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Connection January 2013

Remembering Connie 3 Minority avatars Black gamers uncomfortable in White skins

h c Te

i d i D Ed

In Nepali,

didi is a respected older sister who guides and walks beside you on your journey. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY



A teacher’s dream or nightmare? Students just keep coming back!


Third textbook! It’s not just fun & games; it’s learning!


Research: Web 2.0 tools under-used


2 Boise State EdTech Connection

Only time and weather change as much as technology. And we’re changing, too! When fall semester wound down just before Christmas, the EdTech Department had passed a milestone. Never in the 24-year history of this program have we served as many students in a single semester, and enrollments for spring 2013 are shaping up to be just as big. Enrollments shooting past 700 are only marginally the result of our new online doctoral program. It’s growth . But it is not only growth nor even the sum of growth and new doctoral students, but loss, that prompts us to search for three new faculty members this spring. In our last edition, you may remember, we noted the resignations of Lisa Dawley to head a new ed-tech research and development lab and Connie Wyzard because of illness. Connie died a few days ago, so look at the next page for our parting thoughts on her contributions to the department. I think you’ll like this edition. Let me know.


Cover Story Gretel Patch teaches technology in Nepal … where few tech tools have gone before. —Page 13

EdTech Connection Published three times a year by the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University

Jerry Foster Editor and academic adviser 208-426-4008


Boise State EdTech Connection

In Memorium

Dr. Connie Wyzard dies of cancer; scholarship established in her name Connie Wyzard, emeritus professor in the Department of Educational Technology, died Dec. 7 at her home after a long illness. She resigned from the department last summer. “Connie was a productive scholar and an exemplary faculty member during her entire 19-year career at Boise State University,” said Diane Boothe, dean of the College of Education. Ross Vaughn, interim EdTech chair and assistant dean, said, “Wyzard was one of the original members of the EdTech Department and contributed greatly over the years to the success of the department and its programs.” A former associate chair of EdTech, Wyzard was an early and effective advocate for integration of technology in the nation’s classrooms to enhance the instructional effectiveness of teachers. While this is taken for granted today, it was far from obvious when she began at Boise State. She designed and managed the undergraduate classroom technology course, which serves about 700 pre-service teachers every year. In addition to teaching graduate courses, Wyzard until recently managed the department’s

adjunct instructors. Wyzard won national awards in 1996 for service to adjudicated youth with disabilities and for work in alternative school networking. In 2005, Boise State students recognized her for her inspirational and impactful teaching. She also was a prolific writer. She co-wrote three textbooks, plus five editions of an introductory technology textbook for preservice teachers. In addition, she wrote several book chapters and numerous journal articles. Wyzard was a reviewer for an international technology journal and also served on the editorial board for a national college textbook publisher. She was also an indefatigable researcher and conference presenter. Wyzard taught reading in Wyoming and Canada before earning her doctorate at the University of Nebraska in 1990. She requested to be remembered through contributions to the Boise State University Foundation scholarship fund. Visit https:// and select the drop down titled Constance Wyzard Memorial Gifts.


4 Boise State EdTech Connection

Minority gamers don’t feel right in white skin; avatar options are woefully limited EDITOR’S NOTE: As a youngster some 50 years ago, I watched The Twilight Zone regularly, but I remember only a few episodes vividly. In one of those, a man and his wife lived in an old west cabin in the desert hills. Hmmm, this one is a western, I remember thinking, but I soon discovered that this idyllic scene was not the American west, but a small planet somewhere in space, and the man wasn’t a rancher, but a prisoner and this planet was his prison. A space craft came to evacuate him one day because the planet was on a collision course with an asteroid. The prisoner and I were stunned to learn that the vessel did not have room for the wife. He refused to leave without her.

Here is the plot twist so typical of The Twilight Zone. The man charged with evacuating the prisoner said, “But she’s only a robot.” The prisoner had an emotional connection with a thing, lovely though she/it was. She had become so real to him that he was willing to stay with her and die. And now, I have on my desk a short research paper that suggests similar human responses to avatars in digital games. Written by EdTech student Robin Armstead, the paper was the basis for her presentation at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) conference in October. The following is an abridgement.

