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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.

EdTech’s Lowenthal part of NSF grant on teaching math

Smiling people posed by the B

From left: Tatia Totorica, Michele Carney, Laurie Cavey and Patrick Lowenthal.

Boise State EdTech Associate Professor Patrick Lowenthall is part of a $1.6 million National Science Foundation grant to improve math education.

The four-year project will design and use video-based learning environments and online components to help prospective teachers better understand and respond to student thinking. This will make teachers better equipped to hone students’ informal and formal reasoning related to key mathematical ideas, including students’ thinking about functions.

The project is one of many examples of how educational technology can improve learning in all fields of study.

Other Boise State researchers include Laurie Cavey, an associate professor of mathematics, Michele Carney, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and foundational studies; and Tatia Totorica, a clinical instructor in the IDoTeach program. They are joined by Jason Libberton, a regional math specialist with Idaho State University.

How successful grad students cope

Educators investigating Boise State’s renowned graduate programs in educational technology often say they work fulltime before asking how much time the program requires.

[At Boise State EdTech, almost all students work fulltime because we cater to working professionals who commit to about 10 hours per course per week in the fall and spring semesters.  The commitment doubles in the short summer sessions.]

EdTech students who have shared their struggles and strategies over the years seem to grasp a common thread to help them cope. The strands of that thread are attitude, organization, self-motivation, and grit.

Katie Severson summed up the nature of grad school in four other words. “It can be overwhelming.” But, she adds, if you prioritize your time and look at big-picture goals rather than day-to-day struggles, “you will accomplish more than you ever thought you could.”

“I have to admit it has been more challenging than I expected,” wrote Marco Armienta. “The level of the courses and assignments is very high and you really have to dedicate a lot of time to each course. At the same time, I feel like I’m really learning, and each module is very rewarding when I look at the outcomes.”

By all accounts, it’s worth it.

Katie Swanson Sathre: “The key is treating education like it’s a gift to yourself and not an obligation.”

Amie Cuhaciyan: “The thing that keeps me going is the sense of accomplishment that I feel.”

Sallie Draper: “I’m already seeing the benefits of the work I’m doing for class. I have learned so much that applies directly to my job responsibilities that it’s almost as if the class is an extension of my work.”

Natalie Burr: “I am using the craziness of my life to teach my children that even when we are struggling, we persevere and finish everything we start. Hard isn’t a reason to not start, nor is it a reason to quit.”

Megan Turner. “I think it is important for my kids to see my love for learning, which includes struggles along the way. I am excited to be working toward my goal and enhancing my abilities as a teacher.”

You have to know that good things are going on

EdD grad Dwayne Ockel of Colorado.

EdD grad Dwayne Ockel of Colorado.

When 11 students and faculty members from Boise State University—five of them from EdTech—win top awards at AECT, you know that something good is going on.

Boise State doctoral student Dwayne Ockel tied for first place in the Outstanding Performance by a Graduate Student in Instructional Design Award at AECT, the Association for Educational Communication and Technology.

Ockel’s co-winners are Kara Rutherford, Beverly Naylor, and Tammy Wheeler, who are graduate students in Boise State’s Department of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning.

Other Boise State winners include:

EdTech Department Head Brett Shelton, who won the Outstanding Practice Award for software development. Shelton became the first developer in the world to use relational GPS in an educational game.  Called CGX, for Grand Canyon Expedition, the game virtually places students inside the Grand Canyon where they study geology.

Associate professors Patrick Lowenthal and Chareen Snelson, who won first place for qualitative journal articles in distance education.  Their article was titled: In search of a better understanding of social presence: An investigation into how researchers define social presence.

And, Patrick Lowenthal, who also won second place in the application section for journal articles in distance education. He teamed up with Ken-Zen Chen of National Chiao Tung University in South Korea, and with Boise State colleagues Christine Bauer, Allan Heaps, and Crystal Nielsen. Their article was titled: Moving beyond smile sheets: A case study on the evaluation and iterative improvement of an online faculty development program.

AECT was the first professional organization in educational technology and remains one of the largest. It is recognized internationally for promoting high standards in scholarship and practice in educational technology. Winners will receive their awards in November at the association’s international convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

How to forward your email, never miss anything

Every year, students miss important information from the EdTech Department (or the university) because they forget to check their student email accounts.

Here’s an easy solution. Forward your university email to your personal email account. Here’s how.

Turn on automatic forwarding

  1. On your computer, open Gmail, using the account you want to forward messages from (ie: your BroncoMail account). You can only forward messages for a single Gmail address, and not an email group or alias.
  2. In the top right, click Settings .
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP
  5. In the “Forwarding” section, click Add a forwarding address.
  6. Enter the email address you want to forward messages to.
  7. Click Next Proceed  OK.
  8. A verification message will be sent to that address. Click the verification link in that message.
  9. Go back to the settings page for the Gmail account you want to forward messages from, and refresh your browser.
  10. Select Forward a copy of incoming mail to.
  11. Choose what you want to happen with the Gmail copy of your emails. We recommend Keep Gmail’s copy in the Inbox.
  12. At the bottom of the page, click Save Changes.

Turn off automatic forwarding

  1. On your computer, open Gmailusing the account you want to stop forwarding messages from.
  2. In the top right, click Settings .
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP 
  5. In the “Forwarding” section, click Disable forwarding.
  6. At the bottom, click Save Changes.