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edtech connection blog

EdTech’s Lowenthal presents at World Conference on OL



EdTech’s Patrick Lowenthal is in Toronto this week to present at the World Conference on Online Learning. He is one of more than 600 academics from 56 countries to present at this event.

He and four colleagues prepared a poster on Investigating Faculty Perceptions and Practices of Teaching Large Online Courses. His co-authors are MET grad and EdTech doc students Justin Keel and Crystal Gasell, EdTech doc student Jeanna Cronk, and Joanna Dunlap of the University of Colorado Denver.

Lowenthal also is presenting on Accessible Online Learning: Thinking Beyond Compliance. Co-authors are Associate Professor of Early Childhood Development and Special Education Michael Humphrey, MET student Krista Greear, Alison Lowenthal of the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Quincy Conley.

Doc student, professor publish research

Doctoral student Ashraf Touati and Dr. Young Baek recently published an article in the Journal of Educational Computing Research.

Their research focused on 164 middle-school students using  Minecraft in mobile game-based learning. The proposed Touati-Baek model—based on Cognitive Evaluation Theory, Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory and Harter’s Theory of Self-Esteem—found that perceived competence and game attitude were the main predictors of enjoyment. Another important finding was the strong impact of prior game experience on perceived competence.

Touati, a Boise State EdTech master’s graduate, is now nearing completion of his doctoral studies. He and Baek expect their work to help influence learning outcomes in the development of new educational games.

Instructional designer needed

Amy Lomellini wrote today and said two wonderful things.

First, the May MET grad said she has secured a job as an instructional designer at Molloy College in Long Island, NY. Second, her employer is looking for another instructional designer.

The instructional designer will assist faculty in all academic divisions in designing courses and programs for hybrid and online delivery by providing expertise in the development of, and ongoing support to faculty through education, consultation, and assistance with online learning pedagogies and tools.

Any alumnus who would like a job in instructional design should check out the job listing at : .

eSports officially launched–What a party!

Hundreds enjoyed watching teams scrimmage on large screens.

Boise State’s eSports launch party was a hoot last night (10-3-2017). The goal must have been “go big or go home” because everything was extreme.

It was big. And they’re already thinking about doing it bigger next year—in Taco Bell Arena.

Four or five hundred students crowded into the student union’s ballroom to meet the university’s varsity team for intercollegiate competition in eSports.

The room was dark, except in front where three enormous screens lit half of the room. In front of the screens was an elevated podium where the two League of Legends teams faced the audience. Three play-by-play casters sat on the side.

Somewhere in the pre-game darkness, someone played music loud enough to make the walls vibrate.

In the back of the game cave, party-goers were treated to an endless supply of nutrition common to all-night gamers–popcorn (3 flavors), cookies (4 kinds), iced cans of Monster energy drinks, and a veritable buffet of Coke products. Monster and Coke are team sponsors.

Esports directors Chris Haskell and Brett Shelton, both faculty members in the EdTech Department, introduced the cool new game jerseys which got a great response from the crowd. Shelton noted that these jerseys feature both the Fierce Bronco head AND the academic B logo. This is the first time the university has allowed the two symbols to appear together.

Shelton also got the crowd going when he announced plans for an enormous game center on the second floor of Albertson Library. Teams would practice there and the crowd cheered when he said non-varsity players could use it, too.

Boise State teams will compete in Overwatch, Rocket League, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and League of Legends. The spotlight last night was on the League of Legends.

Haskell told the crowd that Boise State’s Maggie Borland is the first female team captain in all of eSports. She leads the Overwatch team, which has been invited to play at DreamHack in Denver later this month. DreamHack is one of the largest video game and eSports events in the country. The Boise State team will battle Utah in front of an estimated 40,000 viewers.

eSports launches initial season with a party

Boise State is celebrating the launch of its eSports program with a party. The campus event is scheduled from 7-10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, in the Student Union Building;s Jordan Ballroom.

The launch party is open to Boise State students, faculty, area high school students and the community and will feature a DJ, food, games, prizes and special guests.

The program plans to host teams of Boise State students who will compete in five games–League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Rocket League.

eSports teams compete in competitive video gaming as an officially sanctioned, varsity activity for undergraduate and graduate students. Teams are recruited and selected from current students who have part- or full-time status. eSports are not part of the Boise State Athletic Department nor currently organized or regulated by the NCAA, NAIA or other national governing body.

The Games Doctor Publishes New Textbook


Dr. Young Baek has published a new textbook on educational games.

Game-Based Learning: Theory, Strategies, and Performance Outcomes provides a much-needed guide to different forms and applications of digital games in teaching and learning. This book brings together researchers and practitioners from around the world who share their theories, strategies, findings of case studies, and practical approaches to support better performance and learning outcomes when learning with digital games.