By Robin Armstead Over the past five years, education has begun repurposing many online games and virtual world environments to actively engage students in a new delivery method for teaching and learning. Unequal representation of ethnicity in avatars puts minority players at a disadvantage in terms of making a psychological connection with ROBIN ARMSTEAD their virtual self, thereby greatly diminishing game play. The purpose of this research is to explore the options available to users to represent themselves in terms of skin, eye, and hair color. The default options one chooses in an attempt to get as close as possible to one’s own representation will also be investigated. If a bias does exist in gaming platforms used by educators, then it is important that the gaming community is made aware of the impact it has on minority users and their gaming

experience, and that reasonable solutions are offered. The use of avatars in games moves the player from spectator to participant immersed in a realistic world. When one sees himself or herself as a character interacting with other characters and with the environment, the experience becomes much more personal. A psychological relationship

The avatar becomes a virtual extension of the user.

develops between user and avatar (McCreery, Kathleen, Schrader, & Boone, 2012). The player uses this virtual identity for months or years and the avatar becomes a virtual extension of the user. The foundation of this relationship begins

Boise State EdTech Connection

with choosing characteristics, such as name and physical features, such as skin, hair, and eye color. Options to change the mouth, nose, and body shape may also be available. The characteristics that one chooses becomes a digital rendering of himself in the virtual world (McCreery, Kathleen, Schrader, & Boone, 2012). The visual image not only defines a part of the character but also how others view and interact with her. Research on minority representation in gaming is scarce. Williams, Martins, Consalvo, and Ivory, (2009) found “a systematic overrepresentation of males, whites, and adults” (p. 815). Tanner (2009) concluded that online games such as World of Warcraft

In MapleStory, users actually have to pay to change skin color. and EverQuest default to White ethnic representation, with alternative “exotic deviation” (p. 3) in skin color. In MapleStory, users actually have to pay to change their skin color. Studying interactive role playing in a virtual world called Whyville, Kafai, Cook, and Fields (2010) found a dearth of dark skin selections. When players attempted to change their face to a darker color, they could not find matching body parts when changing other things about themselves like their clothing that only came with light skin features for the attached arms or legs. These “two toned” players were made fun of and some were subjected to racial jokes and slurs. Because avatars—as representations


of self—have a psychological connection to how players identify with themselves in the game, the availability of an adequate selection of skin coloration is essential to the game’s immersive experience. Online gaming is a valuable tool for educators and instructional designers to actively engage students. When applied in a meaningful way, it can harness the power and creativity of students’ minds, increase knowledge transfer, and cement the learning objectives because students live in the virtual environment where the learning experience is a lived experience. The social and psychological aspects of this environment cannot be ignored by educators and game manufacturers because K-12 students go through periods of identity searching, and sometimes even crises, which can adversely affect learning. Without proper minority avatar choices, the gaming community is forced to ask itself what it is saying about the importance of different population groups and of minority players’ gaming/ learning experience. The internet provides a space for Earth’s ethnically rich and diverse users to connect across the barriers of geography, language, and culture to meet in online games and classes. When asking someone to represent him or herself in a game, it is an attempt to make a connection with the user and create an enhanced gaming experience. Maximizing this connection by having authentic characters or traits supports the goals of using avatars and creates the best possible experience for users. For references, see ARMSTEAD on Page 20.

6 Boise State EdTech Connection

Social places in virtual spaces Testing a social learning community in an online course EDITOR’S NOTE: Even by EdTech’s educationally non-conformist norms, Sheila Bolduc-Simpson is a non-traditional student. The woman is, after all, working on her fourth master’s degree. I met her at the 2010 ISTE conference. I don’t know what I said, but somehow I inspired this full-time Florida Gulf Coast University instructor to earn yet another master’s degree. She wrote a paper in EDTECH 504, Foundations of Educational Technology, that she thought had some promise—and so did the editor of Distance Learning, who published Sheila’s action research paper written originally as a class assignment. Sheila’s husband, Mark, an associate professor in the FGCU College of Education, assisted in the design and implementation of the research project that Sheila informally summarizes here.

