Teaching is as rewarding a profession as they come. But teachers sometimes need a little more practice in the classroom before they’re polished enough to get apples from students. That’s where the California State University, Northridge’s TeachLivE system comes in.
Imagine a flight simulator, except the cockpit is a classroom and instead of navigating flight plans, it’s a lesson plan. That’s the gist of TeachLivE, a virtual reality simulator that allows CSUN teaching students to put in practice what they learned — without having to worry about using impressionable (or irascible) students as subjects.
“The system is a virtual classroom,” said Sally A. Spencer, an associate professor in CSUN’s Department of Special Education. “It has five avatars, each of whom represent unique personalities in the classroom. It is controlled by a combination of artificial intelligence and a live person, and allows teachers to get in front of these five kids and practice their skills.”
The teachers navigate around stools that are digitally marked to represent desks and have actual conversations with “kids” who answer them in a variety of ways, from a grunt to fully formed thoughts. CSUN student Amanda Schramling, a member of the Special Education Credential Program, found the program helped ease the nerves and focused the soon-to-be teacher on her lesson plan instead of wondering what might happen next.
“I think it’s great for new students,” Schramling said. “You’re able to practice, practice, practice and you’re not harming children or messing up any sort of curriculum that they may be getting.”
Read More: CSUN Education Students Practice Teaching with Avatars in Virtual Classroom (Digital Stories)