Meeting Merge Cube Creators Steelehouse Productions

So as my friends remind me, I am bit #MergeCube obsessed.. My “teacher hoarder” “extreme couponer” tendencies are definitely awakened with this opportunity..

However, it has lead to other conversations.. that are proving to very fruitful. I have been collaborating with other ADE’s on ideas, working with former students on school integrations, and networking with new educators.   So at #EdcampOKC I did a session on AR and VR and showed the MergeCube.  As part of my practice (and general EdCamp practice) I tweeted out that I was doing the workshop. I showed a picture of Hangry Herb an App that is kind like a gigapet where you need to feed and water the little guy to keep him happy.

The creators  saw my tweet and responded to it on Twitter.. See the exchange below.

When I found out Steelehouse ( ) was an Oklahoma company, (Tulsa about 2 hours away).. I started to make arrangements to visit. So I went to meet with them on Friday, and figured I would drive 4 hours, to meet them for an hour..  but I ended up spending the better part of the day.

So I will be honest, with my terrible eyesight, I have never been one to enjoy VR, I am more of an AR girl – because in early VR – I just cannot see..   but Steelehouse and their founder Kevin Anderson changed my mind after showing me some of their work and some of the favorite VR inspirations. 

While I thought we would spend a lot of time talking about Merge Cubes – it really just opened the conversation.   This company is well known production company in Oklahoma and they make their living on ads and promotions but their team is clearly seeing the potential of AR and VR and using it as part of their storytelling efforts.

So we had a fun frenetic conversation about the current status and future of AR and VR in education.  It was a great exchange where we got to show each other stuff and make sure we were on the same page.   I learned so much from it and I found my head spinning with new ideas, research ideas, and applications..   I went home and started reading some theory on AR and VR in education, and its been a long time since my creative gears have turned so fast..

So what did I learn from my visit:

  1. Well done Virtual Reality is about the story. If there is one great takeaway that is it.. It is not about touching unrelated stuff with goggles on, it is about having a narrative that engages the learner or participant!    Steelehouse showed me some projects they are working on – and I was engaged in the story. I forgot where I was. Even though the graphics were sometimes cartoony – the story got me.. I learned something, and I found myself wanting to know more about the topic.  And after talking to Kevin Anderson the owner – they are storytellers and that is why their content is so good.

2.   Good AR and VR content is not free.  After talking to several different app developers over the last year, this is a lesson that we must learn in education. I know we are broke.. (Come on, I am in Oklahoma.. right now we are the “brokest” education state in the country!)   but we have to be willing to pay for content that is worthwhile.  Now there is a Merge Cube app that is $50, that is a bit much, but we have to be willing to buy some apps at a reasonable price to keep the content coming or find funding to create apps to give away..(ie.. write a grant to fund the development).    This goes for all apps.  However, quality AR and VR requires animation and programmers to bring it to life.

2b.  Also I had not really engaged in Oculus beyond just grabbing stuff, engaging in an Oculus story driven scenario was totally worth it.. and the goggles and computing power was an important part of the experience and the graphics continue to come a long way from my earlier experiences. Those things all come at an expense as well.

3)The Education market for AR and VR is not clear. To prepare for our meeting, Kevin got a list of the AR and VR apps that listed as being in the education space. I only knew one of them,  Nearpod and I was able to show it to him and explain why it was so popular in education (a combination of teacher control and easy device integration).   However, the other ones that were being promoted were not on my radar. and others that I know that teachers are using like Discovery VR and NYTVR were not even listed as education VR endeavors and I know they are used widely.   For many of the VR apps that he showed me as being promoted in education, the cost of use of too high. Ie..  $10 per student per month.. Wowza.. Even CoSpaces, which I was so excited about, has gone to a subscription that does not work for US schools.  We need to pay for content -but some of the pricing models are not school friendly.  The VR content that is being developed specifically for schools is often quite pricey an maybe more appropriate for higher education settings.

4) Those that develop content want to talk to educators.  We see this with the Merge Educators group on Facebook too, and all the ambassador programs, but developers want to create meaningful and successful apps.  Having a relationship with developers helps them create things that educators can use and buy and meets our needs. Quality development has educators in the equation but also may need for us to support the apps by buying them and sharing our experiences with them.    They are business people, they don’t want to spend countless hours to develop content that no one wants.

5).  Entrepreneurs are fun to talk to . I found my day at Steelehouse productions energizing. Creatives have great ideas and they like to talk to about the future.  For a professor that is lots of fun.