By Sheila Bolduc-Simpson Effective face-to-face (F2F) classroom discussions are those in which learners discover and explore dissonance or inconsistency among themselves, and through the process of asking and responding, students test their understanding of some new concept against existing cognitive schema or personal experience to negotiate meaning. From the fast-paced spontaneity of F2F discussions, how can instructors successfully shift to textbased, asynchronous online discussion? Where is the noise, the laughter, and socializing in an online forum?

created a socializing forum called Anything Else Café and required participation . Data collection included: 

Studying activity trends, total post activity, etc.,

Examining the content of posts, and

A survey of student observations and opinions.

Just over 88 percent of students said it was important or somewhat important to have a social community for online learners. Most students (61.8%) participated because they had to, but 32.4 percent intentionally used the Café to socialize and answer other students’ questions. Strategies 

Students must know that effective online courses are both collaborative and social experiences.

Separate content forums from the social forum.

Make socializing mandatory.

Allow students to answer other students’ questions. It’s part of learning.


Online forum posts in [Sheila’s] ENC 3250 Professional Writing course tend to be lean and focused on the topic-of-the-week, so she

Boise State EdTech Connection

( Squeaky door and heavy organ intro )

Dream or nightmare? Students keep coming back to class . . . as if controlled by a mysterious unseen power Not your typical college class and not your typical college textbook. But Dr. Chris Haskell is not your typical college professor. The EdTech grad (M.E.T. and Ed.D.) loves digital games. He even has a garage full of playable amusement park castoffs, so it isn’t any surprise that he has made the department’s only undergraduate course an exercise in quest-based learning. Haskell doesn’t use games in class; the class is a game, a series of quests for points, badges, and rank for achievement. Haskell calls it “a provocative tool for instructional delivery,” a greenhouse of sorts for competitive spirits. And nurturing spirits, it seems, because when students have won the game by satisfactorily achieving all of the course’s learning objectives, they are done. But they don’t go. They keep coming back to help their classmates. So it is in this spirit of fun that Haskell has written a new supplementary text for pre-service teachers, a surprisingly serious discussion— couched in playful language, of course—on surviving the first year of teaching.

A new textbook written by M.E.T. and Ed.D. grad Chris Haskell mentors Boise State pre-service teachers in EDTECH 202—Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age—through the challenges of their first year of teaching.


8 Boise State EdTech Connection

The games doctor publishes a new textbook this month EdTech’s Young Baek and British colleague Nicola Whitton will publish a new textbook on educational games this month. Cases on Digital Game-Based Learning: Methods, Models, and Strategies is a meta-resource in which 26 case studies analyze from varied perspectives the implementation of digital game applications for learning, including potential challenges and pitfalls. Providing strategies, advice, and examples on utilizing games for teaching, this collection of case studies is essential for teachers and instructors at various school levels. Sections, each including several chapters, cover topics such as:


Digital games can help teach curriculum-specific content or transferrable skills, such as:  problem-solving,  critical thinking,  teamwork, or  behavior modification.

Teaching with commercial games,

Teaching with educational games,

Designing games for learning,

Learning through game design,

Games for teacher education,

Game-based learning in practice, and

Researching games and learning.

Digital games can help teach a wide variety of curriculum-specific content in academic disciplines, and also transferrable 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 contexts.

Boise State EdTech Connection

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.

Problem-solving is a key goal of many types of games . . . .

Dr. Baek directs 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 Classroom. Edutainment focuses on analyzing various kinds of entertainment to discover the qualities that make them fun. Then students attempt to insert those characteristics into instruction. Integrating Digital Games is an introductory course in game design. Baek’s co-editor, Nicola Whitton, is a research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK. This volume is Baek’s third textbook. It is priced at $165 from the publisher, IGI Global.

Haskell writes about quest-based learning in Baek’s newest book Chris Haskell has collaborated with his colleague-down-the-hall by writing a chapter for Young Baek’s book, Cases on Digital Game-Based Learning. Haskell developed quest-based learning several years ago and has been teaching with it—to rave reviews—in his sophomore technology class for pre-service teachers. Quest-based learning, particularly when tied to the 3-D Game Lab (game engine) that he co-developed with former EdTech colleague Lisa Dawley, has proven to be a tantalizing and often provocative tool for instructional delivery. Haskell’s quest-based approach applies a gaming construct over an entire class rather than using individual off-the-shelf games to fulfill specific learning objectives. Simply, students score experience points, gain rank, complete quests and missions, get badges and achievements, for learning and doing. When students conquer all of the course objectives, they’re done. Strange as it may seem, they don’t want to quit. They keep coming to class to help others.



