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Max’s Minute: Innovation is Not Only Technology

Max's Minute - Innovation is Not Only Technology

Boise State University CIO, Max Davis-Johnson, talks about how the Office of Information Technology leverages technology, process and people in innovative ways at Boise State.

Video Transcript of Max's Minute: Innovation is Not Only Technology

[inspirational music]

Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University Office of Information Technology.

Today I want to talk a little bit about innovation.

Some of the innovation that we do within Office of Information Technology. Certainly because of the ways technology changes, the new things that come out all the time, we have opportunities to innovate.

But, I think the important thing here is that we have to remember innovation is not only technology, it’s the process and the people involved with the technology that really drives the innovation that we’re trying to do.

So one of the areas we’re doing a lot of innovation in is in our web and mobile development areas using AWS or Amazon Web Services.

So one of the things we’re doing is the Anthropology department where we’ve delivered a mobile app called TAWKS. It tracks activity certain times during the day and essentially it’s collecting data that will be analyzed in the future.

We’re developing the new orientation system–it’s the registration system, it tracks them, it registers them, it collects money, it’s a very unique application to Boise State.

For the nursing program, the online nursing program here at Boise State, which is one of our largest online programs, we’ve delivered an online faculty database that has the potential to scale to the rest of the university over time.

Another application that we’re in the process of developing is in support of all the camps here, that happen in the summer here at Boise State. We need to be able to register potential campers, facilitate their experience here.

We’re also using the Amazon Cloud to move some of our, hosting of some of our core systems.

So, we’re doing a lot in the Amazon Cloud and will continue to do that.

Another area that we’ve done some innovative things in is in our classroom support model. Currently, OIT supports 150, directly supports, 150 classrooms here on campus. And of those classrooms, you know, we’re responsible for making sure all the technology works and there’s a large amount of technology in every classroom.

And so on a nightly basis, we will poll every classroom to make sure all the equipment is working. And this is all automated.

And basically what this has done, this has literally reduced the number of classroom support calls by 90 percent–the fact that we are proactively, through automation, resetting classrooms basically every night.

There’s any number of innovations that we do, some of it’s visible, some of it’s not. We’re going to continue to try new things, we’re going to continue to try new technology. Some of it’s going to work, some of it we will scale. Some of it, once we try it, we’ll go, hum, not so good. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying new things.

So again I appreciate you taking the time to listen and, until next time, thank you.

LTS is Here to Help Faculty with Classroom Technologies

Learning Technology Solutions offers technology help for teaching and learning

Spring 2018 is upon us and the Office of Information Technology Learning Technologies Solutions (LTS) team is here to help!

Semester kick-off meetings are a great opportunity to introduce your department to cool new (and sometimes old) technology tools and features that can improve both faculty and student experiences.

LTS would like to take this opportunity to offer our services for tailored-training that can be inserted into departmental/program meetings, regular staff meetings, or even for setting up special training sessions for your team.

Popular topics on campus this semester are:

  • Blackboard dashboard, retention center, and date management,
  • basic Blackboard training for teaching and graduate assistants,
  • using clickers in the classroom,
  • new features of the Techsmith Relay building block,
  • and much more!

To schedule a training session for your department, please email to let us know you are interested.

Technology Services and Resources for Students

Services for Students

When students see our Office of Information Technology sign at BroncoVenture orientation, the most common question we hear is, “So, what do you do?”

We do a lot! Of the 150+ services we provide to the Boise State community, we highlight these as a start:

Help Desk at the Zones

Our three campus Zone locations provide equipment checkout and personalized concierge, telephone, email, and chat support for all your Boise State technology needs. Receive one-on-one personal assistance for software and hardware technology issues, free malware and virus removal, and free hardware diagnosis.

There are three Zone locations:

  • Interactive Learning Center (ILC)
  • Student Union Building (SUB)
  • Micron Business and Economics Building (MBEB)

View Zone services and operating hours.

Free Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is free to all actively enrolled Boise State students, and you can install it on up to five devices.

Visit our Microsoft Office download page for details.


You can print, scan, copy and staple on over 50 BroncoPrint multifunction stations throughout campus. Students begin each semester with $15 in print funds on their Bronco Card.

Visit our BroncoPrint page for additional information.

Wi-Fi Tips

Boise State students, faculty and staff should use the eduroam wireless network (residence halls have a separate wi-fi network).

University friends and guests should use the Bronco-Guest wireless network.

Information about connecting to wi-fi at Boise State is available on our website.

myBoiseState Mobile

Boise State’s official mobile app provides campus maps integrated with student class schedules, course catalog, B Social access, athletics event schedules, and emergency and security contacts.