So after my visit to Steelehouse in Tulsa, Kevin is coming to talk to my graduate education class on April 13th to show off his team’s projects and brainstorm with my educator graduate students.   I am super excited to see what we can come up with. We are also proposing  a research/evaluation project that has great potential if we can make it happen.. I am excited for the possibilities.

We all have a role to play to harness the power of VR in education – there is a lot of room to learn and collaborate and these technologies can be the future of education if we work together to create amazing content with learning in mind.




Some Merge AR VR updates

As people still search for Merge Cubes they are not totally sold out yet but there has been some really cool stuff happening..

  1. Merge has started an educators group.  with currently 358 Members.

This group is great in that it has many people sharing curriculum guides for the Merge Cubes and new ways to use them.

2.   I taught about Merge cubes at #EdcampOKC and I posted some pics on Twitter and low and behold one of the companies that has 4 Merge Cube Apps is in Tulsa. So Friday, I am driving out and seeing where the Magic Happens and talking about collaboration..

Check out Steelehouse Productions  Super excited to take a personal tour this week.. more to come!!!

Check their Merge Cube  Apps Hangry Herb,  Mr Kranky, Invasion, and SuperSugar Crash!

The Time is Now!

So teachers in Oklahoma and I never thought I would see the day and I am excited for them.

Much of it is being done on facebook in a group called the Time is Now

The time is now logo
Time is now Logo

Right now it is still at a talking stage but districts are pledging to support teachers.

Oklahoma teachers are some of the best educators I have ever met, in the face of disrespect they use their creativity and their sweat and tears to be there for our kids and they deserve to make a living wage.

I hope that this works out, and I hope that our legislators listen.

I am still thinking of how I can best support #Oklaed, I welcome your suggestions!  here or on Twitter @DrTerriC

I may have a problem… Merge Cube

So what is a Merge Cube and why is my teacher hoarding gene acting up?

Merge Cube is a Augmented and Virtual Reality Toy that used be around $20 at Christmas and is now on Clearance at Walmarts for $1..  It has a ton of apps available for it and it allows you to video and learn more while you use it. .

Most reviews say that it is was early to market  -but it does some fun stuff.. and well there are a ton of ideas for the classroom. For example..  this video of the pirate view game could be a great writing prompt (idea from Carrie Price)  Or using one of the anatomy apps for “looking around”

IMG_1245 IMG_1244


Here are some videos I made with the cubes.




So I may have bought a few..

And I may have gotten my former students, my husband, and even my Mom to pick a up a few..  but it has great potential. I signed up for the developer program and my husband and I are going to see what we can do.. (might as well use that masters in programming right? )

My full cart of merge cubes.
So I may have bought few..
And i may have gotten others to do it well.. (a former student and my Mom)

So You might say. I am in.. I want to find these .. How do I do it.. Here is the trick. there is a site called Brick Seek that will that will search Walmart’s inventory.

Go to:

Just choose Walmart and put in the code 854590007105 and then your zip and it will show you if they are available in your area and where.

brick seek search
brick seek search

Then it will give you a list showing inventory:  Then GO shopping.


Brick seek results
Brick Seek results


I am excited to see what educators come up with..  but there are already some resources available.

The site for the company  has some ideas.

This guide is helpful including information for login issues (under 13 etc)

An Educator’s Guide to Augment Learning with Merge Cube

A review of Merge Apps for the Classroom

If you start using them.. I am excited to see what you do.. and I am excited to develop some ideas of my own..






Should Oklahoma Teachers Strike?

You know about a year ago, someone on facebook reached out to me through a teacher group and told me about his plans to plan a strike. I discouraged him, I said you have an advocate in the state department, there is good will, lets see if they legislature delivers.  They did not strike.. I should mention that this person is no longer a teacher, they left the profession.

So now after several failed attempts a teacher raise – including the 1 cent sales text with President Boren, the Step Up Plan,  and suggestions by Joy Hofmeister in her OKSDE budget plans – I am left reflecting on if now is the time?

I see the teachers in West Virginia protesting and walking out – because they are making much more than Oklahoma and its still not enough..  and I see them on the news, and I know their legislature is getting the message.

Tonight I spent time watching the public hearing at Bartlesville as to whether they should support a teacher strike.. I was moved by the community that supported their teachers and how it was not teachers talking, it was students, business owners, and grandparents.