10 Boise State EdTech Connection

Research shows: Most teachers don’t use Web 2.0 tools to best advantage EdTech professors Yu-Hui Ching and YuChang Hsu won third place this past fall in a competition sponsored by Information Age and the distance learning division of AECT, the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Hsu found that Web 2.0 assignments typically focus on individual written work rather than on interactivity or social interaction enabled by communication collaboration features of Web 2.0 tools.

The article detailing their research was published previously in the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. Assessing Learning with Web 2.0 Technologies Ching and Hsu have found that Web 2.0 applications have not been used to their full potential to promote peer interaction and collaborative learning. Participatory, interactive, collaborative, and social aspects are often missing from the learning and assessment activities. Most blogging activities, for example, facilitate individual reflective thinking, but interaction with peers through the commenting feature does not actually happen, even though it is encouraged or even required.


Ching and Hsu suggest that teachers use small group strategies to promote peer interaction and collaboration with Web 2.0 technologies. Assessments drive student learning, so Web 2.0 activities need to ensure that both the individual learning and shared goals are assessed. Shared goals are the tasks and objectives each student or group has in common and should be assessed to make sure students interact and collaborate to achieve a group outcome. Individual learning should also be reinforced by holding each individual learner accountable for Web 2.0 practices. Shared goals Ching and Hsu suggest formative and summative assessments for cognitive learning and collaboration in small groups, and individual assessments on communication.

It is through the social interactions—discussion, presentation, The formative stage is a time Dr. YU-CHANG HSU defense of a project (responding for feedback, not grades, on imto questions) and teaching/ proving group efforts on shared goals. Web tutoring (explaining a concept or process to 2.0 technologies that record revision history others)—is how students learn. But, Ching and

Boise State EdTech Connection

of student work could help reveal the group process and individual contributions, and thus, help teachers assess student collaboration. Web 2.0 technologies that provide chat logs or commenting features also help capture students’ interactions and idea development. These features are helpful for formative assessment. Then in the summative stage, after projects have been revised, students evaluate themselves and other members of their group. Peer assessment could be used to understand peer interaction during the small group process. Peer assessment should be brief, with a short-but-informative rubric and a Likert scale covering both the cognitive and collaborative learning topics, such as: 1) The quality of their contributions to the group; 2) A fair share of contribution to the group work; 3) Cooperation and communication with other group members; and 4) Cognitive contributions on helping the group accomplish its goals. To read the entire article, go to http://


Course scheduling changes noted; starting immediately EdTech students should should review their course schedules in light of scheduling changes involving several courses. EDTECH 552—Introduction to Network Administration—is moving to spring semester. It will be offered in back-to-back (Spring and Fall) in 2013 to provide extra opportunities for students impacted by this change. EDTECH 561 and 562 are switching semesters. Research (561) is now a spring course and 562 (Statistics) is moving to fall. EDTECH 543—Social Network Learning— will be offered in the summer 2013. It is usually offered only in the fall; no decision yet on whether it will be offered summer and fall indefinitely. The entire course list is available at http:// >.

Boise State unveils new logo The EdTech Department will begin incorporating a university logo in coming months.

Online teachers needed in many disciplines Shoreline Community College in western Washington is creating a pool of online adjunct instructors. To learn more more about this opportunity, go to jobs/0000761322-01/ >. Halfway across the country in Memphis, Ark., Mid-South Community College is

looking for a distance learning director. Learn more at community/details.cfm? JobCode=175691309&Title=Distance% 20Learning%20Director >. For more opportunities, see Jobs on Page 20.

