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Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed, Part I

Boise State University CIO Max Davis-Johnson talks about the future of technology in higher education in Part I of this multi-part video series.

Max introduces us to the ways we can approach the future and how the Office of Information Technology prepares for, and in some cases, creates the future for technology at Boise State.

He also discusses the diversity of technology utilized in higher ed and how the Office of Information Technology at Boise State approaches the design, maintenance, and support of the technology we use on campus.

Transcript: Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed, Part I

>> MAX: I’m going to talk about the future of technology in higher ed.

>> TITLE: Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed: A Multi-Part Series

>> MAX: Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University.

I’m going to talk about the future of technology in higher ed. It’s not, there’s subtle difference here, it’s not the future of OIT at Boise State, it’s the future of technology in higher ed.

There are a number of different approaches you can take with the future.

You can ignore it, which you probably don’t want to do.

You can predict it. And predicting can be good, especially if you happen to hit what’s going to happen, but if you miss–you have to be a little cautious there.

You can prepare for the future. And, I think, that’s the focus of what I’m going to talk about, is how we can prepare for the future of technology in higher ed.

And we can create the future. And, hopefully, we’re doing a little bit of that as we move forward.

So, I think to start out with, there’s some basic assumptions about technology in higher ed.

I’ve talked in the past about technology but it’s also important to remember technology is technology, people, and process. And, really to be successful, you need all three.

You can have great technology, but if you have bad processes or bad people, your technology isn’t going to work. Sometimes your processes and your people can make up for bad technology, but typically the process then will be a work around, it’s not effective or efficient.

And you can have people that make up for a lot of bad processes and people over time get burned out and it’s just not a good situation to be in.

The whole idea is here as we look to the future, is we want to be able to not only create the future, but we want to be able to prepare for the future.

Another key assumption that I think is important, and I’ve talked about this even more than that one, is the idea that technology in higher ed is unique.

Any single technology in higher ed you can see at various places and industry. It’s rare when you see the fact that we have transactional systems, where we have classroom technology, we have learning management systems, we have research technology, high performance computing networks. We have massive data sets that we deal with.

We have a unique set of customers. Students, who get refreshed on an annual basis. We have faculty members that, rightfully so, have high demands that we need to be able to take care of.

So at the end of the day this creates a unique technical environment in higher ed that we need to be able to adapt, to respond to.

And then the other primary thing is just our approach to technology. I’ve used this analogy before, but, it’s trains, it’s tracks, and it’s fans.

The idea using trains, is the idea we have to keep the trains running on time. That means networks need to be available, systems need to be available. We move data around all the time and, if we do it right, you never know that we’re doing this.

At the same time, we have to be able to lay new track. We have to be able to bring in new technology, new systems, we make modifications to systems, but the idea is we’re laying new track for the trains to go on. And that’s also part of our mission.

And then the other thing is what I call fans. We need to be able to, what I call create raving fans. We want fans to reach out to us. We want fans to be happy about what we do. We want to be sure we can help our customers, students, faculty, and staff.

We want to make sure we can help them get the job done using technology. And that’s our core mission.

I think as we look to the future of technology in higher ed, we have to keep all these things in mind as we start to move forward.

So as I talk a little bit more about the future, I am going to talk about some specific technologies, whether that’s artificial intelligence, machine learning, certainly the cloud is, we’re starting to move to, that will continue to be a big part of our portfolio going forward.

But again, our ability to be interoperable in all these environments. You’ve heard things like big data–yes, we’re going to be dealing with big data in the future. You’ve heard topics of cybersecurity, even though we don’t like to talk too much about it, that’s going to become even more important in the future. So we need to be able to prepare for that future in technology in higher ed.

And then talk a little bit about some practices too that will help us prepare for the future. And in some cases, create the future. Thank you.

Open House for Instructors Offers Fall Semester Help and Assistance

Learning Technologies Open House

Our Learning Technology Solutions team invites instructors to stop by our first annual Open House event, directly following the President’s address and campus picnic on Tuesday, August 14. We’ll be available 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm in Riverfront Hall 102A.

The following campus groups have partnered to answer last minute technology questions instructors may have for their Fall courses:

Learning Technology Solutions

  • Blackboard
  • Techsmith Relay/Camtasia Studio
  • Zoom web conferencing
  • iClicker
  • Qualtrics
  • Wireless presentation in the classroom

Office of Information Technology Customer Care

  • Classroom technologies
  • Podium controls
  • Classroom computers
  • Document cameras
  • Projectors

Albertsons Library

  • MakerLab
  • One Button Studio
  • Any library material questions for the upcoming semester


  • Gadget Garage checkouts
  • Open Educational Resources (OER)

eCampus Center

  • Any questions related to online courses

For more information, contact Learning Technology Solutions at or call (208) 426-4357.

“Getting Ready for the Semester” Faculty Workshops

Getting Started for the Semester Workshops

We know many faculty have beginning-of-the-semester questions about Blackboard, iClicker, TechSmith Relay, and other teaching and learning technologies.

To assist, our Learning Technology Solutions (LTS) team is offering a series of “Getting Ready for the Semester” workshops between August 17 and September 11.

Faculty can ready their courses for the upcoming semester by cleaning up content and implementing course-copy best practices. These workshops will help streamline course management and minimize frustration by getting a head start on the next semester and avoiding common mistakes.

Visit our registration page to reserve a workshop spot (limited spaces available):

Google Chrome Will Begin Marking HTTP Sites as “Not Secure”

Images of a security lock

Beginning July 23, the latest version of Google Chrome (version 68) will begin adding a “not secure” designation in the address bar of websites running HTTP, instead of HTTPS. This may give the perception that a site contains a threat.

Below is an example of what you will see when visiting an HTTP page:

Treatment of HTTP pages in Chrome 68

While this designation is meant to further differentiate encrypted sites (HTTPS) from encrypted sites (HTTP), it does not give a complete assessment of a website’s overall security.

An encrypted site means that information received from and passed to the site is private. It’s important to verify a site is using HTTPS when submitting information to that site. An unencrypted site isn’t using a private connection. On pages that are informational (ones that aren’t asking for your information or requesting you fill out a form, for example) a private connection isn’t always needed.

For additional information about website connections using Google Chrome, visit Google’s support website.

If you have questions about this change or about the security of the web pages you visit, please contact the Office of Information Technology Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or

“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