As I know from my study on teachers leaving, it is a hard choice for them.. but I worry that it is almost too late for your students in Oklahoma.  If another wave of qualified teachers leave, what will our classrooms look like.. 35 students, 40 students,  standing room only?  Or will we have to stop viewing teaching as a profession all together and just make sure someone is in each room?  What will the solution be?

I feel as though my perspective has changed from a year ago.  I think if teachers strike it will be justified and the only people to blame is all of us for not holding our elected officials accountable much earlier.

the whole thing makes me incredibly sad.. I know how important teachers are to our communities, to our social fabric, and most importantly to our children.

Have we crossed a line of no return?

EdCampOKC is This Weekend!

So this Saturday is EdCamp OKC but it is in Norman at Irving Middle School!   I am super excited because I love to see our students and grads and hear what they are up to.

Check out what an EdCamp is all about


They still have seats left, I really hope that you will join us!


Why to EdCamp as a Professor:

  1. it helps you build connections with local schools!
  2. It helps your students network and find jobs.
  3. You learn new things!
  4.  You get ideas for your classroom.
  5. Even if you don’t teach teachers, it can help you know what is happening in K-12 schools and improve your way of reaching Freshman and underclassmen at the University.
  6. You can learn about the Unconference Model.. (we should do more of this in Higher Education).
  7. It is Fun!

How do I Edcamp?  I am more a hallway person,I may not go to many sessions but I talk to everyone. Also, I always do a session about what future teachers want to know.  My students are usually too nervous to run their session, but I can lead them and model for them.   In this session, I invite teachers and administrators to come and answer our preservice teacher questions.   It is a lot of fun, I get to know my students better, and I love how administrators that I don’t know come to meet potential employees.

If you are a professor, there may be an EdCamp near you and this would be a great way to connect with your community.


Snow Day.. NO WAY

So it is an unexpected ice storm..  The worst kind.. They said it would not reach OKC and south in the morning but then today (10 minutes before my class) nonetheless they cancelled.  Yikes..

So my undergrad class, integrating technology into teaching meets ONCE a week.. and to make matters worse, the other section had already met!

So scramble – what to do?

Make a video and push on..  That is what a K-12 teacher might need to do.. and is this showing flexibility? sure?

We were supposed to explore robots and AR and VR technologies in class.  Totally hands on. but I was going to assign my badge on critiquing Donors Choose and reading about digital equity!  The readings are still there.

Next week we planned to talk to about using books on Technology to teach about Tech – and luckily i did a webinar on this topic for Oklahoma State Department of Education and its Archived..

So what will we do..

We will watch the video!

How do I tell students what to do, a screencast video made with Quicktime.

So is this Ideal.. No way.. but is it a way to not lose instructional time.   This happens in K-12 classroom too.. So this is a great opportunity to model what real teachers can do..




We got interviewed on BadgeChatK12

So I got interviewed on BadgeChatK12 broadcast about our use of badges in our preservice technology integration classes.

You can see it here:


We did it a little on the fly – I asked if any of my students in the morning class wanted to participate and I got 1 yes – From Brody Smith.. We were far from rehearsed but it is an interesting conversation.  We will practice more in the future so we share the time better!

Noah Geisel – is a badge pioneer who organizes BadgeSummit right before ISTE (day before). It was the highlight of my conference last year so I definitely encourage you to consider going in Chicago. (here is last year’s link)

Noah interviewed us about using badging in preservice teacher education and the who what when where and why of it.. I am proud of what we are working on and how using badges allows busy working students to create flexible learning experiences.   the chat really helped me see where we need to go.

Participating in this chat was a very reflective process for me.  First, It got me to think about how we can bolster the project by involving administrators from local schools in the process as endorsers.  Second, it helped me to think about how I should be teaching more about badging in general – ie.. I have not been getting students to consider if they will use badging themselves and more about the equity side of badging.   Third, I see that we need to provide even more choice – so students pick 16 badges from a list of 22 or so.. versus having to do all 16.   After the interviewing, I will look for outside endorsers of the badges and increase readings.

it was a little scary to talk about what we are doing – because I know that we are newbies in the badge process.  People like Rick West have been doing badging for a long time. However it is important for all levels of implementation to have a voice..  Hopefully people who heard us talk about badging which is about a year old -will be willing to investigate it and consider trying it themselves.


Please comment on this post with your ideas after you watch it.. How could we better use badging in Preservice teacher education.