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EdTech’s Jackie Gerstein: A tour guide of learning possibilities In a recent interview with the venerable Howard Rheingold, the inventor of the term virtual community, EdTech’s Jackie Gerstein (EDTECH 541 & 543) said educators need to give students tools to connect with information sources and learn naturally. And then teachers need to get out of the way. “I’m a tour guide of learning possibilities, and then I need to get out of the way. A lot of times, educators stay in the way and it turns students off. They literally go, ‘Whatever.’” Catch the interview: More on Howard Rheingold:

We already have the tools; the method to make them work is social network learning. When you whittle past the hyperbole, social network learning reveals itself as a personal professional development network for teachers. The SNL course at Boise State EdTech, therefore, is not an exploration of teaching methods, but of learning methods for practicing educators and their students. In her SNL course, EDTECH 543, progressive teachers explore the concept of participatory culture by immersing themselves in collaborative media and the requisite willingness to share what they know. They develop personal learning networks, which are a support nexus of trusted colleagues and experts with whom educators can share ideas, ask questions, and improve their own service to students. It’s a whole new paradigm. Instead of waiting for instructional support from the school or district office, today’s progressive educators leverage support from experts worldwide. These experts range from other teachers who’ve been


there, done that, to recognized authorities. This concept is beyond theoretical connectivism. Social Network Learning is the practice of it, the pulsing of knowledge from one member in the network to another until all are current with best practices and strategies. This amplification of learning is how Boise State EdTech students become human hubs in the nation’s educational network, not just another nameless node. Not surprising, the social networking tools that enable teachers to improve their practice are also potent tools for high school students because today’s digicentric students value information discovery in dynamic rather than static resources. And they thrive on multiple forms of communication tools previously used for entertainment to access information, synthesize it, and present it to others. Traditionally a fall-only course, 543 will also be available this summer term.

Boise State EdTech Connection


Student profile Gretel Patch teaches technology where few tech tools have gone before By Jerry Foster “Namaste everyone. Greetings from Kathmandu, Nepal. It is a lovely night here in the valley of the Himalayas.” That’s EdTech student Gretel Patch, introducing herself in a virtual presentation last November to the Global Education Conference, attended by educators in 130 countries. After she and her husband Chris graduated with bachelor’s degrees, he got a job as a consular officer with the U.S. State Department. Since then, their lives have hop-scotched from one exotic address to the next. Presently, Gretel is the technology integration coordinator at Lincoln School, a PK-12 international school in Kathmandu. The school’s 300 students, including her own, hail from 59 nations and territories. So, let’s talk for a minute about the Access program, which is central to the work I’ve been able to do in Nepal. Perhaps you know similar students in areas that you live in. In addition to working on an intensive load of online graduate course work from Boise State, Patch volunteered to help in the English Access Microscholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Access offers after-school English language instruction and practice to talented 14-to-16 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors in 85 countries. When she met her after-school Access students in Kathmandu for the first time, the classroom didn’t have the equipment she needed, so she loaded her family iMac into the car and carried it upstairs to the classroom.

Hindu shrines decorate Kathmandu, almost as prodigiously as pigeons.

14 Boise State EdTech Connection

The students—these are teenagers, remember—greeted her warmly and sang enthusiastic renditions of Oh, Susanna! and I’ll be Working on the Railroad. Then she showed an Animoto slide show of her family and an iMovie production of their recent Teej festival, which she would later show in remote mountain towns. Oooohs and Ahhhhs “They loved it. They ooohed and ahhhed over the screen as they watched themselves sing and dance and recite poetry. I wanted them to see, hear, and feel technology—that it is fun, powerful, engaging, and useful.

For them, the internet provides knowledge about the world. It’s about opportunity, providing them with skills that will open doors and change lives.

“I came away with high hopes and goals for them. Teaching someone about how to access available tools is empowering. For them, the internet provides knowledge about the world. It levels the playing field a little, giving someone in Nepal access to the same information that anyone else in the world has. It’s about opportunity, providing them with skills that will open doors and change lives. It’s also about confidence, as their skills and knowledge increase, they become more confident in their ability to help others. “This is big stuff.” Later, she received a small grant from the embassy’s Regional English Language Office to take her technology demonstrations to a couple of outlying towns.

Kids cluster around an iPad, part of Gretel Patch’s bag of tech tools—many of which Nepali children are seeing and exploring for the first time.

Boise State EdTech Connection

Of course, in Nepal, outlying does not mean a suburb. It means a six-hour drive—and an unforgettable drive, as it turns out.

Many of them had never sat down at a computer … .

