Avatar Lab at KSU Provides a World of Scenarios for Teachers of the Future

Child Interacting with avatars as educators observe.

This article and photo originally appeared in Cobb Life Magazine and are reprinted with permission.

Teachers encounter all sorts of situations when they’re instructing students in the classroom, and the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University is taking an animated approach to preparing teacher candidates for scenarios they will experience as educators.

Bagwell has a new laboratory where KSU students and faculty utilize mixed-reality technology to interact with avatars of children and adults, simulating a variety of situations and challenges teachers can encounter. The student avatars each have their own unique personalities, and the scenarios have low, medium and high settings requiring varying levels of problem-solving.

“The lab’s capabilities are endless for providing purposeful practice for teacher candidates before they ever step foot in a classroom,” said Kate Zimmer, interim chair of the Department of Inclusive Education and an associate professor of special education.

Virtual Classrooms Deliver Real Advantage for UM Education Majors

 

This article and photo originally appeared on the University of Mississippi Ole Miss News website and is reprinted with permission.

Meet Ava and Dev. They are in middle school. Ava is quick-thinking and decisive and likes to be challenged with new ideas and concepts. Dev is a rule-follower who is self-driven with high standards.

Ava and Dev are not your average students. In fact, they are not even real students at all. They are avatars in a virtual classroom at the University of Mississippi School of Education, where education majors are gaining valuable, hands-on teaching experience even before their student teaching.

Mursion, originally called TeachLive, is a cutting-edge technology that delivers customized virtual reality training to provide professional challenges that exist in the job every day.

Developed at the University of Central Florida, Mursion is being used at more than 85 campuses in the United States. Since 2012, Mursion has grown at UM. Last school year, 800 students in the School of Education practiced with the system and are required to use it at least twice as part of their coursework before graduating.

Towson University Builds Clinical Curriculum Through Virtual Simulation

In Fall 2017, AACTE member institution Towson University’s College of Education launched a pilot program, SIMTeach@TU, to strengthen its clinical and practice-based curriculum through virtual simulation. The program features eight faculty who develop problem-based case scenarios for teacher candidates to experience real-world human interactions with avatars via the virtual reality technology called Mursion. The training simulations recreate the most demanding interpersonal challenges that teacher candidates may confront in the classroom with PK-12 students. It allows preservice teachers to practice and master the complex interpersonal skills necessary to be effective in difficult situations.

“We see simulation—or approximations of practice—work as part of the trajectory of getting our preservice teachers ready to work with real students in classrooms,” said Laila Richman, associate dean of the College of Education at Towson. “We think about this as the first phase of a university-based clinical curriculum that moves them towards being able to work with students.”

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