Micah Shippee, PhD

Speaker, Consultant, Instructional Designer, Trainer, & Teacher

Category Archives: Home

Augmented Reality Insights from #ISTE2017 #edtech @MergeVR @GoogleForEdu @Lifeliqe

I just got back from ISTE 2017 in San Antonio Texas. Saw some really cool things with emergent technology that I’d like to report on. Specifically, I was excited about some of the augmented reality products that I see coming and becoming increasingly accessible for educational use.

First, I was impressed by what I saw with the Google Expeditions AR project. I spent some time with the Expeditions AR selfie sticks, playing with their AR experience. Here’s a video of me going through a blood vessel you can see the red blood cells as we go right through it.

gif (1).gif

A pretty cool product. I’m really excited to see that Google Expeditions AR is taking the collaborative feature which we can use in Google Expeditions (VR) and bringing it into an augmented reality world. This will allowed for impressive shared-experiences within our classroom, keeping us mentally and physically present in the learning space. I’m not sure when the full rollout of this is going to happen but I know that the Google Expeditions AR folks are looking for pilot schools to test out the product and get it ready for a full-scale K-12 availability. If you are interested in being a pilot school fill out this form: https://goo.gl/N8EDii. 

During my augmented reality workshop at ISTE, I invited Jeremy from Merge Cube to bring in his product to give attendees some hands-on experience. The Merge Cube (www.mergevr.com) is a foam cube that reminds me a lot of what I saw with Elements 4D (http://elements4d.daqri.com/), which allowed you to take elements from the periodic table of elements put them underneath your phone (for AR) and you could see how they looked and changed as they were combined with chemicals that they are compatible with. Unfortunately, Elements 4D is no longer under any future development by Daqri, as they are now focusing their research and development on producing AR smart glasses.

Merge Cube is taking AR and bringing it into this digital and physical world through smartphones that we already have access to. This will allow students to handle the manipulative and turn it and shift it use it as a game piece, or game board, all viewable through mobile technology. MergeVR will be selling their own viewer but, I tried it out with my Viewmaster AR and found the clicker allowed me to click through the features just fine. I had a chance to take this home with me and give a try with my 7 and 10-year-old and they were pretty excited about how easy it worked and how they were able to immerse themselves in an AR World pretty quickly. Look for Merge Cube in stores soon!


At the Microsoft Partners Booth I worked a little bit with Martin from Lifeliqe. I found Lifeliqe was really cool especially when you experience it through the Hololens. They’ve been investing a lot of time in developing for the hololens anticipating that this is part of the future for education. The Lifeliqe app that has a free one month download of their features which are connected to various science textbooks as well as Next Gen Science learning standards. I recommend checking out Lifeliqe for their 1-month free trial and see if it’s a good fit for you. There are over 1000 different three-dimensional models available through the Lifeliqe app in IOS and Android. Their models are changeable you can move them up and down increase their size you can even record screenshots. Additionally, in the app, you have the ability to view in a are so if you were looking at a Stegosaurus you could actually put it on a table or on your friends head and record the process and insert it into a project slide show. Lifeliqe’s work with the hololens really looks like the way things are going, I had the opportunity to try it out a couple of times and found it is really cool to increase and decrease the size of a lunar eclipse as an example and walk through that lunar eclipse and get a real up close look at it. Additionally, what I wasn’t really ready for was to try out Lifeliqe VR.

They’ve developed a several VR experiences for the HTC Vive these experiences are unbelievable I went for a tour of the International Space Station from space so I got to fly around the International Space Station and experienced their three-dimensional modeling.

lifeliqe space station.jpg


I’ve seen video of people using HTC Vive and I’ve watched them play games and all that, but I never experienced it for myself. I’ll tell you right now the videos that we see do not do it justice this is a really powerful product that brings us into a VR world. I have really been spending most of my time looking at and thinking about, AR but honestly the VR stuff is really, really incredible and it really gets me closer and closer to that Star Trek Holodeck that we’re all waiting for.

I think both AR and VR have a powerful future. In particular, augmented reality has come a really far away and as we saw at ISTE through several vendors. It’s really amazing what our students are going to very soon have access to. I don’t pretend to have seen every augmented reality experience at ISTE, and  I’m sure there are other ones that were pretty awesome. But the Tango-enabled Expeditions AR, Merge Cube, and Lifeliqe or the ones that really popped out to me that I got some Hands-On time with and wanted to share with you.

Pi for Everyone? #edtech #edtechchat #raspberrypi


As an educator my own three children often have to deal with my efforts to prepare them for our uncertain future. My latest journey into preparing for the unknown has led me to explore the Raspberry Pi as a tool for teaching coding for my 7 and 9 year old. Being a total novice, with ideas of grandeur,  I researched the best way to enter into the world of Raspberry Pi and bought my 7 years old a Kano Computer ($150). We set off to build the new computer… and we had it done in 10 minutes, a bit underwhelming for a lego-master-builder-family. Once we plugged the device into our HDMI-ready TV my 7-year-old immediately began the gamified-badging-process to both block-code (hack Minecraft) and Python-code to build a snake game. I found Kano’s packaging and age-appropriate content to be effective and efficient for my 7-year-old. And it all came with a Chrome browser.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 10.08.28 AM          Super impressed by what I saw, I began investigating more Raspberry Pi applications and build projects more applicable for my 9-year-old. Enter the Raspberry Pi Lunchbox project. We ordered a Raspberry Pi, Touch Screen, and Micro-SD card to create our own computer from a more Spartan approach than Kano’s pre-packaged system. Our goal was to create a Raspberry Pi Lunchbox computer, a wireless system powered by a RavPower portable charger.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 10.08.37 AM

         Our project was full of excellent problem-solving scenarios which led us to investigate various Operating Systems (OS) and installing software for both functionality and games. I think that my kids learned that problem solving takes resilience and the right DIY youtube video. All in all a super positive experience…

So all of this begs the question: Is a step above 1:1 computing perhaps 1:1 DIY computing? We strive to support students in their careful and cautious 1:1 computing atmosphere but what if they actually built their own computer? Raspberry Pi Lunchboxes for everyone? Why not? It’s cheaper to build and repair and students will have a vested interest in what they have created.

Ask the New Google Earth to Search for you! @GoogleEarth #GoogleEarth


Take a 3D tour of places all over the world with the New Google Earth @GoogleEarth #GoogleEarth


Feeling Lucky? Roll the Dice and See where the New Google Earth Takes you @GoogleEarth #GoogleEarth


Learn with Knowledge Cards in the New Google Earth @GoogleEarth #GoogleEarth


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

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 8.28.02 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 9.08.02 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 9.08.09 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 9.08.16 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 9.08.24 PM

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