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“An Actual Miracle:” Financial Aid Participation Verification

Boise State students on the quad at tables talking together

Students drop classes for many reasons and, if they receive financial aid, the Financial Aid office requests that instructors report on the students’ participation in class. This is known as the “Financial Aid Participation Verification” process. For face-to-face classes, this can be as simple as an instructor reporting the student’s participation in class. But how does an instructor report on class participation in classes that utilize Blackboard?

Until recently, Financial Aid Participation Verification for classes utilizing Blackboard was a long, laborious process involving the instructor, the Financial Aid office, and several departments within the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to report on a student’s participation–the process could take up to a week. Even once all of the OIT processes were completed, there was a final clunky process for instructors to retrieve the data for the Financial Aid Office. Too often, the process was abandoned.

In May, our Learning Technology Solutions (LTS) team streamlined this process by utilizing a standard report in Blackboard Analytics for Learn (A4L), our recently implemented analytics tool for Blackboard. The “Course Submission Summary” report provides instructors details on a student’s most recent interaction in a Blackboard course involving two steps on one easy-to-use screen.

The best part of this new process is that it is entirely self-service for instructors. Now when the Financial Aid Office requests participation details, instructors can simply use the Course Submission Summary report in Blackboard to provide the required details. Quick and done!

So far this summer, the Financial Aid Office reports 100% instructor response to financial aid verification requests. An employee in the Financial Aid Office sent an email to LTS recently with the subject line: Miracle!

It’s an actual miracle! Even with instructors notoriously being away for summer, they can easily retrieve the info and respond within minutes. And all of the responses have been succinct, confusion-free, and animosity-free!

But what does this mean for students? Many students who rely on financial aid face factors outside of classes that can compromise their ability to maintain course-load requirements for financial aid eligibility which results in the student dropping a class. The ease-of-use and minimal time required to report on class participation in Blackboard classes results in more students potentially recouping Financial Aid dollars that would have been sent back to the Federal Government in cases where the reporting process was abandoned.

We know we’ve already saved a lot time and email traffic with this new process and hope to provide more comprehensive numbers on its impact to students, instructors, and employees over the next few semesters. Watch OIT News [LINK] for details in the coming months. If you have additional questions about the Course Submission Summary report in Blackboard, contact the LTS team at

Recent IT Projects for Registrar, Academic Advising, and Extended Studies

OIT Projects

Our Project Management Office recently completed projects to help the Registrar’s Office and Academic Advising coordinate advising and scheduling of rooms based on student major changes; develop a report to help Extended Studies engage with students who have not registered in the past two years; and, facilitate an upgrade of the Nampa Gateway Bookstore’s point of sale network server.

Major Change Detail Report

Registrar’s Office and Academic Advising needed a report that captures students who have had a major change. This report was needed to coordinate advising, budgeting and scheduling of both rooms and faculty.

The Project Management Office and the Business Intelligence Reporting Services development team created a new report called Major Change Detail, which details instances where students add, drop and change majors.

This report will also be used by the College of Engineering to assist their advising efforts.

Discontinued Student Report

Extended Studies requested a report to identify enrolled students who have not registered for two years, to inform their student advising success team to reach out and provide awareness of offerings and opportunities.

The Project Management Office and the Business Intelligence Reporting Services development team created two new reports. The University-Wide Pre Discontinued Student List and Post Discontinued Student List reports will provide Extended Studies with the requested data.

These reports were also shared with the School of Nursing to assist their efforts to encourage students to continue and complete their program.

Nampa Gateway Bookstore Server Upgrade

The Nampa Gateway Bookstore location was running its point of sale system on old, out of warranty hardware and required a system upgrade to meet PCI compliance requirements.

The Project Management Office facilitated virtualization and migration of the point of sale system within the Office of Information Technology’s state of the art virtual server environment.

View the Status of Recent, Current and Upcoming Projects

Visit the Project Management Office website to view information about:

  • Active projects
  • Projects completed within the last 90 days
  • Projects expected to go live in the next 30 days
  • Project request backlog
  • SARB reviews completed in the last 30 days

For more information, contact the Project Management Office at or visit

New G Suite Features: Calendar, Forms, Sites and More

Google Calendar

Google recently added several new features and made improvements to G Suite!

