Starting over with TeachLivE!
November 11, 2015
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Bright-faced and eager, a pre-service teacher instructs a small group of middle school students in the TECH Playground. The teacher has wisely selected the topic of popular music to teach the otherwise bland subject of note-taking as she guides her pupils through the process of formulating Cornell notes. As she teaches the difference between main idea and supporting details, a quirky voice interrupts with, “Um, can I just say your outfit is spot on! I so love that scarf!” The pleasant humored teacher grins and turns back toward the Smart Board screen where she sees her five students. She addresses the outspoken student sitting towards the back of the virtual classroom who is casually leaning back in her virtual chair with her virtual arms crossed and wearing a virtual smirk, “Thank you CJ! But let’s talk scarves after class. I don’t want you to miss this.”
“Okay!” the snarky middle schooler chirps back.
The teacher calmly continues with her lesson as other pre-service teachers wait their turn to try out one of the newest acquisitions to the TECH Playground, Mursion’s TeachLivE.
All teachers have had that moment when they wish they could rewind a conversation with a parent that went sour, a lesson that proved disastrous, or even a whole day that didn’t turn out as expected. Imagine being able to do just that in the classroom: wipe the slate clean and try again. TeachLivE provides that opportunity.
Bringing the elements of a virtual environment to teacher education, TeachLivE allows pre-service teachers to practice skills such as classroom and behavior management, questioning, and methods for delivering effective instruction with student avatars in a virtual classroom. These avatars, who can be middle school or high school students, are startlingly believable in their behaviors and their intuitive interaction with each pre-service teacher. Each avatar has a distinctive personality and a tendency towards certain mannerisms and behaviors, as one would expect of live students. To simulate the diversity of real classrooms, avatars are available who have special needs or are English language learners. The instructor guiding a session with TeachLivE even has the option of adjusting the behavior levels of the virtual classroom to elevate the challenge of classroom management. The pre-service teacher can talk to each avatar and engage him or her in discussion. The avatars respond just as one would expect of a student in today’s classrooms.
Unlike a real life classroom, if a lesson does not go as planned during a session with TeachLivE, the program can restart, and the teacher-in-training can reflect upon the experience, adjust his or her strategies, and start again. Imagine having this opportunity to be a new teacher but being equipped with methods and strategies tested and practiced until mastered!