- The University of Buffalo, State University of New York, is giving pre-service teachers more classroom time in a virtual reality environment where they can more easily learn how to address difficult situations, EdTech: Focus on K-12 reports.
- The program is funded by a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant program and uses a VR headset and 360-degree videos that place teachers in the thick of challenges, such as students playing on cell phones.
- In the thick of these scenarios, the student-teachers are presented with a list of reactions that include options like letting it go, raising their voice, or calling for additional teacher support.
From field trips to renowned museums and landmarks to simulating environments and situations from the distant past, virtual reality has been hailed as an opportunity to present students with scenarios they may not otherwise be able to experience due to factors like geographic location or resources. And now VR's journey to the classroom has also brought it to the realm of teacher training.
As EdTech notes, not giving pre-service teachers plenty of classroom time in their preparation has been a common pitfall for many programs. But new tech is allowing them to be placed in a variety of situations where they can choose the best course of action with minimal consequences, "gamifying" the experience and providing them with better insight for when they're presented with the real deal. For programs looking to add more online components for distance education students, this approach could prove even more valuable. Opportunities for real face-to-face classroom experience will remain a necessity for pre-service teachers, but virtual prep opportunities will likely become an important tool in getting them ready to face those challenges.