Some of the highlights include:

Know when everyone has declined an event

Did you schedule a meeting that has low attendance? Google Calendar will let you know if everyone declined by flagging the event so you can cancel or reschedule.

Learn more about declined event notifications.

New features in Google Docs Activity dashboard

You can now email collaborators through the dashboard and see how many times a document has been viewed over time.

Learn more about seeing document views in the dashboard.

If you are unfamiliar with the Activity dashboard, you can read all about it on the G Suite blog.

Improvements to Quizzes in Google Forms

Quiz answer suggestions, autocomplete answers, automatic grading of certain question types, YouTube video feedback and more are helping to make quizzes easier to create and use in Forms.

Learn more about improves to quizzes in Google Forms.

Copy a site in the new Google Sites

The new version of Google Sites allows you to copy an existing site, rather than starting from scratch! You can create Site templates, and then copy them to quickly create new Sites.

Learn more about copying Google Sites.

Improved slide layouts in Google Slides

In addition to the improved layouts, it’s now easier to adjust and position objects, images and text boxes.

Learn more about improved slide layouts.

Need Assistance?

If you have questions about how to use these new features, contact the Office of Information Technology Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

Over One Million Served!

one million served

This month the Office of Information Technology celebrated receiving our millionth request for service and support from the Boise State campus community since 2011.

Our volume of support requests has increased 53% just within the past six years, and we’re expecting nearly 60,000 total requests in 2018!

Requests to Customer Care, 38,380 in the year 2012, and 58,890 projected for 2018.

Annual OIT requests since 2012. 38,380 requests in 2012, compared to nearly 60,000 projected for 2018.

Some of this increase is due to consolidating IT support throughout the University, but as Mark Fitzgerald, Director of Customer Care, points out, the services provided by OIT continue to grow with each passing year to meet escalating campus demand. “You look back 10 years and technologies in our classrooms were limited. Blackboard was still in its infancy, and we had just a handful of wireless access points around campus. Now, students come equipped with computers, tablets, and mobile devices, and faculty are leveraging technology for interactive classes.”

Boise State’s growth in programs, initiatives, buildings and students have also impacted service and support offerings. According to Fitzgerald, “All of this has led to a re-imagination of how we support campus. We have expanded our hours and added walk-in locations. In addition to phones and email, we now take requests through chat and our website.”

Adds University CIO Max-Davis Johnson, “What an amazing amount of support and work over the years! Thanks to everyone that has been a part of this.”

Contact the Office of Information Technology by phone, email, chat, or visiting our Zone locations in the the Student Union Building and Interactive Learning Center:

Get Help

Phone: (208) 426-4357 (HELP)
Chat: Chat with us
Summer Help Desk Hours: Mon – Fri 7 am – 6 pm / Sat and Sun 10 am – 5 pm

Find Us

The Zone – Interactive Learning Center, Room 128
Monday – Friday, 7 am – 6 pm / Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

The Zone – Student Union Building (Across from Bookstore)
Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm

Try the New Gmail


Students, faculty and staff can try out the latest version of Gmail by selecting Settings > Try the new Boise State University -Apps for Employees Email (or Boise State University BroncoMail Mail if you’re a student) at top-right within the Gmail application.

New Gmail features include:

For assistance using Gmail or any other G Suite apps at Boise State, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

Changes to Microsoft Office and Home Use Programs

Microsoft Office logo

Microsoft recently simplified Boise State’s Microsoft Office and Home Use programs. Your current Home Use or Student Advantage license is valid as long as you have an active Boise State account.

Students, faculty and staff may download and use Microsoft Office through the Student Advantage Office 365 ProPlus program. Faculty and staff may download and use Microsoft Visio or Microsoft Project through the Microsoft Home Use Program for $9.95.

You can find details about these programs on our website. If you have questions or need assistance with your Boise State Microsoft Office license, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

Digication is Going Away this Summer at Boise State


Boise State’s contract with Digication will expire in August 2018, and the service will no longer be supported after that date. The decision to end the Digication service involved student and faculty review, low usage by instructors, and the overall cost of the service.

