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OIT Offers Micro-Certification for Web Accessibility

Accessible Technology

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is pleased to announce a free course to achieve a Micro-Certification Badge for Web Accessibility, a new professional development opportunity for staff and faculty that is the first of its kind at Boise State University.

Enrollment and requirements are available through Boise State’s WebGuide site:

The course was designed and developed by Carolyn Quintero and Tammy Schmidt to document, assess, and validate accessible web design skills utilizing industry and disciplinary defined standards for Boise State’s WordPress environment via a flexible online format.

Carolyn is a Web Accessibility Analyst in OIT and has nearly a decade of experience in online education and student support, and a Masters of Arts in Technical Communications. Tammy is an Accessibility and Training Specialist OIT and has over 25 years of experience in instructional design and training, and a Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Performance Technology.

Boise State’s Commitment to Web Accessibility

Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, once said, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” (

This quote encompasses the spirit in which this badge course was created. One of the major goals of this course is to recognize users who create and publish accessible, inclusive content on the web. By providing real-world experience and exercises for users to hone their basic technology skills and incorporate best practices for web design into every aspect of their process, the Web Accessibility Micro-Certification Badge Course is helping Boise State reach its goal of an inclusive web environment.

According to Boise State University Policy 8140, “The University is committed to supporting an information technology (IT) environment that is accessible to all, and in particular to individuals with disabilities.”

Since 2016, Boise State has made concerted efforts to ensure that all web content published on our public-facing sites are accessible for all users. With over 42,000 individual webpages, 57,000 image and media files, and 217,000 hyperlinks, this is no small task.

While the Office of Information Technology and Office of Communications and Marketing have collaborated to host a series of in-person training sessions on topics covering web accessibility, we realize not all staff and faculty are able to attend these sessions.

As a result, OIT has created this new professional development opportunity for web accessibility.

What People Are Saying

This course is the first of its kind at Boise State in that it is designed specifically for the needs of our web community, as well as the first University-designed professional development opportunity for faculty and staff offering a micro-certification badge.

As part of the design process, the course was tested for accessibility and usability with a variety of different stakeholder audiences.

Here’s what they had to say:

I understand the importance of making our content accessible to everyone, but I haven’t always known the best way to turn this goal into a reality. I’m excited about the micro certification badge because it offers a real-world training on how to make our accessibility efforts more effective and create a better experience for all our users. The opportunity to demonstrate professional development is a real bonus as well!James Munkres, Promotions Coordinator, School of Public Service

The Web Accessibility Badge is essential professional development. It will help ensure that our Boise State staff and faculty have the 21st century skills needed for online communication and education!Betty Miller, Online Faculty/Technology Manager, School of Nusing

Accessibility is about user experience which is crucial in my work. I can’t wait to add this training to my professional development portfolio.Kris Sansing, Director, Communications, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

I’m impressed by the diligence that has gone in to developing the first accessibility badge for Boise State. This is a great professional development opportunity for anyone who wants to show their commitment to accessibility, and to prove competence in this extremely important subject.Teri Williams, Director of Web Strategy, Office of Communications and Marketing

This new professional development opportunity is representative of the Office of Information Technology’s innovation, flexibility, and commitment to ensure access to Boise State’s web content is available to all.Max Davis-Johnson, Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President

More Information

For more information about the Web Accessibility Micro-Certification Badge course, visit WebGuide or email

Upcoming Learning Technology Solutions Workshops

Classroom Technology Workshops

The semester is nearing the end and it’s time to start looking to final grades and course wrap-ups. Faculty are invited to consult the Learning Technology Solutions team during one of our upcoming 30-minute workshops:

Managing Grades in Blackboard

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

  • Monday, April 2, 12:30 pm-1:00 pm
  • Wednesday, April 4, 10:30 am-11:00 am
  • Thursday, April 12, 10:30 am-11:00 am
  • Thursday, April 12, 1:30 pm-2:00 pm
  • Monday, April 16th 1:30pm-2pm
  • Wednesday, April 18, 10:30 am-11:00 am
  • Wednesday, April 25, 1:30 pm-2:00 pm

For registration, visit

Preparing for Next Semester

Get your Blackboard course ready for next semester by cleaning up content and implementing course-copy best practices. Our workshop helps you streamline course management and minimize frustration by getting a head start on the next semester and avoiding common mistakes.

