How VR technology is preparing pre-service teachers for the classroom
In the current global climate, the practice of teaching has been flipped on its head, with many schools running lessons online for the very first time. While teaching to a computer screen might be a very strange experience for those accustomed to the classroom setting, many online students will already have these digital skills under their belt in addition to their usual real world classroom placement experience.
Meet Bachelor of Education (Primary) student, Steph. She is currently studying in the final teaching period of her course from Mortlake in South West Victoria. Studying with Swinburne Online allows Steph access to high quality learning and support and a leading student experience from the convenience of her own home. Her flexible study timetable allows Steph to stay on track with her study, connected with her teacher and peers, and organise her study schedule around her employment commitments and personal pursuits.
While she started her study journey pursuing Criminology, Steph found her love of teaching when working in an Education Support role at a local school. She transferred to a teaching course through Swinburne Online not long after and since then, has never looked back.
“Online study has been amazing for me. It has enabled me to work full time and spend time with my family when they are home.”
A virtual reality (VR) classroom simulation is one of the many innovative tools created to enhance the online study experience to date. This learning opportunity, currently offered online to Swinburne Education students, provides students with extra teaching and classroom experience and practise from the comfort of their own home. As shown in the video below, the simulation has our pre-service teachers present a lesson to life-like, on-screen ‘student’ avatars, powered by a mix of Artificial Intelligence and our Simulation Specialists who respond in real-time.
“This technology is an opportunity to test out lesson plans and teaching techniques without it being detrimental to real-life students. The real time responses are so helpful and often catch you off guard – just like real kids.”
Though Steph still travels far and wide to attend her placements at schools, she found the convenience of the simulation to practise and try things out “outstanding”. It helps build confidence in the classroom, while also supporting preparation for placement and post placement by recreating lessons to continually improve on her teaching practice.
“Moving forward, this kind of learning is going to become more and more popular and this technology is crucial to giving education undergraduates as much experience as possible before sending them on to educate kids.”
Particularly in the current situation, where many pre-service teachers have had their placements delayed to later in the year, or shifted to remote/online delivery, this gives Steph and her peers a great place to practise their teaching skills. Steph believes that VR technology could also be incredibly valuable to educational practitioners at all stages of their career.
“This is scary and new for all of us, but I already feel more comfortable because I have talked to my screen in the VR simulation already, so teaching like this is something I have been lucky enough to practice.”
As for post-graduation plans, Steph is currently feeling quite flexible. She hopes to pick up some relief teaching for the remainder of this year and put her best foot forward for any ongoing teaching positions that become available in her local area next year.
“I am not too worried about what happens next – I just want to get there!”