Students can preserve saved e-portfolio(s) using either of the following options:

  1. Contact Digication directly at and request your e-portfolio content be maintained by Digication for a fee.
  2. Use the Download option in Digication, accessed through the “Portfolio Tools” tab on your e-portfolio. If you have problems downloading your content, please contact

If you need assistance with your Digication content, please schedule an appointment by contacting the Office of Information Technology at (208) 426-4446, or email

Max’s Minute: Students Supporting Students at Boise State

Students Support Students

In his latest video, Boise State CIO and Associate Vice President Max Davis-Johnson talks about how the Office of Information Technology relies on several dozen student employees to provide customer service, business intelligence, development services and more to our University community.

Students are core to our mission in OIT.

Video Transcript

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

Today I’m going to talk about students, and obviously students are why we’re here at Boise State. If students weren’t here I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here, these buildings wouldn’t be here.

Students are how we support students at Boise State. The students are a big part of our organization. Over a course of a semester we have 75 to 80 students working in OIT. They do a variety of different things for us. They work here helping support us in the Zone, where students can walk in and get support.

If you call the Help Desk odds are pretty strong that you’re going to get a student agent that’s going to answer your call, and they’ll do it very well. If you’re in classroom and there’s a technical issue we’ll dispatch a classroom support [specialist] within five minutes, and it’s typically a student that’s going to come and show and fix your problem.

We use students in other areas in the organization too. They are a big part of the web development team that do our web and mobile app development here at Boise State. They’re part of our Business Intelligence team.

Students are core to what we try to do here at Boise State.  They’re core in the fact that that’s who we support, and they’re core to how we support students. And faculty and staff!

Let’s go talk to some of our student developers here at Boise State.

So, one of the neat things about having students working in OIT is that when they graduate we’ve had an opportunity to hire a large number of them as full-time Boise State employees. We have developers that have become full-time Boise State employees, we have network engineers, we have system engineers. Our Deputy CIO was a student employee here at one time.

It’s really good. It’s good for the students, it’s good for us to be able when they graduate to hire them.

And so, I think what’s really neat too are some of the projects that our development team works on. Most of our web products or web apps have a student development component to them. One of the main things that this student team developed (and basically is all student developers) is that they wrote the interface between Blackboard grades and PeopleSoft grades,  and that’s something that faculty are using more and more. But essentially it’s “students schooling faculty,” and it’s one of our most highly used apps, especially during the grading period (which is basically coming up here).

So we’re really excited about the students, the work they do for us. We’re really excited that we can teach them skills, and even if you work in OIT and you don’t go on to a career in technology, most of our students have a basic understanding how to configure machines, how to load software, how to understand, you know, concepts from a technology standard. So it certainly helps them in their future careers whether they’re in technology or not.

Again, students are core to our mission here at Boise State. They’re core to why we’re here. At the same time, they’re core to how we support students, faculty, and staff.

Thank you.

Questions or Comments?

Max would love to hear from you at

Use Blackboard-to-PeopleSoft Grade Transfer App to Speed Up the Grading Process

Blackboard and PeopleSoft logos

Last semester, 161 instructors used the Blackboard-to-PeopleSoft Grade Transfer app to easily transfer grades for 337 courses. The app appears in the instructor view of myBoiseState for most faculty three days prior to the last date of instruction.

Once available, the tool allows instructors to transfer letter grades from Blackboard into PeopleSoft with just a few clicks.

Helpful Resources

For assistance, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

Recently Completed Projects

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:

Student Billing Data Report

The College of Business and Economics (COBE) requested development of a report for student billing detail, including:

  • Total fees/tuition
  • Waivers applied
  • Scholarships applied
  • Any other deductions applied
  • Bottom line total paid
  • Number of credits enrolled

The Project Management Office developed and delivered this report for COBE.

Honors College GPA

The Honors College requested a method to identify Honors students who are struggling through comparing semester by semester GPA.

The Project Management Office developed and implemented a solution for the Honors College.

Athletic Camps Application

OIT developed a new Athletics Camp application to replace an online form to register for individual and team camps.

The application provides for camp registration, uPay/TouchNet payments, and reporting available to Athletics business office, trainers, and camp directors.

Project Requests and Information

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