra and geometry to 2nd and 3rd graders. Really! That reminds me of a line—okay, a word—from The Princess Bride: “Inconceivable!” Okay, we’ll have to watch for that “can’t-miss” episode.

And then, there was the guy from Disney Inspired Classrooms. I have heard about it, so I am anxious see that one, too.

Chris and Barbara interviewed Steve Isaacs, the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Teacher, so that will make an outstanding discussion, right? Search the Cool Teacher Show on YouTube over the next few weeks to see what he and others had to say.

EdTech doc student making news at ISTE16


Alice Keeler (front) and friends at ISTE16. EdTech Assistant Professor Chris Haskell is shown at left.

Alice Keeler (front) and friends at ISTE16. EdTech Assistant Professor Chris Haskell is shown at left.

EdTech doctoral student Alice Keeler appeared in the lead article in today’s eSchoolNews after participating in a roundtable discussion with school technology officers, ed-tech specialists, and other educators at the ISTE conference in Denver.

Keeler was quoted in three segments of Laura Devaney’s eSchoolNews article, 5 things changing today’s CTO role. I’ll share a few snippets here.

Open educational resources

How do we support teachers in using OER? How should we share this content?

“The biggest challenge is that too many people still define curriculum by their texts – they buy a curriculum,” said Andrew Chlup, director of application programming and support in Alaska’s Anchorage School District. “Every one of those is a closed ecosystem by default. You’re not allowed to modify or share. Either a district itself starts to promote the Creative Commons, or you start tapping into the amazing resources out there, and it gives people the opportunity to grab it and let you personalize it.”

“I don’t think you should force people to do things,” said Alice Keeler, a Google Certified Teacher and the author of the book 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom. “We should be concerned about quality. It’s great that [OER] are out there and free, but do we ask that the teachers wade through things that are not high-quality? There has to be an effective way to rate that, and crowdsourcing is not necessarily an effective way to do things. How do we have administrators and teacher teams look at the resources in a way that they’re not wasting their time?”

“I think there has to be a balance,” Chlup said. “Are you expecting people to go into it blindly and recreate things from scratch?”

A slow approach to OER integration is one option, Honeycutt said, suggesting that teachers take their least-favorite lesson to teach and make it more exciting by integrating OER, and build their OER repository lesson by lesson. “Take it one at a time, and more organically replace lessons with more effective models.”

In the IT management and instructional leadership segment, Susan Bearden, director of IT at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Florida, said,  “It’s very difficult to be the expert in everything. I made friends and found mentors, and I learned from them. For CTOs, find that person in the district who is willing to bring you up to speed in the areas where you’re not strong. That struggle between traditional IT operations and the needs of the school—there’s  always a tension there. Sometimes you go against traditional IT best practices to help teachers and students. The role of IT has changed tremendously and we need to be cognizant of that.”

Identifying what IT actions or initiatives will best support the district’s educational mission is a good start, too.

“Focus on what’s really important, and give feedback,” Keeler said. “What really gets down to the heart of the business of education? What’s really going to make some of those big differences?”

Communication and cooperation seemed to be the unanimous need, wrote Devaney in the final segment—What is needed from an IT director?

“I need support from administrators saying it’s OK to fail,” Keeler said. “Teachers should give IT staff room to fail. I need a little more teamwork and understanding, and the room for both parties to try something and fail.”

“I don’t think the CTO has to have all the answers,” said David Malone, executive director of technology and innovation for the San Francisco Unified School District. “If you make this model where IT has all the answers, you won’t move forward. Let’s decide together, instead of one person trying to steer the ship.”

“Communication between the academic and the technology sides of the house is so critical,” Bearden said. “Anything we can do to improve communication and break down silos needs to be a really important focus for both sides.”

