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EdTech grad wins major award for innovative teaching


Everyone who’s been around raw milk knows what happens when you leave it alone to do its thing—cream rises to the top.
And so it is with Alyson Nelson, a 2013 EdTech grad.
This week, Alyson was named one of seven winners of the Allen Distinguished Educators program, which grants $25,000 awards for pioneering work in education. The ADE award generated 81 initial applications representing 31 states. From 16 finalists, seven winning projects were chosen.

“A national search for innovation in education revealed a significant appetite for strategies that give students more ownership over their learning,” said Dave Ferrero, Senior Program Officer for Education at Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen company. “We believe that recognizing and supporting innovative teachers and their programs will create hands-on, real-world opportunities for students that are replicable models of success.”

The program focuses on the integration of computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship into engaging, student-led learning. This type of curriculum can help students build skills, habits and dispositions that can transform their lives and lead them to success in the 21st century.

Alyson, a native of South Carolina, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Science Teaching with a minor in Biology at Clemson. In 2012, she was named Teacher of the Year at Mauldin High School and was a top 10 finalist for District Teacher of the Year in Greenville County, the largest school district in South Carolina.

That’s when I wrote about her the first time.

In 2013, part-way through Boise State’s online EdTech master’s program, Alyson and her husband moved to Washington where she was hired to develop a Signature STEM Lab at the newly opened Nikola Tesla STEM High School in Redmond. With her experience in teaching about the human body, Alyson developed the Advanced Biomedical Engineering Lab to address global challenges in engineering and medicine. Over the past two years, students in this program have won numerous awards, collaborated and interned with industry professionals, achieved entry into prestigious universities, and began their pursuit of careers in the medical field. Alyson hopes to continue inspiring students to pursue their passion in healthcare through providing a rigorous, engaging, and innovative program.

And the cream keeps rising.

Leslie Lott: Ups and downs and up, up, up

Received a note from Leslie Lott the other day. Like most of us, she’s had her share of ups and downs since graduating from the EdTech master’s program in 2010. Hers is one of those one-door-opens-when-another-door-closes story.

 She said she always tells people about her experience and how much she learned in the M.E.T. program at Boise State.  Her expertise and accompanying degree took her somewhere she never expected to go.

 I’ll let her tell the story.

After receiving my undergraduate degree in elementary education with an endorsement in literacy, I chose to go straight into the M.E.T., as I felt I needed to know more about the use of technology in my field. Halfway through the program, we moved back to Montana due to the closure of the company where my husband worked.

I applied at the local school district, which used its government stimulus money to buy technology and to hire me as an instructional technology coach—even  though I had not completed the master’s program yet.

This job gave me two years of hands-on experience with integrating technology in teaching and learning with a focus on training teachers on the LMS, Moodle. I completed the M.E.T. during this time. When the stimulus funds were gone, my job ended, but [here’s Door #2] I was hired as a library media specialist in an elementary school. I taught 19 classes a week. This gave me a great deal of teaching experience and allowed me to still integrate technology.

Toward the end of the school year, a friend said the small, local Catholic university was looking for someone to teach instructional technology and she thought I should apply.  [And Door #3] After much thought and prayer, I decided to apply and was hired as a full time instructor of education, which is what I am currently doing.  This is my fourth year at the University of Great Falls.

I continue to try and keep up in the field but I will always be grateful for the choice I made in completing the M.E.T. program at Boise State. I’m also grateful for all of my professors who knew how to model the integration of technology in teaching and learning.

A word from ’05 grad Scott Miles

Phantom camera and Hive light set up with Scott Miles and Dean Dephillipo at Brooks Institute.

EDTECH GRAD SCOTT MILES (left) uses a Phantom high-speed video camera with low-temperature plasma and LED lighting to make slow-motion videos of a chameleon feeding. Dean DePhillipo, a faculty colleague at Brooks Institute of Photography, adjusts the Hive plasma light source.     Photo © Ralph Clevenger, Brooks Institute

Just got a letter from one of my all-time favorite students, Scott Miles, a professor of studio photography at the seriously illustrious Brooks Institute of Photography in California.

In those days (2005), students had to produce a culminating activity to demonstrate their expertise in research and technology integration. Even then, we expected students to customize the program to fit their own professional situation, so Scott researched a lesser-known pioneering photographer of American wilderness and created a video documentary. In case anyone wonders, yeah, it was a knock-your-socks-off production.

When I met his wife at commencement, she hugged me for guiding her husband through his graduate program. It’s people and moments like this that have made advising here for the past 15 years here so memorable and special.