  • Wednesday, April 4, 1:00 pm-1:30 pm
  • Thursday, April 5, 10:30 am-11:00 am
  • Monday, April 9, 12:30 pm-1:00 pm
  • Tuesday, April 10, 10:00 am-10:30 am
  • Tuesday, April 17, 1:30 pm-2:00 pm
  • Thursday, April 19, 10:30 am-11:00 am
  • Monday, April 23, 1:30 pm-2:00 pm

For registration, visit

Additional Assistance

Learning Technology Solutions supports many different classroom technologies on campus. If you ever need technical assistance with Blackboard, Techsmith Relay, Qualtrics, or iClicker, schedule a one-on-one consultation with an LTS technologist. We’ll will meet with you face-to-face, over the phone, or internet hangout to answer your questions.

To schedule a consultation, visit the LTS Website at, or select the Help tab in Blackboard and click on the One-on-One Consultation button.

Beware of Tax Scams, Phishing and Identity Theft

avoid tax scams

Tax Scams

Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.

Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These phishing schemes may seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

Be alert to bogus emails that appear to come from your tax professional, requesting information for an IRS form.

Variations can be seen via text messages. The IRS is aware of email phishing scams that include links to bogus web sites intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” These emails are not from the IRS.

The sites may ask for information used to file false tax returns or they may carry malware, which can infect computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.

There’s one thing all attackers have in common and that is the desire to steal your personal information. Online, criminals often use a “phishing” scam to acquire sensitive passwords, banking, and identity information. As we move into this tax season keep these tips in mind to make sure you stay safe and secure.

Identity Theft

Identity theft can be extremely damaging to its victims. Even if you protect yourself online there are precautions you should take in real life to avoid anyone getting your information as well.

  • Read your monthly statements carefully. Review bank, credit card, and pay statements, as well as other important personal accounts (e.g., health care, social security). If a statement has mistakes, charges you don’t recognize, or doesn’t arrive when expected, contact the business.
  • Shred outdated documents. Make sure you shred any documents that show sensitive financial or medical information before you throw them away.
  • Be careful when sharing personal info. Avoid texts or phone messages that ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, password, or account number. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information in this way.
  • Keep personal information private. Limit what you share on social media. For instance, don’t share your vacation pictures publicly until you return home (so thieves don’t target your empty home).


“Phishing” refers to an attack that uses email or a messaging service that tricks or fools you into taking an action, such as clicking on a link or opening an attachment. Attackers work hard to make their phishing emails convincing. For example, they will make their email look like it came from someone or something you know, such as a friend or a trusted company you frequently use. They will even add logos of your bank or forge the email address so the message appears more legitimate.

How to Recognize Phishy Emails

Having your sensitive information taken can be frightening. Fortunately, there are ways to identify false emails.

  • Beware sketchy messages. Phishy messages may include a formal salutation, overly-friendly tone, grammatical errors, urgent requests, or gimmicks.
  • Avoid opening links and attachments. Even if you know the sender, don’t click on links that could direct you to a bad website. And do not open attachments unless you are expecting a file from someone.
  • Verify the source. Check the sender’s e-mail address to make sure it’s legitimate. Official organizations shouldn’t be sending emails from personal addresses such as,, or
  • If in doubt, just delete the message. Be conscious of the links you click on and don’t input passwords or other important information into websites you don’t know.

Need Assistance?

For questions about the legitimacy of email, attachments, or other suspicious information, contact our Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

Introducing the New Google Hangouts Chat

Google Hangouts Chat

Google’s new Hangouts Chat application is now available for Boise State students, faculty and staff.

Hangouts Chat is an expansion and enhancement of the classic Google Chat service that gives you the ability to message groups and teams, in addition to messaging others one-to-one.

With Hangouts Chat, you can upload items from Google Drive, collaborate on Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and do group video chats in Hangouts Meet.

“Bots” are featured in Hangouts Chats. The @Meet bot interacts with Google Calendar to schedule meetings and events, while the @Drive bot notifies you if a file is shared, comments are added, or if others request access to documents. 28 languages are currently supported in Hangouts Chat, and each chat room can have up to 8,000 participants.

Hangouts Chat is available on iOS, Android and the web. On the web, visit Or, download the app for your desktop or smartphone.

Reference the Hangouts Chat Cheat Sheet to learn how to create chatrooms, send group messages, and use Google Drive files in chat.

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

Max’s Minute: Top Issues in Higher Ed Technology

Educause recently published their annual “Top 10 Issues in Higher Education Technology” article. In this Max’s Minute video update, CIO Max Davis-Johnson, discusses how the Office of Information Technology addresses these issues at Boise State.

How are we doing? Please send your thoughts on how we’re doing to

Video Transcript: Max's Minute: Top Issues in Higher Ed Technology

>> Max Davis-Johnson: Because we all want to educate and we all want to help improve society.

TITLE: Boise State University, Office of Information Technology, Max’s Minute, March 2018

>> Max: Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University, Office of Information Technology. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about Educause and specifically about the Educause Top Ten IT Issues.