Celebrating PreService Teacher Questions

This week the @oueducation students in my technology integration course took over the #OklaEd Chat. I moderated but a lot of my students attended and asked so many questions. They are hungry to know more about being a teacher and twitter provided a good forum to get those questions out and facilitate class discussion.

How did we pick the questions?

We used tricider to have all questions suggested and then we used the top 7 (we combined a few to get most of the questions out)  Tricider is a tool for brainstorming that I learned through some of my work with ISTE.  it worked well in this context. Students put up their questions and then had a few days to vote on top questions.  The key to using tricider is time to vote and formulate orginal ideas – and those two times being separate.

Here is our tricider page:

The OklaEd Chat

The chat was many side questions.  Our students had a bunch of questions, and wanted them answered – and Oklahoma educators were great at doing that.  To see the actual chat transcript visit:

Also it was featured on OklaSaid by Scott Haselwood and Erin Barnes.  This podcast dives deeper into the issues. 

In addition, we did a follow up activity that was a bust at first, but now has seemed to be valuable for those that got replies – I created a @Flipgrid for our students to post questions and then to have teachers answered. I had a few rock stars that answered a bunch, and they made it work.. but overall it was a bit of a bust because teachers are busy and I did not have that many answers.

I loved how the flipgrid showed a little picture of who had replied.

So here is what I learned from this experiment.

  1. Giving students forums to ask “real life” teachers questions is great and necessary.
  2. Find a group to get more engaged in answering – if I did this again – i would get up front agreement and not spring it on them.  (ie.. maybe a graduate class or a teacher organization).
  3. I got several several alumni to engage – which was great and helped me to foster greater alumni connections (which can be important for placement, recruiting, and to support projects as well as the alumni themselves).
  4.  Pay attention to the questions preservice teachers ask, it tells us a lot about their fears and what we project.  Most students asked about work life balance, workload, and getting a job.  This is what is on their radar and we should consider this in student teaching and first year supports. And also know that they are hearing how terrible teaching is, we need to celebrate the great parts of the job, like #TeachLikeMe and other movements.
  5. I got replies from all over the country, even people I did not know. I love how supportive the teacher community is.. but I wonder if my students get that just yet.
  6. I need to better define student roles and have them do more of the leg work in the future..  I still moderated with student created questions/tiles  but I think next time, it will be better to have a committee of students to run it.
  7. The class discussions after the chat were great. We shifted through answers that concerned them…(like stay away from Pinterest) and helped make sense of them.  It was a valuable discussion for students who participated and who did not.

Not all of the students appreciated it, but those that “got it” really made great direct connections to teachers. I have to remind myself that not all students are developmentally ready to truly participate in the teacher community – but that for those that are, its a wonderful experience.  For many others, it is an early exposure to the field and teaching community and as they grow, they will know places to find it in the future.

For the future, I may reach out and see if we can do this as part of the #TeachLikeMe movement in spring.   This would be a great way to involve Preservice teachers in the recruitment of future teachers and give #TeachLikeMe involved teachers a way to communicate their message.




What Will Students Look Like in 5 Years: Summarizing CTE Fellow

For the 2016-2017 academic year I was chosen as a CTE Faculty Fellow and given the ability to offer workshops and learning experiences for faculty regarding how students would be different in the next 3 to 5 years.

Looking Ahead!: What will students be like in 5 years! How is higher education set to change?

This faculty learning series will focus on what we can expect from students in the next five years.  This would be tied to new employment and technology focuses in common education, which is meant to make students successful and employable and how they will be bringing these experiences and soft skills to higher education.  We will also focus on the new emphases on creativity, entrepreneurship, and problem solving and the skills that students may be bringing to your courses in the near future.

It will focus on a few key areas:

  • How will students use technology and learn differently than they do today?
  • What federal initiatives and programs are being instituted in how students are using technology and being prepared for college?
  • How is higher education changing as to these needs and requirements?
  • How are student expectations of higher education changing?

For my Fellowship, I organized one book club that met four times, had three different speakers and planned one event in September 2017 for a speaker that was not available in Spring.   I worked to partner with different spaces on campus to increase attendance and encourage faculty from other colleges to mingle.

I was impressed by the variety of people from campus that I had attend, and I met a lot of new people that I found attended other events and increased my campus network. Thank you for the opportunity. I learned a lot from the experience and I believe we have enhanced the education environment for our faculty, University students, and community members.