Dr. Baek’s new book provides readers with three main sections of information. The first part provides a practical understanding of theory and research-based principles of game-based learning. This part overviews existing and emerging theories, which are presented in the form of case study findings and implications. The second part of the book gives readers the “how to” information to turn intellectual grounding into effective practice in digital game learning. The third and last part discusses practical approaches to help educators evaluate different aspects of learning within the context of game-based learning. Some topics covered in this book include:

  • Augmented reality game-based learning
  • The use of Amazon Echo in formal and informal learning
  • Distinction between game-based learning, serious games, and gamification
  • The importance of fun in gameplay
  • Collaboration, cooperation, and competition using mobile games
  • Effective design of instructional experiences in game-based learning
  • The Metagame
  • Practical approaches to evaluating learning with games

Digital games can help teach a wide variety of curriculum-specific content in academic disciplines, in addition to transferable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, or teamwork. Games can also be used to teach physical skills, cognitive strategies, and to change behaviors or attitudes. The value of game-based learning does not stop simply with their use as vehicles for delivering learning, but they can also be used as triggers for discussion or as a design activity where learning takes place through the design process.

Game-based learning is not just about teaching with games, but also about learning from games and applying gaming principles to teaching, and understanding the incidental learning that takes place while game play goes on, for example, the collaboration and mentoring that takes place in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). The case studies in this book explore game-based learning from a variety of perspectives, showing a range of different ways in which it can be applied to different teaching and learning context.

Problem-solving is a key goal of many types of games, be it strategic planning, lateral thinking, or how to work as a team to defeat a powerful enemy – which provides motivation and stimulus for learning.

Digital games are playing an increasing vital role in teaching and learning at all levels of education.

Dr. Baek is the director of the Game Studio, a research and development center in the Department of Educational Technology. He teaches introduction to Edutainment and Integrating Digital Games in the K-12 C

lassroom. Edutainment focuses on analyzing various types of entertainment tools to discover the qualities that make them fun. Then students attempt to incorporate these elements into learning activities.

This volume is Dr. Baek’s fourth textbook. It is priced at $279 from the publisher, Nova Science Publishers.

Great Tech Tools—Students share their faves

We recently asked our students to list their favorite EdTech tools on our new Facebook group for students, “We are EdTech Boise State.”  They listed more than 20 favorites, and you can add yours, too, or ask questions about these tools or anything else.

Here are a few of their responses. Watch for more in coming days.

Elijah Alquist just wrote “screencasts” but Tyler Isbell specified Screencastify and Heather Askea suggested Screencast-O-Matic and Loom. All three share a number of similarities. Screen and video sharing are key tools in flipping classrooms and providing verbal feedback on assignments—that ought to be a time-saver. These tools also help students practice speech and foreign language skills.

Jonathon Richter recommended Slack, which is an email alternative for work groups. Teachers and administrators could have their own communication channel instead of cluttering the already cluttered email browser. Or teachers could communicate with online students without cluttering the email.

Julia Hill suggested Remind, which helps teachers reach out to students and parents—for example—to remind students of homework assignments over a long weekend.

Daniel Flynn’s favorite is Google Keep. Funny he should say that because Sarah Wicks recommends Trello. Both are equally popular phone-based reminders of things to do.

Alex Rosenleaf likes Near Pod. This menu-driven alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint does not have an audio recorder, but it does allow you to drop in student polls, open-ended responses, or several kinds of quizzes. Alex teaches U.S. History at the high school level, and this tech tool enables his lessons to be more interactive and engaging. He just started using it this year, but he’s liking what he’s seeing so far.

If you haven’t yet joined “We are EdTech Boise State,” please check it out. It’s a great place to share ideas, tools, ask questions of other students, and meet students in any of EdTech’s three degree programs and four graduate certificate programs. Here is the URL.

A deeper perspective on maker education

EdTech’s Jackie Gerstein is featured in a thoughtful and nicely illustrated article on experiential learning, particularly learning in maker spaces, in KQED’s education blog, MindShift.

Gerstein, who teaches technology integration and professional network learning for Boise State EdTech, is an educator’s educator. Teachers will have a lot to think about while reading the article on framing and reflection, and making sure that learning is not left to chance.

Read the article at

MET grad is hot on Adobe Spark


George Phillips saw the call for favorite tech tools on Facebook, so he describes the features of Adobe Spark and explains how his students use the tool. An M.E.T. grad, he heads the social studies department and directs technology integration at The Stanley Clark School in South Bend, Indiana.