Basically, every higher ed institution in the country is part of the organization, and their focus is higher ed technology. What’s neat about higher ed technology is that we share our successes, we share how we do things, we share our failures. But the important this is that we share.

And Educause is a national organization that helps facilitate that sharing of IT knowledge across all institutions. And some of that goes back to the fact that we all have a common mission. And so that’s sort of what drives Educause as an organization.

Educause does produce a monthly magazine and this particular magazine focuses on the top ten issues here, top ten IT issues. Ten years ago, probably a lot more technology specific, more concerned about issues with certain technology. Now as you look at it you can see technology has somewhat matured in higher ed and so there’s more concern about how we use that technology, are we using, doing the right technology, whether the processes and the people that are behind that technology.

So, one of the big issues that basically keeps me up at night, and again we’re talking IT issues here across higher ed, is the concept of institutional-wide IT strategy which is basically, “repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner in institutional leadership in achieving institutional missions.”

As OIT goes down their path, are we meeting the needs, institution wide, of the university? And, how do we approach that, how do we check, how do we get verification, how do we get input in the direction that we’re going?

And so we do rely on two organizations here, or high level committees: ITPC which is IT Planning Committee. And then at a higher level we also have ITGC, or the IT Governance Council, which basically consists of the University VP’s. Again, they approve basically what we’re bringing forward from ITPC, they help us define policy. One of their goals is to make sure we are aligning ourselves with the institutional goals. And so we do rely heavily on those.

So, the second Educase top ten IT issue that resonates with me and certainly is a primary focus is our IT staffing and organizational model. At the end of the day, the biggest asset we have is the people in OIT, the work they do, the skill level they have, the broad range of talent they have. And making sure that there’s a progression path for folks in IT. Making sure that people are in the right position, that we’re playing to people’s strengths, that’s very critical. Making sure they understand what the expectations are.

And I’ve said this a few times before, it’s not necessarily technology that drives us, but it’s the combination of technology, process, and people, and people being the key component.

So, to summarize: these are all important issues. I encourage you to go out, and we’ll provide a link to these issues. Certainly we’d like some feedback. If you think we’re not addressing these issues properly, let me know. And we’ll see what we can do to move forward. Not necessarily mediating, because some of these issues will never go away, but addressing them as appropriate and hopefully making them less of an issue than they are now.

Thank you.

The Imagination Lab: Innovation Through Standardization


The Imagination Lab at Boise State - image of Albert Einstein with physics equations

On the second floor of the Skaggs Hall of Learning in the Micron Business and Economics Building (MBEB) is a space called “The Imagination Lab.” At first glance, this space is like any other rectangular room on campus, but the way faculty in the College of Business and Economics (COBE) use the space is quite innovative. This presented a challenge for the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to become more innovative in our approach to delivering classroom technology.

Mark Fitzgerald, Director of OIT’s Customer Care department, tells us the origin story of the space. “When the college built the Imagination Lab, they made a choice not to bring in any technology. They wanted a blue sky room in which they could use clear thinking and generate new ideas.” He explains that part of the reason they did not originally plan to have projectors, display screens, or doc cams was that the technology at that time did not provide the flexibility desired for the space.

For example, along one wall of The Imagination Lab are five breakout rooms with names such as Anti-Complacency Room, Reverse Thinking Room and Aha Room. The idea is that faculty can have students break into groups during class and then reconvene in the main space to present their discoveries.

About five years after The Imagination Lab was built, faculty and departments had developed a clear idea of how they use this space. So Fitzgerald sat down with COBE and asked, “what is it that you would like to accomplish?” Fitzgerald says, “As they described a room, they kept using words like ‘flexible,’ and being able to move things around, being able to have it different every time that we come into the room.”

“This was a little bit at odds with our desire to keep everything standard,” Fitzgerald explains. For a small team of classroom technology and audio visual experts who maintain technology in over 150 classrooms, this seemed an impossible request.* But as he thought about it an idea begin to form and he wondered, “What if we could accomplish both?”

Fitzgerald and his audio visual and classroom support teams sat down with faculty and departments in COBE and developed a plan for the room using the standard components used in all general classrooms, but that could be set up in a flexible manner.

The Imagination Lab features technology common to all Boise State’s general classrooms such as a projector, screen, document camera and computer. But where OIT innovated was to add ports throughout the room so people can connect up to five TV’s on wheels and place these anywhere in the space as required. The TV’s can also be easily moved into the breakout rooms where students can connect their personal laptops for group work. Students can then present to the entire class via the projector and screen using a laptop or the computer in the room.