On a side note, EdTech faculty members Chris Haskell and Barbara Schroeder are interviewing top presenters at ISTE for their Cool Teacher Show, which they publish several times a week on YouTube.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

    So, what makes a beautiful day?
    It is sunny and 76 degrees outside. A light breeze is shaking the leaves on the trees, and my wife has a handful grandchildren working in the yard.
    For my part, I can look out the window from time to time and I can hear the rhythmic grind of the chop-saw chewing through the scrap lumber that someone brought over for my winter warmth.
    As I work at advising new educational technology students via email, contented with all that is happening outside, perhaps I can forget how much yesterday’s vote in England is deteriorating the value of my stocks-based retirement fund.

EdTech robotics camp in full stride

Robot Camp--boy and girl

EdTech Professor Young Baek is teaching technology to kids again this summer. Ten kids in grades 4 through 7 are assembling robots and competing with classmates. Above, Dimitri Adams runs his robot through a cardboard obstacle course while Stephanie Liu waits for her turn. Below, Danny Gu adds more components to his robot. Ten students in the robotics camp and 11 in a separate Scratch programming camp meet two hours daily for three weeks.

Robot Camp--boy in red

Application deadline looms for district integration position

Rosko, Keith's profile photoSome of you will want to know what Keith Rosko said this morning.
Especially those of you who want to become a district tech integration specialist.
Keith leads the technology committee at his school district in Binghampton, New York, and he’s looking for a well-prepared district-wide K-12 tech integration specialist. He wants some great applicants, which is why he is reaching out to us.
You’d better move fast because the call for applications closes on June 30.

Notice in the job announcement below that a New York teaching license is required. Surely those of you elsewhere in the country can transfer your out-of-state license, but it wouldn’t hurt to contact Keith to make sure. You can reach him at Tell him Jerry at Boise State sent you.

For those of you who haven’t been there, Binghampton is a nice-sized city of about 50,000 in upstate New York, just a little north of the Pennsylvania border.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF VACANCY: Applications are invited for consideration for appointment to the following position: TYPE OF POSITION: Full-time Educational Technology Specialist CERTIFICATION: Valid NYS Educational Technology Specialist Certification required SALARY: As per Chenango Forks Teachers’ Assoc. contract EFFECTIVE DATE: September 1, 2016 Persons interested in applying for the above position should submit cover letter, application, resume, transcripts, copy of teaching certificate(s) and letters of reference to Dr. Lloyd “Joe” Peck, Superintendent by June 30, 2016. A copy of our application can be found on our website at Chenango Forks Central School District 1 Gordon Drive Binghamton, NY, 13901 Attention: Dr. Lloyd “Joe” Peck, Superintendent of Schools.

Virginia embraces multiple-track high schools

working on aircraft

The Virginia Legislature has given the state Board of Education the task of re-designing—even redefining—the state’s high schools.

Students will focus on core courses in their first two years and the second two years will present multiple paths to graduation.

At the end of the first two years, students will choose to pursue a university track, a community college track, or a school-to-work track that prepares them for jobs in local industry. Internships, apprenticeships, and industry certifications will translate into credits for high school graduation. The state already sets goals for the number of industry certifications earned by high school students.

Some Virginia schools are already evolving to serve the industrial workforce in their communities. For example, one high school has an aviation academy in which students can learn to fly and maintain aircraft. Others have an apprenticeship with Canon. Others have partnered with Ford Motor Company’s national education initiative called Ford Next Generation Learning.

Now, here’s a question to cogitate. What do you think a teacher’s skill-set will look like in 10 years?

Doc students already seeing success

photo of Patty McGinnis

EdD grad Patty McGinnis of Pennsylvania.

photo of Sally Baldwin

Doctoral student Sally Baldwin

All in all, it’s been a pretty good spring for Boise State EdTech doctoral students..

– In April, Patty McGinnis, one of our master’s graduates, was named an editor of a national publication for science teachers.
– In early May, McGinnis graduated with a Boise State EdTech doctoral degree.
– A couple of weeks later, McGinnis’ book was published by the National Science Teachers Association.
– And, at the end of May, doctoral student Sally Baldwin and EdTech Assistant Professor Yu-Hui Ching published an article on an educational website.

