Micah Shippee, PhD

Speaker, Consultant, Instructional Designer, Trainer, & Teacher

Take a Voyage to Adventure in the New Google Earth @GoogleEarth #GoogleEarth



The New Google Earth will radically inspire students in their exploration of increasingly accessible content. @GoogleEarth #GoogleEarth

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Using Google Geo Tools?… KMLs are your friend


Google Geo Tools refer the Google apps which leverage geographic content. These include My Maps, Tour Builder, Streetview, and Earth. Many of these tools use KML files to communicate geolocations.


Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth. You can create KML files to pinpoint locations, add image overlays, and expose rich data in new ways. KML is an international standard maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.1 The simplest kind of KML documents are those that can be authored directly in the original Google Earth, in Tour Builder, and in My Maps meaning you do not need to edit or create any KML in a text editor. Placemarks, ground overlays, paths, and polygons can all be authored directly in these tools.2 Organizations such as National Geographic, UNESCO, and the Smithsonian have all used KML to display their rich sets of global data.3


When you create a map in Google My Maps or in Google Tour Builder, you have the option to export them as .KML files.

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Additionally, in My Maps you can upload a .KML file to display as a layer over another map and in Tour Builder you can add a .KML as by URL.

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How is this useful? For educators, it provides a way to collaborate or bring in professionally created content with student content. This is great for comparing data sources and drawing conclusions. Try visiting Google My Maps and using the “Explore” tab to find interesting maps, download them (as KMLs) and import them into your own map as layers. Have fun!



  1. https://developers.google.com/kml/
  2. https://developers.google.com/kml/documentation/kml_tut
  3. https://developers.google.com/kml/faq#whatiskml

Gaming in the Classroom – A Classroom Guide to Civilization IV: Colonization #edchat #gaming #edtech

Games and simulations are an important way to create meaningful, experiential knowledge for students. Additionally, games are supported by Keller’s ARCS model of motivational design (Keller, 1987) in that games can capture the Attention of our students, are Relevant to their world, appeal as an appropriate challenge that students feel Confident they can approach and offer frequent feedback leading to student Satisfaction. When employing gaming in the classroom, it is the job of the educator to relate and connect the activities to the required content. The purpose of this article is to share a bit of my experience in classroom gaming in an effort to support you in your attempts to do the same. I must preface this article by explaining that I regularly accept that failure in implementing these types of activities is a very real possibility… so Why do I bother? The positive student reaction to gaming experiences in the classroom is both powerful and transformative. If you are thinking of taking on a little more advanced gameplay like the example discussed here, I highly suggest user testing. Start a club or find some kids in a study hall and have them work out the kinks for you, they will love it, and you will have meaningful data to inform a full class rollout.


My social studies classes find themselves playing multiple kinds of games in my classes, ranging from board games to Oregon Trail. For the past three years I have been using Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization game to help my students experience the Age of Exploration and the concept of Mercantilism, that it is, the colonial policy of using colonies to benefit their home country in Europe. In the game, players take on the rolls of English, French, Spanish, or Dutch settlers looking to create a colony, export goods, and eventually gain independence.


Although the game is setup for a single user interface, I partner students into groups of two or three each. Here’s a look at how gameplay occurs…


The first turn begins in 1492 AD, the year that Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. From 1492-1599 one year equals one turn. From the year 1600, each year has two turns: spring and fall. Each class day matches stages from introduction:


Start – Initial overview, survey, and teams

Stage 1 – 40 minute gameplay

Stage 2 – 40 minute gameplay

Stage 3 – 80 minute gameplay

Stage 4 – 40 minutes gameplay


Start. You start with a ship in the middle of the ocean… the area around the ship is black which is an awesome way of illustrating the difficulties of exploration, a concept our Google-Earth-minded students have trouble with.


A key early concept of the game is to direct students to frequently go back to Europe and pay for passage for as many immigrants as they can. Students can pay for as many as 10 immigrants, most will be specialists that are normally expensive to purchase directly from Europe (via the ‘$’ button on the Europe screen).


Once the ship arrives in Europe, students should unload their settlers onto the landscape that they wish to settle. Next, students should send the ship back to Europe (a pattern they should keep repeating). From here think of the game in six stages: – early conquest, exploration, economy building, and revolution.