 One of the main tools my students like to use to demonstrate knowledge is Adobe Spark, which is actually a collection of creative apps (Page, Post, and Video) to create, collaborate, and show critical thinking. For this post, I will focus on the products of Page and Video.

If you have not used Adobe Spark before, it is both an iPad App (individual app for Post, Page, and Video) and a website. For now, I will focus on the website.

Adobe Spark Page

I like to relate Page to a visually attractive blog. My main focus with any content my students create is to tell a story, and stories are best told using images and voice. I have students use this tool to help illustrate their stories. Students mainly use images and embedded videos to assist with their storytelling.

Students like this tool because they can search Creative Commons-licensed photos and make a Works Cited page automatically. Page can also integrate into the photo feed on their laptops or Google Photos. One of the options students enjoy using the most is the Glide Show, featuring full screen images with captions for text, thus limiting students to the amount of information on the slide.

Also, when they transition to the next image, it “glides”, thus looking more professional. My students also like to embed YouTube, Vimeo, or Spark Video videos into their Spark Page. They can also insert text, buttons to link to other websites, insert just a single photo or a photo grid.

Photo journals, visual tours, and blogs are examples of ways my students have used this tool.

Adobe Spark Video

In general, Video can be used like presentation software such as Google Slides, Apple Keynote, or Microsoft PowerPoint. I encourage students to voice-over their slide decks and create videos.

They start by choosing a story template or to work from scratch. Themes are beneficial because they already have a layout to help students identify where information should go. Once my students have chosen their theme, they can add video (from a library on their computer), text, photos or icons from the Noun Project. Again, the program will create a Works Cited page for Creative Commons-licensed images and photos that are used in the project. If your students wish, they can also add music to the slides, though it can be distracting.

Once the students’ slide decks are completed, they can then record audio to describe each slide in the deck. When the audio is finished, a simple click on the preview button shows what the finished product looks like.

We have used this tool for vlogging reflections, replacing Google Slide presentations, book trailers, cooking demonstrations, visual tours, and vocabulary development.

General Information about both

Both programs allow you to share your information to the broader world if you choose. Since my school uses an LMS to communicate with parents and students, we embed their finished products into the LMS with ease and have an audience for our work.

The two issues you will want to consider when using Adobe Spark is that since my students are younger than 13, we have a classroom page set up and it does not allow collaboration in real time. Students have to take turns working on the documents.

If you want to give this awesome tool a go (I think of it like a Swiss Army Knife), here is a link to the Educators’ Guide for Adobe Spark.

EdTech grad rises from the ruins


Years ago, a studio photographer on the east coast reached out to us and said he’d been hired to teach photography at his alma mater on the west coast—with the proviso that he would earn a master’s degree.

He did. And in those days Boise State EdTech required a project instead of a portfolio. His was an excellent documentary video on the life of a pioneering wilderness photographer.

What happened next and what is happening now is a testament to the skills that Scott Miles learned at Boise State EdTech and blended with existing professional competence. And, he says, he continues to use those ed-tech skills every day.

What happened to Scott Miles?

First, his new expertise in technology-enhanced teaching was noticed and rewarded with a promotion. Within a year or so of graduating, he was named chair of his department at Brooks Institute, an iconic professional photography school in California.

Second, after close to a decade of teaching and leading at Brooks, he was given the opportunity—without precedence or blueprint—to develop a fully digital online master’s program in scientific and technological imaging.

His first cohort graduated just before the unimaginable happened.

According to, new owners of the for-profit school fired the president and closed the school last October.

Miles told us that “Many students in the other programs only had a semester or two to finish, but the new Brooks owners would not consider helping them finish. Some other schools in the area did offer to take these nearly finished students as transfers, and the faculty bent over backwards to help place students.

“I loved teaching at Brooks, and you could not ask for a better faculty, curriculum or learning environment to be part of.”

After the sudden shutdown, Miles said he applied for teaching positions at a number of colleges, but fall semester had already started and no one was hiring. So he did what perhaps he was meant to do.

What’s happening to Scott Miles now?

“I love producing photography and video, so I opened The Scientific Photographer to photograph collections for museums and private collectors and provide other cultural heritage imaging services.”

He recently completed several major projects, including photographing 700 artworks in two private collections. “It’s so satisfying to keep artists’ legacy alive by photographically cataloging their body of work. “

He’s also developing online professional development courses for scientific researchers and museum professionals. The courses will cover photography as a tool to support research and museum outreach.

To learn more about this EdTech alum’s new endeavor, go to and look at his photographs, watch the Focus on the Masters video that he directed, and sign-up for his newsletter, in which he shares helpful tips, interesting events, and stories that highlight photography, art, and artists.