The road to Gorkha, for example, is a “steep and windy, bumpy, dusty, narrow, cliff-hugging ordeal—beautiful (until you climb into the clouds), but really not very pleasant by any stretch of the imagination. If you don’t have a belief in the power of prayer before that trip, you certainly will afterward.” She told conference attendees that teen-age students in Nepal have few foundational skills in technology. “I had before me empty slates–willing students–who were eager to learn. Many of them had never sat down at a computer, checked their email, taken their own photos with a digital camera, filmed their own videos with a video camera, or swiped on an iPad. “Never. “None of them have a computer at home. Those who use a computer at their local ‘cyber’ check Facebook and watch YouTube. They don’t think of the Internet as a powerful learning tool. “Where would I even begin?” Gorkha’s teachers are amazing, dedicated people who give their all to their students, but most are short on tech skills. So, she met with them in a small internet café called a cyber and—

Don’t park too close to the curb. Heavy rains in the mountain town of Gorkha require a massive run-off system.


16 Boise State EdTech Connection

when the sputtering internet actually ran—introduced them to web 2.0 tools, such as Wikispaces, Google Docs, and Weebly. She found the students’ English more limited than she anticipated, so she talked briefly about netiquette and how the internet works, and then the magic began.

Each student greeted me personally by bringing me a small bouquet of wild flowers. These are such great kids.

She showed them an Animoto slide show of her family. And then a movie-trailer-like video of their Kathmandu counterparts, dancing in the recent Teej festival. Then she brought out every device that she could find, dividing the devices into groups of students, and they loved it and caught on immediately to whatever was placed in their hands.

If your teenagers need a lesson in respect, send them over.

“I left this experience greatly enriched but a bit troubled. “Here are such great students—eager, willing, and polite—yet life’s experiences for them are hard and they have such limited opportunities for growth and education. I truly believe in using technology and its power to enhance and further educational experiences, but for these students, it just seems so unattainable, so unreachable, so far away. “I have to ask myself if it will even help them. Do they really need all of the fancy tools and applications that most of us rely on? I’m torn, knowing that the answer is both a resounding YES and a cautionary no. I’m content knowing that they are learning English, receiving an education, and are empowering themselves to really make a difference in their lives. In the end, that’s what really matters. The rest will come, in its own time. Later, she flew to the small town of Bhairahawa near the Indian border. With a Santa-like bag of goodies, she rode a rickshaw from the airport to the school, where she explained the internet by stringing yarn all over the classroom. She knew by now that most students just wanted to experiment with technology tools and to imagine the possibilities.

Notice the number of transportation options in Bhairahawa—rickshaw, motorcycle, bicycle, oxen, and walking.

Boise State EdTech Connection 17

And there were a lot of possibilities in that bag, including an iPad, laptop, iPhone, speakers, portable batteryoperated color printer, HD projector the size of an iPhone, camera, Flip HD video camera, and the cords, memory cards, batteries, and cables to make magic happen. Maybe, she muses, this strategy would not have worked for students who have it all, but many of these students had never held these devices before.

As Patch removed tool after tool from her bag, the teacher said, “You’ve got the whole world in that bag.”

What did I really want them to take away from our time together, when all is said and done? My goals this time were simple: 1) I wanted to introduce them to an American (through a multimedia slideshow about me, and my son’s trailer about a recent trip to India); and 2) I wanted to show them how in just a few minutes technology could help them learn about something they otherwise knew little to nothing about. Patch graduates in May, just a couple of months before her husband’s expected transfer to Iraq. Her time in Boise State’s online EdTech program has given her the skills to make a difference in the lives and hopes of Nepalese students. She and the land and people have created a surreal experience, expressed metaphorically by a teacher in Gorkha. As Patch removed tool after tool from her bag, the teacher said, “You’ve got the whole world in that bag.” Yes, she does. NOTE: For her service to the Access program, Gretel Patch was nominated for the U.S. Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad. View her learning log at access/ >.

Farming the foothills of the Himalayas near Gorkha is still a hand-and-tool endeavor, as it has always been. This picture was taken from the school.