Here’s Scott’s note:

I just wanted to let you know about the great opportunities that were opened up to me because I earned the M.S. in Educational Technology from Boise State University. I was a professional photography instructor at Brooks Institute while working online to get my degree at Boise State. Shortly after graduation, I became the Professional Photography Program chair–largely due to my enhanced understanding of higher education and technology. In recent years, I worked with the Brooks Institute faculty to develop our first online degree program. The Master of Science in Scientific and Technological Imaging (MSSTI) Program was launched in 2015. Boise State EdTech Department Chair Brett Shelton accepted our invitation to participate on the MSSTI Advisory Board, and we’ve continued to benefit from the expertise of the BSU EdTech faculty.

The Brooks Institute MSSTI program has opened up great new opportunities in the fields of life sciences imaging, engineering imaging, cultural heritage and museum imaging, aerospace and other industrial imaging, and other aspects of visually communicating science, history and technology. This expansion of scientific imaging at Brooks Institute began, in part, with my experiences in the EdTech program at Boise State University.

Faculty and grad students to present at AERA

Nearly a dozen EdTech faculty members and students will present their research or lead discussions at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference April 8-12 in Washington, D.C.

Faculty members Dazhi Yang and Chareen Snelson and graduate student Sally Baldwin will present “Engagement and Persistence in Computing Disciplines: Persistence Factors Revealed; Students’ Reflections on Completing a Fully Online Master’s Program.”

EdTech Department Chair Brett Shelton and adjunct instructor Mary Ann Parlin will be joined by colleagues from CalState-Fullerton and Utah State University will present “Stimulating Student Interest with Smartphones: Increasing Undergraduate Motivation to Learn Geoscience with Virtual Field Trips.”

​EdTech Assistant Professor Patrick Lowenthal, Assistant Professor at National Chiao Tung University Ken-Zen Chen and ​Boise State ​eCampus Assistant Director Christine Bauer will present “In-service Teacher Professional Development: Cross-National Perspectives on Training: How Do Online Faculty Perceive their Professional Development Opportunity—A Case Study.”

EdTech Professor Norm Friesen is planning to present “Lost in Translation: Wittgenstein as a Tragic Philosopher of Education.”

EdTech Chair Brett Shelton, adjunct instructor MaryAnn Parlin and colleagues from CalState-Fullerton and Utah State University will present a poster entitled “Assessment of Student Learning in the Geosciences Through Virtual Field Trip Games for Mobile Devices.”

Assistant Professor Jesus Trespalacios will participate in a roundtable discussion called “Designing Small-Group Analysis of Instructional Design Cases in Online Environments.”

And, Associate Professor Dazhi Yang will chair the SIG: IT’s session: Teacher Knowledge and Technology Professional Development and will serve as the discussant for Division K’s session: Professional Learning and the Change Process.

EdTech professor never in danger during ‘quake

We’ve received word that EdTech Professor Andy Hung was never in danger during the earthquake that recently struck Taiwan.

Hung is working this year at the Digital Education Institute in Taipei, the capital city. The earthquake struck his hometown, Tainan, which is on the opposite end of the island. His parents’ home and EdTech’s partner institution, National University of Tainan, are not located directly on the fault, so they didn’t sustain any damage, though they’re in the same city in which apartment buildings collapsed.

The parents of EdTech faculty members Yu-Hui Ching and Yu-Chang Hsu are also safe. They live on the opposite end of the island from the earthquake’s epicenter.

On CTS, EdTech grad explains his paperless classroom

EdTech graduate Matt Gudenius was a guest on a recent edition of The Cool Teacher Show, hosted by EdTech professors Chris Haskell and Barbara Schroeder.

Gudenius’ paperless classroom was the focus of a multi-page spread in Time magazine in October of 2014.

Now a sixth grade teacher, the 13-year classroom veteran opted out of teaching computer lab because he wanted to showcase how teachers can integrate tech tools into the classroom. “I couldn’t do that as a separate computer science teacher. It set a paradigm that kids go to computer class to learn about computers. Like I said in the Time article, a mechanic doesn’t go to a wrench class. It’s a tool you use for a purpose and you have to have a more holistic view of things.

The main thing is not to be afraid, to jump in and try things. That’s a big thing that holds people back. There’s an intimidation factor, a fear of change, at least until they see it modeled or until they try it.”

Co-host Barbara Schroeder said many teachers are afraid of looking like failures in front of students, but appropriate behavior in the face of failure models for students how to trouble-shoot and solve problems. “That’s what life’s all about.”

Gudenius said, “In the engineering world, we call it falling forward. You plan to fail, but you want to learn from that failure.”

He said he still uses some paper and hands-on exercises for 3-D spatial reasoning in some math lessons. “It’s not all virtual labs or simulated things, and even with art, I actually do use some paper. For example, it’s hard to fold up a computer screen to make orgami.”

See the episode at .


We saw it coming: The answer is here, now

Last week, the Education Committee in the Idaho House of Representatives unanimously approved a computer science bill that would develop an online repository of instructional resources and provide teachers with professional development training.

This week, the Education Committee in the Utah Senate unanimously did something similar.

