Would teachers find professional development via simulated classrooms useful? This was one of three questions that Toni M. Smith, principal researcher, and Rachel Garrett, senior researcher, from the American Institutes for Research (AIR), explored in the Simulated Instruction in Mathematics Professional Development (SIM PD) Study. The following are excerpts from a summary of their research findings and from what they shared at a May 14, 2020 online event hosted by Mursion, whose virtual reality learning platform was used in the study.
Funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, SIM PD is a pilot of an exciting, new PD program being conducted by AIR. SIM PD offers opportunities for teachers in grades 4–7 to (a) learn about questioning strategies and facilitation of student discourse to promote engagement and understanding of math concepts and (b) practice implementing those approaches using a mixed-reality classroom.
They randomly assigned 16 partnering schools to either participate in SIM PD or continue with business-as-usual professional learning during the 2018-19 school year. They collected documentation of SIM PD activities during implementation and video-based observations of math lessons from both groups of teachers.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
As part of our Education Roundtable Series, Mursion will host three leaders for a conversation on the current state of upheaval that is bringing about a transformation in teacher preparation. Join hundreds of your colleagues tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19, 1:00 p.m. ET to engage in conversation with amazing, pioneering women in education. Plus see a simulation of a virtual classroom between a teacher and avatar students. Register to attend (or to receive the link to the recording of the event). Here’s the agenda for the hour:
Jacqueline Rodriguez, assistant vice president for programs and professional learning at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), will speak about the following:
How Virtual Classrooms Can Help Train Preservice Candidates
“Currently, under normal times, this would not count in Texas. This may change with pandemic issues,” chimed a participant at a recent Mursion Roundtable webinar. This was not an ordinary Zoom event though. It was a group of educators who gathered to test drive a classroom simulation for “Introducing Content for Middle School.” Messages in the chat were flying. In true teacher form, they were engaged, curious, forthright and funny. Several chat messages started with “I’m here to learn …”
What does it actually mean to train a teacher candidate in a simulated clas sroom? What does that look like? How does it feel? One brave volunteer blurted, “I’m terrified …and excited, but mostly terrified.” For those who have observed a first-time participant jump into a simulation, what follows is quite predictable. The learner starts out very tentative. Within minutes of the student avatars appearing on screen, they’re conversing and chuckling at the students’ responses. Then at their command “pause simulation,” they pop out of the scenario with a sigh and a wow. “That was very realistic,” is the usual description of this new experience.