Download myBoiseState Mobile today for free from the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store.

The Office of Information Technology’s Website

Whether you’re searching for helpful information about how to use Blackboard Learn and Digication, want to know what software is available on the 500+ public computers located throughout campus, or want to set up your Boise State G Suite account with your phone or tablet, we’ve got you covered.

Check out our website to learn more, or just give us a call (or email or chat) and tell us what you need or want. We’re here for you!

Contact the Help Desk

Visit the Zone

  • Help Desk @ The Zone – Interactive Learning Center
    ILC, Room 128
    Monday – Thursday, 7 am – 10 pm / Friday 7 am – 6 pm / Sat & Sun, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Help Desk @ The Zone – SUB
    SUB, near Fresh Express
    Monday – Friday, 8 am – 8 pm
  • Help Desk @ The Zone – Micron Business & Economics Building
    Micron Business & Economics Building, First Floor, Jackson Commons and Third Floor, MBEB 3010
    Monday – Friday, 8 am – 6 pm

Accessible Org Charts for Everyone

accessible org charts

Most org charts on Boise State websites are in PDF or Lucidchart formats. While you can make PDF documents accessible using Acrobat DC Pro, that process will make the names and positions readable but likely won’t translate the organizational hierarchy for someone using access technology. (Lucidcharts aren’t accessible at this time.)

Luckily, simple tools have existed for over 20 years to convey hierarchical relationships on a web page: Headings and lists!

By using structured headings on your page, along with unordered (bulleted) lists, you can represent how your department or college is organized in a way that’s accessible to everyone. Use this method to create an accessible org chart and link to it as an option for those people who are unable to interpret a PDF or other visually-based document.

View an example on our website, and check out how the University of North Georgia makes their org charts accessible.

For questions about creating accessible organizational charts, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357, or email

New Features in Google Sheets

Google Sheets

Google is releasing a handful of new features this week for Sheets. Google Sheets are created and accessed through Google Drive.

Simplified Pivot Tables

Pivot tables have been available in Sheets for some time now, and now Google will suggest pivot tables for you to use with your data.

You can now also use natural language to ask questions of your data and view answers in a pivot table format.

Intelligent Formula Suggestions

In addition, Sheets now uses machine intelligence to suggest formulas for you to use when you type “=” within a cell.

Google has information about these changes along with several other new features on their blog, including customizable headings, format options for pivot tables, waterfall charts, and improvements for importing or pasting fixed-width formatted data.

Training and Assistance

Learn how to use Sheets or any other G Suite application with the G Suite Learning Center.

For information about using G Suite applications at Boise State, contact the Help Desk at, or call (208) 426-4357.

Update on Mac OS X High Sierra


Due to security issues with macOS 10.13 High Sierra, the Office of Information Technology is postponing support for this latest version of the operating system until January 2018.

We anticipate a few more weeks of testing and patching.

Information about High Sierra is available on Apple’s website.

For questions or further information, please contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357, or email

Faculty Workshops: Leverage Blackboard and iClicker for Efficiency and Engagement

LTS Presents Faculty Workshops on Blackboard and iClicker REEF

Our Learning Technology Solutions team presents upcoming workshops for faculty on time-saving gradebook features in Blackboard, and using iClicker Reef in the classroom for student engagement.

Prepping Your Blackboard Course for Spring

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 11 – 11:30 a.m.
River Front Hall, room 301 or virtual meeting

Get your course ready for Spring Semester by cleaning up content and implementing course-copy best practices. This workshop will help you streamline course management and minimize frustration by getting a head start and avoiding common mistakes.

Register on the OIT website.

Managing Grades in Blackboard Using the New Blackboard-to-Peoplesoft Grade Transfer Tool

Thursday, Dec. 7, 11 – 11:30 a.m.
River Front Hall, room 301 or virtual meeting

Simplify your gradebook so that it is easier to manage and use the new Grade Transfer feature in myBoiseState. The Grade Transfer feature saves you time by sending all of your student grades from Blackboard to PeopleSoft in just a few clicks.

Register on the OIT website.

Key Insights from the Faculty Learning Community on Clickers and Student Response

Two times: Friday, Dec. 8, 9:30 – 11 a.m. and Friday, Dec. 8, 1:30 – 3 p.m.
Interactive Learning Center (ILC), room 315

This fall, a group of selected faculty members met as a learning community where they shared their best practices and techniques using our student response system iClicker Reef. The community was sponsored and facilitated by OIT’s Learning Technology Solutions, with a grant from McMillan Education.

The group will share how they utilize iClicker Reef in the classroom, including how to effectively engage and poll students in the class, track student understanding, address misconceptions, encourage attendance and give every student a voice.