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Q&A Share your personal backstory. I met my husband-extraordinaire Christopher in our seventh grade Utah history class in St. George, Utah, and we’ve been best friends ever since. I graduated from Brigham Young University and Chris from the University of Utah. We both served LDS Church missions, and after Chris joined the State Department as a foreign service officer, we have lived in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa; Sydney, Australia; and now in Nepal, where Chris is deputy consular chief at the embassy in Kathmandu. What’s next? We’ll leave Nepal this summer and will be posted in Washington, D.C., for a year while Chris learns Kurdish for his next assignment in Erbil, Iraq. Because of tensions in the region, the children and I will not be able to accompany him, so we’ll likely spend time near grandparents in Utah and Arizona. Tell me about the kids. All have geographically-inspired names: Ravi, 10; Bronte, 8; Yared, 6, who was adopted from Ethiopia when we were stationed at nearby Djibouti; and Adelaide, 3. The kids attend the international school where I work. While it is not under-privileged, it is certainly diverse. It is a wonderful, nurturing, accepting environment, and – as is usually the case in small overseas communities – the school family is our family.

What’s it like to live a nomadic life? Moving every few years is certainly an interesting dynamic. Without a doubt it brings us closer as a family. We are a tight group. The kids would rather play with each other than with friends any day. What I love most about them is that they feel at home wherever they are. Part of that is due to Chris's and my effort to make our home a solid foundation for them, a safe and constant place, even in a world of change and chaos. But part of that is that they develop confidence and know that they made friends before, they loved before, they will make new friends again, and they will love again. It's not without its challenges, but when I stop to glance through their passports or look at our 66,000+ photos taken in recent years, I know it's all worth it. They know the world is bigger than them. They have seen poverty and experienced the joy that comes from helping someone in real need. They have friends all over the world, from every faith, from many backgrounds. Watching the Olympic opening ceremonies was like watching a parade of friends. I love that. Whatever they choose to make of it all in their future lives, it will have an impact in some way on them and I hope in some small way they will want to give back.

Boise State EdTech Connection

TOP LEFT—Gretel and friends in Bhairahawa. TOP RIGHT—Gretel in a reading activity at a Kathmandu public school on International Literacy Day. ABOVE—Girls filming a class project on the outside stairwell of the school in Gorkha. INSET—Nepali students dress their best for school. ABOVE RIGHT—In an art-adorned classroom, Gorkha boys look to international magazines for inspiration. RIGHT—After-school Access students in Bhairahawa. Nepali students attend school six days a week.


20 Boise State EdTech Connection

Join us at three regional conferences The EdTech Department will exhibit at a couple of spring education conferences, and recruiter/adviser Jerry Foster always welcomes students to drop in. He will exhibit at NCCE

—the Northwest Council for Computer Education— in Portland Feb. 26 through March 1. He and Dixie Conner will exhibit at the California Charter Schools Associa-

Morton re-elected to TCEA board Dr. Cathy Morton, an EdTech adjunct faculty member, has been re-elected to her fourth twoyear term on the board of directors of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA). Morton represents teachers in 50 school districts covering more than 20,000 square miles in west Texas. At Boise State, she teaches EDTECH 551—Grant Writing—every fall and Dr. CATHY MORTON spring semester.

Jobs Two more jobs have come to our attention. The first is a trainer (Job #9343) in the Project GREAT program in the Lone Star College System in Houston, Texas. The job pays between $37,266 and $41,923. Find complete details at http://

tion Conference in San Diego, March 11-14. On June 18-20, Jerry will exhibit at the Technology in Education Conference (TIE) at Copper Mountain, Colo., June 18-20.

Armstead— From Page 4

References Higgin, T. (2009). Blackless fantasy. Games and Culture, 4(1), 3-26. McCreery, M. P., Kathleen, K. S., Schrader, P. G., & Boone, R. (2012). Defining the virtual self: Personality, behavior, and the psychology of embodiment. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(3), 976-983. Williams, D., Martins, N., Consalvo, M., & Ivory, J. (2009). The virtual census: Representations of gender, race and age in video games. New Media & Society, 11(5), 815834. The second opportunity is for an instructional coordinator at Davidson County Community College in Thomasville, N.C. The job pays $33,270 to $43,251, and requires teaching and tech integration experience. Learn more at employment.htm. See more on Page 11.

Profile for EdTech / Boise State University

January 2013  

News for & about Boise State EdTech students.

January 2013  

News for & about Boise State EdTech students.


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