McGinnis’ editing gig is with ScienceScope, NSTA’s peer-reviewed journal for middle level and junior high school science teachers. It is available on the NSTA website.

Her book is called Be a Winner! A Science Teacher’s Guide to Writing Successful Grant Proposals and is available on and at the NSTA Science Store at .

Baldwin and Ching published an article called 5 Features to Turn Your Online Course into Interactive Storytelling.  You can read it on the website at .

A life-changing week for Jason Shiffer


Zack Shiffer interacts with classmates from his hospital room.     (School dist. photo)


This should be a life-changing week for EdTech student Jason Shiffer. His son, Zach, 8, is expected to be released from the hospital after six months of treatment for leukemia.

It has “actually been a pretty amazing journey,” says Jason. “Both good and bad.”

The emotional downs are obvious, but the ups—ohhhh, I dare say—the ups will gladden the heart of any teacher, especially those involved in technology.

With a laptop computer in his room at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and a two-wheeled robot in his second-grade classroom 30 miles away, Zach continued to participate in school. Even though chemotherapy made him too sick to participate on some days, he stayed on track and met all the state requirements and advanced to third grade.

The school district rented, then bought, the robot that looks somewhat like a Segway scooter with an iPad attached to a telescoping mast.  Zach’s classmates—probably with help from teachers Kate Shiflet and Rachel Speelman—dressed it with a Stony Brook Elementary School shirt and a Philadelphia Flyers cap and called it ZAP, for Zach’s Automated Presence.

From the hospital, Zach could maneuver the robot around the room and when classmates sat on the floor for small-group activities, Zach could lower the mast so the iPod screen and camera were at their level.

“One time, he went to lunch with us. ZAP didn’t eat, but Zach got to talk to all of his friends,” one of Zach’s classmates, Rowan McWilliams, told the local newspaper.

ZAP also attended a Central York School District board meeting. Jason was in the hospital with Zach and spoke to board members through ZAP. Zach told the board it only took him three days to learn how to steer ZAP around the classroom, and then he demonstrated his driving skills for board members.

The robot cost the district about $3,000, but one school board member said the technology was “priceless.”

Jason, an environmental science teacher, said his wife blogged incessantly and that friends and family members were incredibly supportive and the hospital staff was awesome.  People he didn’t even know gave money on Zach’s gofundme page. “Friends of friends, I suppose.”

Jason’s family, and especially little Zach, have been through the wringer for the past six months. The hospital staff knows that, and family members and friends know it. That’s why they’ve stepped up to support the Shiffers. It may seem odd to some people, but it needs to be said. There’s nothing like a disaster or catastrophe to bring out the best in people, like you saw in Jason’s comments.

It reminds me of another student, years ago, who gave birth on an Easter morning. The baby—a girl, I think—died during delivery or immediately afterward. Our student told me later that she sat in a rocking chair in her hospital room and held that lifeless body for an hour or two before letting go. Classmates found out and flooded me with phone calls and emails, asking where they could send flowers and cards. And then, they filled that mother’s heart with sympathy, support, and love.

Now, fast-forward to this week in York, Pennsylvania. Jason needs some time before returning to work and to his graduate studies. Until then, he and the whole family will cherish every moment with Zach.

JERRY FOSTER is an advisor and recruiter for Boise State’s EdTech graduate programs.

EdTech grad presents at leadership conference

MET graduate and doctoral candidate Leif Nelson gLief Nelsonave a presentation titled “Interdisciplinary Methods for Piloting and Evaluating EdTech Tools” at the IMS Global Learning Impact Leadership Institute on May 26 in San Antonio, Texas.

The presentation discussed an innovative blend of project management and instructional design principles used to evaluate technology for teaching and learning, and the presentation shared examples of how Boise State’s Office of Information Technology has applied these techniques to effectively evaluate such technologies as student response clickers and classroom capture solutions.

Nelson directs Boise State’s Learning Technology Solutions service in the Office of Information Technology.