Register through OrgSync.

One-On-One Assistance

Schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our technologists or just stop by during one of our scheduled Drop-In Sessions.

Contact LTS

If you have questions about these Blackboard and iClicker Reef sessions, contact Learning Technology Solutions at

Get Insights Into OIT Projects Through Our Project Management Office


Our Project Management Office (PMO) is constantly updating information on projects we’ve recently completed, projects coming up in the next month, and all of the active project requests in our queue.

Boise State faculty and staff can view this information on the Project Management Office’s website.

The following projects were recently implemented:

  • Replacement of Campus Operator
  • Enhancements to the Major Change application
  • Development of a report to identify the number of times a student has been on probation
  • College of Engineering: Enhance outreach to students in academic distress

Currently, the PMO is actively working on 50 projects, with up to 21 additional projects scheduled to go live in the next 30 days.

Add another 47 project requests awaiting review and prioritization, and the scale of the PMO’s workload becomes clear. Director Diana Nydegger and her experienced team keep it all under control by adhering to a comprehensive project lifecycle process.

If you have questions about OIT projects or want more information, contact the Project Management Office directly at

Network Systems Maintenance November 20-22

System engineer works on a network router

The Office of Information Technology will upgrade Boise State’s network Monday through Wednesday, November 20-22.

Monday, November 20

Riverfront Hall network and internet access will be unavailable 6:00 am – 6:30 am.

Tuesday, November 21

Wi-Fi will coverage may be spotty between 3:00 am – 5:00 am.

Monday, November 20 – Wednesday, November 22

Intermittent network outages of 5-20 minutes will occur during normal business hours in the following buildings:

  • Charles P. Ruch Engineering Building
  • Communication Building
  • Environmental Research Building
  • Ron and Linda Yanke Family Research Park
  • Science Building

For additional information, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357, or email


Max’s Minute: The OIT Strategic Plan

Boise State University CIO, Max Davis-Johnson, talks about the Office of Information Technology (OIT) strategic plan, governance partners, and the continuous evolution of technology in relation to the OIT strategic plan.

You can view the OIT strategic plan on our website. You may comment on the plan by emailing Max Davis-Johnson, CIO, at

Video Transcript

[inspirational music]

>> MAX: Today I’m going to talk a little bit about our strategic plan.

TITLE: Max’s Minute November 2017

Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University Office of Information Technology.

TITLE: How often does OIT review its strategic plan?

We do an annual update. We try to take a five-year view and layout a framework for where we want OIT to go.

TITLE: What informs the Office of Information Technology (OIT) strategic plan?

We have our mission, our values, our core beliefs. We have our core objectives.

We try very hard to align those with the University’s strategic plan.

The University strategic plan has been relatively stable over the last number of years, so these parts of our plan have been stable too.

What we try to do, especially within each of our objectives, is identify projects and initiatives, short-term and long-term, long-term being five-year view of what we see, of what we think we need to accomplish in each in these core areas.

And all this is based on our mission, our values, our vision, and sort of our core tenets.

TITLE: Do campus partners review the strategic plan?

We work with ITGC, IT Governance Council. We work with the ITPC, IT Planning Council to sort of help affirm, confirm these that we’re on the right track, that we’re doing the right thing.

TITLE: Does the plan change to accommodate new technology?

The very nature of technology: it’s changing, it’s evolving, and it’s one of the reasons we need to continue to evolve our strategic plan.

Technology is a core part of what we do at work. It’s a core part in our personal lives at home.

Our goal is to make technology so it’s not, it’s an enabler, it’s a tool, but it doesn’t get in the way of you doing your job.

TITLE: Does the strategic plan provide a framework for decision making?

Each of us, not just OIT, but all other departments and colleges on campus, we’re continually being asked to do more. And we’re being asked to do more and we don’t necessarily have more money, i.e. resources, to get this done.

So it’s very important that we have a framework that we can continually go back to and say, you’re asking, we’re trying to do this, is this part of our plan, our strategy moving forward?

It helps us balance and bring some framework, some consistency, to what we do as a department for the University moving forward.

TITLE: Can I view and comment on the OIT strategic plan?

This plan is posted on our OIT website,

I encourage you to go out and look at it. We’re always looking for feedback on this. We want to make sure we’re on the right track. It’s important that we do hear from anybody that’s interested in the plan. If there’s adjustments we need to make, if there are things we aren’t focusing on, again, we want to know this.

We’ll continue to review this with our guidance councils, our governance council, our priority council, and other constituents on campus as we go forward.

This plan is important to us. I want it to be important to you too. So, take a look when you get a chance.