Extended Reach

My philosophy for guest speakers were for any speaker that we used funds to bring to campus, I had events that were more public (could be attended by community members and students) and those closed only to faculty and graduate students at OU. This allowed us to increase our reach and better utilize the limited resources available. We had people attend some sessions from as far away as Clinton Oklahoma.

Additionally, as we were planning the events, I was asked to assist University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) in Chickasha, Oklahoma to assist with their innovation and technology grant focused on improving education for Native American Students. They received that grant in Fall and had personnel participate in several of our workshops to provide additional support to other educators in the state, especially those servicing Native American students and thus supported part of the mission of the University of Oklahoma.

Event Title Date
Overview of the Program – What will students look like in 5 years Presented by Dr. Theresa Cullen overviewing trends in both K-12 and higher education related to Technology and 21st Century Teaching and Learning. 9/26/16
Most Likely to Succeed Book Club – Mondays

Lead by Dr. Theresa Cullen – we spent 4 weeks reading the Most Likely to Succeed Book and discussed the use of Problem and Project Based Education in K-12 schools and 21st Century Skills.

Supporting Innovation in a Mobile Device World:  The possibility of App Development in XCode

Speaker Provided by Apple and presented in concert with the OU Innovation Hub. Attended by student and faculty form CS, Education and faculty and staff from OU IT and the Innovation Hub.

Everyone Can Code Initiative

Speaker provided by Apple overviewing how coding is being taught in K-12 and colleges and universities and the resources available. This was a high level overview for faculty held in the Peggy Helmerich Community Classroom in Bizzell library.

Writing Apps Using XCode An Introduction and Resource Sharing

Speaker provided by Apple to have students and faculty learn about App development in the curriculum. Students in both undergraduate and graduate Education and Journalism courses encouraged to attend. 

Tap Into YOUR Creative Mind

Rabbi Michael Cohen did a workshop on sketchnoting and engaging students in creative pursuits as part of teaching to encourage creativity and engagement.  We had many students, USAO faculty, OU faculty and teachers from local schools attend the event.

Design Thinking Workshop

Rabbi Michael Cohen facilitated a Design Thinking workshop that encouraged faculty and graduate students to redesign a part of their course taking student needs in mind. Faculty were very happy with this workshop and felt they had gotten work done that they could apply to their classes immediately. This workshop had a great cross section of campus and people worked with faculty they had not worked with in the past.

Stand by Me  Collaborating and Making as Acts of Empowerment

This presentation offered by Bill Rankin it was open and promoted to the public and talked about how online collaboration enhances education and promotes a global view point.

Lecturing is [not] Dead: Teaching in the Third Information Age

This workshop with Bill Rankin encouraged faculty to think about how they could use technology to enhance engagement in traditional courses.

Learning Outside the Box: Growing an Ecosystem for Learning

This presentation by Bill Rankin  encouraged faculty to think about new ways to engage students. It discussed several theoretical models about levels of engagement including the importance of Community, Content and Context in curricular planning. This was held at the Faculty Scholarship Lab conference room in the Bizzell library.

Redesigning Higher Ed: Starting a New College

Michelle Jones, President and Founder of Wayfinding Academy in Portland Oregon explained how she designed a new college to help students find their purpose.  In this mixed crowd of students and faculty, she also gave ideas of how some of the activities could improve the experience for current students even at a much larger university.

Reaching Students in Their First Year of College: Lessons Learned from Wayfinding Year 1

This presentation by Michelle Jones encouraged faculty and those involved in student services to think about how we can scale up the lessons learned from Wayfinding to better support our students and grow their satisfaction so they will thrive.


Thoughts on the Series: 

I am so fortunate to been afforded this opportunity to work with faculty from across campus. I found the discussions greatly enhanced my view of the University and our mission to serve our students.  I also made connections that I am pretty sure will turn into future collaborations across campus.

Additionally, it allowed me to share what I was reading and thinking about with a larger audience beyond my scholarship and better connect with faculty and staff in student services.  Several students attended the public events and it has allowed me to cement some student relationships which I find very fulfilling..

If I were to do it again, I might engage in a project approach and have faculty showcase their own work. I had wanted to do a faculty, K-12 educator, parent, potential student and current student listening panel to discuss these ideas at the Annual TSI (Teachers Scholar Institute) but due to scheduling and budget cuts, it never materialized.

I hope to have opportunities in the future to do more work with faculty.  I would especially like to do a series on how we can use distance technologies to increase our presence and service within our state.



Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education