The Utah bill earmarked more than $2 million to expand computer science instruction in Utah schools, specifically developing curriculum and hiring qualified teachers to introduce computer coding and similar subjects to students.

In the past two semesters, the nation’s largest graduate program for teaching technology to teachers—Boise State EdTech—increased its support of STEM and STEAM teachers by more than doubling the number of courses requiring coding. In addition to HTML and mobile-app design courses that have been offered for years, the master’s program added courses in:

  • Robotics programming,
  • Digital animation, and
  • Maker-tech for STEAM education.

The Idaho bill seeks collaboration between industry leaders, Idaho’s STEM Action Center, and Idaho’s education entities. In Utah, Sen. Howard Stephenson said, “We simply are not providing in America, or in Utah for that matter, sufficient [numbers of] trained people in the computer science and coding world.”

It all starts in the K-12 education system, and that is the garden in which most of our online graduate students work as teachers.

Watch for new look and functionality on my.boisestate

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the newly designed myBoiseState will debut at

Rebuilt from bottom to top with a beautiful new interface, the new myBoiseState gives you easier access to the tools and information you need at Boise State. Whether you’re viewing on a phone, tablet, laptop or big screen, the new myBoiseState gives you even more important information without requiring you to dig deeper into other systems.

New features for students and/or faculty and staff include:

  • Class schedule available as both list and weekly calendar grid views
  • Blackboard course indicator
  • New quick search for services and resources
  • Create a custom, personalized menu of the sites, services and resources you frequently access
  • Current majors and minors show at a glance, with easy ability to access the Change My Major app to make academic plan changes
  • New persistent Course Evaluation reminders
  • View adviser name and contact information
  • New GPA calculator for students to discover how future grades will impact overall GPA
  • Configure customized news feed for headlines that matter to you
  • Current, past-due, and expected future balances of fees owed to the university
  • Easy, quick Course Search for future students, and current students without having to access Student Center
  • Quick link to new Expenses Minus Financial Aid Estimator app to budget and plan for upcoming semesters
  • Financial aid disbursements at a glance

Where on campus is EdTech?

Boise State University has launched a new interactive campus map, which will help EdTech graduates find their way around campus at commencement time. EdTech adviser Jerry Foster provided input during development to make it more useful to first-time campus visitors.

The map should also help potential students worldwide to recognize that Boise State EdTech is indeed an online program in a public brick-and-mortar university.

To find Educational Technology, go to and search the upper part of the map for Science/Education Building. If you integrate Google Streetview, you’ll see that the Science and Education buildings are joined at the hip in the shape of a backward L—unless you scroll around back.

Visit to see a number of features, including:

  • Birds-eye 3-D renderings of campus buildings and landmarks
  • Panoramic 360 views of selected campus locations
  • Integration with Google Streetview – (drag Google pegman from upper right to selected map location)
  • Ability to link and share individual locations
  • Integrated Campus Tours
  • Driving, walking and public transportation directions powered by Google
  • Mobile responsive design — just view in a mobile browser — no app required
  • GPS “you are here” blue dot (location services must be enabled on your device)
  • Search
  • Custom print map and legend feature

Boise State worked with Concept3D, whose product CampusBird is the leading interactive map platform for the education market.

Where in the world: EdTech professor speaks in Germany and England

Dr. Norm Friesen speaking at the University of Kiel in Germany

Dr. Norm Friesen speaking at the University of Kiel in Germany

Associate Professor Norm Friesen presented yesterday at the University of Kiel in Germany and is presenting today at the Institute of Education at the University College of London.

Yesterday, his keynote address focused on The Lecture as a Transmedial Pedagogical Form: An Historical Analysis. Friesen says lectures have been maligned as a pedagogical form, yet they persist and even flourish in the form of the podcast, the TED talk, and the “smart” lecture hall.

He said lectures still remain a valuable pedagogical genre in which media are incorporated for didactic purposes, bridging oral communication with writing and other media technologies. His analysis shows the lecture to be a remarkably adaptable and robust genre that combines textual record and ephemeral event, and that is capable of addressing a range of different demands and circumstances, both practical and epistemological.

Today (Wednesday Feb. 27) in London, he’s speaking on the late German pedagogical theorist Klaus Mollenhauer.

Friesen discusses a number of core themes that emerge from Mollenhauer’s work. These include Mollenhauer’s understanding of Bildung as a biographical and experiential “way of the self” that is marked by a particular “pathlessness.” Referencing Wittgenstein in ways unconventional for education, Mollenhauer shows how this path or pathlessness is characterized not so much by success and triumph as by loss and renunciation. These themes also include the recovery of a concrete, personal language for education, rather than one abstract and generalizing. Finally, Dr. Friesen suggests, with Mollenhauer, that the broader task of remembrance, and thus of education itself, is as much one of difficulty and paradox as it is one of recovery and clarification.