Stage 1. Early conquest. The placing of cities is very important. Students should be encouraged to focus early settlements along the coast, this will allow for easy access to shipping back to Europe (a key strategy in European Mercantilism). Food is most important, they should either have at least one tile of a food source near a river, since river fields have a bonus on food production. Students should take into account is that natives let you settle for free with their first settlement.


Stage 2. Exploration. It is important to send out colonists to explore all locations as soon as possible. There is a lot of gold available during this phase, which will enable you to get more immigrants. It is your choice to keep the discovered treasure rather than sending it back via the King. Students can build a Galleon as soon as possible and send it back to Europe themselves.  Be careful when exploring ancient burial grounds, use a seasoned scout, or else the natives may declare war on you. NOTE: When those adventurers arrived upon any unknown coast, their first inquiry was always if there was any gold to be found there… Adam Smith would call the quest for easy riches, through finding gold, to be an epic waste of time in early colonization efforts.


Stage 3. Economy building. Make sure that students build some inland cities only two tiles away from your coastal cities. When the revolution occurs, the King will attack the coastal cities. It’s important to remember that the King’s invasion will occur at or very near to the exact spot where students were made landfall when the game started, so the cities at that location should be very well defended. Students should purchase the experts from Europe if necessary and specialize their cities with: 1) at least one port city close to Europe (set up your automatic wagon trade to deliver finished products to the port city or cities); 2) a gun producing city; 3) a University city and cities specializing in particular industrial products such as cigars, cloth, coats etc. Students need to maintain positive relationships with Native Americans, they should not forget to trade and give gifts to the natives. Native leaders will pay very high prices for goods they desire if they have gold in their accounts. Missionaries can go to all of the surrounding native settlements and possibly convert natives (a meaningful class discussion on Westernization efforts and racism should be linked to this activity). Students can specialize some cities to produce political points, this will help them to obtain good founding fathers.


Stage 4. Revolution. Around 1650, give dragoons experience by sending them out to conquer a nearby European colonies or native settlements. The experience providing by founding fathers such as Ethan Allen (Free promotion of Ranger I and Mountaineer I for Gunpowder Units), Francisco de Coronado (+1 movement for Dragoons), Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve (Free promotion of Formation for Gunpowder Units, +1 movement for converted natives), and Dom Pedro 1 (+50% Great General emergence, Free promotion of Veteran I and Minuteman I for Gunpowder and Mounted Units) are very helpful in battles. Use dragoons to attack and keep your ships nearby to evacuate the wounded.


The day by day breakdown is as follows:

Day ONE:

  1. Have students take the student personal preference survey: Which of the following descriptions can you most identify with? This will auto-sort students into groups based on how they answer the questions (which are meant to reflect the opinions of certain historical countries and leaders)
  1. Introduction Document
  2. Game Manual Review


Day TWO:

– Groups of 2-3 students per computer

– Set up 8 Computers

– Direct IP Connect

– Begin Game Play

– Each group selects a captain to turnkey gameplay tips

NOTE: groups should find land, establish at least one colony, and travel back and forth to Europe for more people in the first day of game play.


Day THREE: Students should get right into the game. Teacher will meet with the team captains and walked them through loading and unloading their ships at the European ports in order to get more settlers and make money.


FINALLY: A few lessons learned from implementing the game with 20-45 students at a time for three years…


Gameplay Time and Overview:

  1. Label each computer with a flag and leader name. AND Assign a team captain to turnkey (as well as save and load the game).
  2. Washington Computer runs and saves the game (only). This computer should set up the game speed (Turn Timer) to “Blazing Fast”
  3. Check the IP Address of the Washington Computer at the beginning of each day. Once or twice my IP address changed over the weekend.
  4. Each team should make sure the game “player” name is their leader name
  5. Use as many computers as you can (10 – computers is great).
  6. Save each game with the Module #
  7. Load the game each day from the Washington computer.
  8. After loading the game on the Washington computer, then have each other team connect, but they must ensure that the re-select their country and correct leader.
  9. Check “Ready” and the Washington Computer will load the game.


Game Notes

  1. Actual full game is 300 turns. I’m considering breaking up the five class days (approx. 200 minutes) over a whole unit that pertains to the same content.
  2. Consider changing the initial turn timer to 225 turns – this will move the game along.
  3. Put the full game manual (PDF) in a Google Drive folder (or Google Classroom) and have one device available for the students to review it during game play.