Additionally, OIT installed speakers in the ceiling throughout the room and added wireless microphones so it’s easy to hear and present from anywhere in the room.

“We subverted the idea of the front of the room,” Fitzgerald explains. “Not only did we equip one room, we ended up equipping six different rooms to be able to do different technology and then come back as a big cohesive group.” And all using standard equipment that is easy and cost effective to maintain and replace over time.

COBE utilizes The Imagination Lab for teaching and learning as well as public events and hosting guest speakers. Boise State’s CIO Max Davis-Johnson sums it up best, “So what’s really interesting I think about this room is the fact that it’s technology designed to accommodate the space. Being able to standardize technology that can fit the flexibility of the entire room, I think that is true innovation.”

* In 2016, OIT Customer Care teams completed a technology standardization project that simplified hardware and interfaces in Boise State’s general classrooms and which has resulted in an almost 90% reduction in calls to the Help Desk regarding technology issues in these classrooms.

Free Microsoft Office Online Learning

Microsoft Office 365 Training

Need to learn how to create a pivot table?

Want to analyze and chart data in your spreadsheet?

Asked to add video and audio to a PowerPoint presentation?

You can find free self-paced, 24/7 tutorials on these topics and more at Microsoft’s updated online learning site. Visit for self-paced learning resources covering Excel, OneNote, Access, Word, PowerPoint and more.

For additional information about using Microsoft Office at Boise State, including how to download free copies for personal use, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or


Adding Comments to Microsoft Files (and more) in Google Drive

Drive Collaboration Header

Google has added a new feature to Google Drive! You can now add comments to Microsoft Office files, PDFs, images, and other files types stored in Drive. The best part? You don’t even have to convert the files to a Google file type first!

Adding a comment works just like it does for a Google Doc or Sheet:

  1. In Drive, double-click the file you want to comment on.
  2. Select the Add comment button at upper-right.
  3. Select the text or cell you want to comment on.
  4. Enter the comment and select Comment.

Comments will show up in the Drive preview pane and can be replied to just like other comments.

For more information on commenting on Microsoft files in Drive, visit Google’s website or contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

Project Updates for February 2018

Project Management Office

Status information about individual projects is available through the Office of Information Technology’s Project Management Office website at

You can view projects scheduled to go live in the next 30 days, active projects, requested projects, and projects completed in the last 90 days.

The following represent a few of the projects recently completed by the Project Management Office :

Modify EAF to Route to Budget Office Only

Previously, EAF’s (Electronic Authorization Forms) were set up so that at a minimum all requests went through the Office of the Provost and the Budget Office. Often there are changes such as title or minimal pay rates that only need to go to the Budget Office for approval, rather than route back through the entire approval workflow.

The Project Management Office implemented this change at the request of the Office of Human Resource Services.

myInsights Report: Letter of Appointments

The Division of Extended Studies processes approximately 1,200 Letters of Appointment (LOAs) annually.

The previous process for creating LOAs relied upon manipulating data received from three PeopleSoft queries, requiring manual maintenance of a master LOA spreadsheet, and utilized information from multiple PeopleSoft data sources to compile the information needed to produce and distribute LOAs.

That process carried a high degree of risk for missing or incorrect data due to manipulating an existing PeopleSoft query, pulling in incorrect data sources when combining multiple data queries, and producing incorrect payroll distributions for employees. The process was also time consuming, and there was not a single source of data containing the information needed to evaluate and issue the LOAs.

A myInsights report was created to provide detailed information regarding class data, revenue, and estimated costs on a frequent basis (estimated bi-weekly) so academic chairs and deans could strategically look at classes to determine whether to prorate or cancel classes.

The Project Management Office implemented this change at the request of the Division of Extended Studies.

Integrate Housing Data with Data Warehouse

The Division of Student Affairs needed to include demographic data in their reporting from PeopleSoft.

At the request of Student Affairs, an interface was created to import demographic data to the data warehouse, and an edit was made to existing enrollment reports to include housing data.

This integrated solution benefits Housing and Residential Life, Admissions, Enrollment Services and Institutional Research.

The Project Management Office implemented this change at the request of Housing and Residential Life.

Project Requests and Information

To submit a project for consideration, or for additional information about our Project Management Office, visit

Email Google Team Drive Members

Google Team Drive

Google Team Drives are in use throughout the Boise State campus, but until recently there was no easy way to send a direct email to all members of a team.

There is now an Email members selection under the “Team Drives” menu.

You can also select File > Email Collaborators within any document that is part of a Team Drive.

There are several options within each of these features, including emailing only those individuals with specific Team Drive access.

For more information on how to setup and use Team Drives, visit the G Suite Learning Center, or contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or