Gaming in the classroom takes on many shapes and sizes. Levels of difficulty and even games designed for success vs those with potential for failure all have places in the classroom. Why use games in the classroom? To challenge learners in content? to teach teamwork and communication skills? to engage students in new and meaningful ways?… yes, all of the above. Successful game design and/or classroom implementation is no easy task, but the rewards are powerful!



Civilization IV: Colonization: Strategy – Beginner Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved January 1, 2017, from https://www.civfanatics.com/civ4col/strategy/beginner-guide/


Keller, J. M. (1987). Development and Use of the ARCS Model of Motivational Design [Abstract]. Journal of Instructional Development, 10(3). Retrieved December 1, 2016, from

http://ocw.metu.edu.tr/pluginfile.php/8620/mod_resource/content/1/Keller Development Use of ARCS.pdf

#inspiration #edtech #edchat #wanderlustEDU


Future Ready: VR, AR, and MR in the classroom beyond the novelty


Future Ready: VR, AR, and MR in the classroom beyond the novelty.

Classroom level application of VR, AR, and MR content is a form of job readiness. These emergent technologies are fun and exciting, they can be used to captivate students but what’s the learning value beyond that? As educators we regularly asking ourselves what is the educational value, how will this help me achieve my content goals and prepare my students for the world that awaits them. Fair and valid concerns that I hope this blog post will address.

AR has been around since the early Nineties1 but until recently it was slow to be adopted by the masses as a useful technology. One exception would be video games which have heads-up displays (HUDs) in car games, war games, in just about everything with a live score (constant feedback). These entertainment venues have now informed the real world, one example is John Madden Football being used by the NFL to create a better viewing experiences (augmented experience) for viewers.3,4


We should define VR, AR, and MR, since the purpose of this blog is to explore career readiness I will use the definitions as explained by the AREA (Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance), the only global member-driven trade organization focusing on reducing barriers to, and accelerating the smooth introduction and widespread adoption of Augmented Reality by and for professionals.

Virtual Reality (VR) – technology that relies on software, hardware, and content but without the physical world and is 100% imaginary or “synthetic.”2

Augmented Reality (AR)always involves adding digital information in a manner that’s tightly synchronized with the physical world. Augmented Reality is the suite of enabling technologies and the resulting experience of a user when highly contextual digital information (in the form of text, images, graphics, animations, video, 3D models, sound or haptic stimuli) is presented in a manner that’s synchronized in real time, and appears attached to physical world people, places or objects.2

Mixed Reality (MR) On one end is the physical world without any digital enhancements and, on the other, the purely digital world (Virtual Reality). Augmented Reality is a form of mixed reality that is closer to the physical world than the purely digital world.2


At the AR in Action Summit (MIT Jan 17-18, 2017) vendors, academics, and industry professionals gathered to share AR experiences and develop a future for AR. AR’s application across many different industries was prevalent.



I learned about how architectural firms are regularly using AR and VR to illustrate designs and models for their clients. This powerful example shows AR and VR applied in the workplace, here is one example from Arrowstreet.6

And another example from Balti Virtual (http://baltivirtual.com/) showing their work with Baltimore’s Port Covington project.

These examples allow architects and developers to have meaningful discussions with clients about the projects that they are working on. In both cases, these companies have found that AR/VR opens the door to discussions with clients that were previously much harder to attain and that lead to a higher quality end product. Visuals of doctors with an Oculus headset connected to a live camera reminded me of FPS gameplay.



Medical practitioners shared examples of enhanced Spinal and Lung Surgery all aided by VR/AR/MR applications. Doctors reported more effective and efficient surgery aided by these technologies, leading to higher quality medical care.


Emergency Services

During the summit Fire Department Captain Kirk McKinzie gave a call for help to industry professionals to continue to develop AR hardware to support the rapid rescue of victims in emergency situations.



Among the vendors were HoloTats & UA Play which offer an AR experience for consumers.



PTC’s Thingworx demonstrated how manufacturers and servicemen can repair and build products aided by AR visualizations of tasks and steps for a wide variety of projects.


Further, in the workplace it became clear that subject matter experts are now able to work at a distance and can guide lesser skilled/qualified people through complex tasks all through AR.



The emergent fields of VR, AR, and MR are rapidly expanding and are among the few technologies that we can most definitely target as relevant to our students’ future workplace. Our students will be called upon to leverage this technology and to improve it in their future careers. Recent predictions state that by 2025 14 million workers will use AR in their workplace, up from 400,000 presently.7


So what can we do in the classroom? We need to share our experiences with AR to better inform educational applications on their creation and development of student learning experiences. Current research states: “While AR technology has been improving, it can still be difficult for students to use; therefore, more studies related to the development and usability of AR applications are needed. Within this line, learners’ opinions about usability and preferences must be examined in AR based learning environments.”8 These “studies” can include our classroom experiences as a form of action research to promote meaningful change in practice and use of innovative technology.



  1. “Augmented Reality in Education” http://www.arined.org/?page_id=43 retrieved 1.25.17
  2. Augmented Reality Defined“ http://thearea.org/augmented-reality-defined/ retrieved 1.25.17
  3. Gordon, Bing “Gamers know AR“ Lecture at AR in Action (MIT, 1.18.17) www.arinaction.com
  4. Pierce, David “25 years of Madden, the video game that changed football forever” (2014). http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/31/5365700/25-years-of-madden-the-game-that-changed-football-forever retrieved 1.25.17
  5. “The AREA Faq” http://thearea.org/area/faq/ retrieved 1.25.17
  6. Arrowstreet www.arrowstreet.com retrieved 1.25.17
  7. Gownder, J.P. (2016) “How Enterprise Smart Glasses Will Drive Workforce Enablement – Forecast: US Enterprise Adoption And Usage Of Smart Glasses” published April 21, 2016.
  8. Akçay, M. and Akçay, G. (2017) Advantages and challenges associated with augmented reality for education: A systematic review of the literature. Published in Educational Research Review 20 (2017) 1-11.

#sweetinsanity #wanderlustEDU


AugmentEDU goes Higher Ed #edchat #AR #edtech @kgg521

At the EdTechTeam Buffalo Summit held at Canisius College (August 4-5, 2016) I had the pleasure to meet many educators in both K-12 and Higher Education. While presenting, I actually ran into a young woman who I had in class as a 7th grader, she was about to start teaching… I’m getting old. My presentations included Introduction to Google Classroom, Virtual 360 Fieldtrips, BreakoutEDU, and Augmented Reality (AR) in the Classroom. In the AR presentation, I met Dr. Kathleen Gradel, a professor in the College of Education at Fredonia State University, who was very excited about bringing the AR process (found at http://www.augmentedu.org) back to her classes.

This past fall Dr. Gradel’s First-Year Seminar (FRED101) completed a mapping project around Fredonia State University (see the Animoto video below). Thank you, Dr. Gradel for taking this project to HigherEd!


#edchat #grades #wanderlustEDU


Technology is the answer! But what is the problem? #edtech #edchat


There are many articles exploring the issue of technology integration in K-12 education. Don Ely’s work with technological innovations is among the most notable. Ely points out that “Implementation” of technology requires special knowledge to do the job efficiently and thoroughly (Ely, 1990, p.298). Ely’s research directs researchers to variables that can be used as an assessment tool when studying teacher centered technology integration. Ely states “Technology is the answer! But what is the problem?” his comment promotes further research into efficient use of technology in instructional settings. Discussed within Ely’s eight variables to consider when facilitating the adoption, implementation, and institutionalization of educational technology innovations are:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the status quo: may come from teachers who are not motivated to consider change in their teaching procedures.
  2. Knowledge and Skills Exist: a teacher must possess the competencies to teach students the use of these tools
  3. Resources are available: tools and relevant materials are accessible to assist learners to acquire learning objectives.
  4. Time is available: Paid time. Teachers need time for in-service training; they need time to revise existing teaching plans; they need time to practice with new materials; they need time to try out and evaluate new teaching procedures.
  5. Rewards or Incentives Exist for Participants: Why should anyone change? If current practice is going reasonably well, why risk new techniques? Whatever the reward, intrinsic or extrinsic, it should be there in some form.
  6. Participation is Expected and Encouraged: Shared decision making, individuals should be involved in the decisions that will affect them. Participation may occur at many levels: during problem identification. During consideration of alternative solutions, and during decision making when new programs or approaches are adopted.
  7. Commitment by Those Who are Involved: Administrators should provide clear and visible support that endorses implementation.
  8. Leadership is Evident: Leaders should ensure that the necessary training is given and the materials to do the job are easily available; they are available for consultation when discouragement or failure occur; and they continually communicate their enthusiasm for the work at hand.



Ely, D. P. (1990). Conditions that facilitate the implementation of educational technology

innovations. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 23(2), 298.