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Student utilizing TeachLiVe teaching simulator.

Published July 3, 2018

Effective teaching through technology

Student teachers use simulated environments to improve teaching skills

The Graduate School of Education is participating in a program called TeachLivE that uses a simulated teaching environment to assist in the preparation of student teachers. The simulated environment is one tool that allows student teachers the opportunity to learn teaching skills and craft their practice without placing “real” students at risk during the learning process.

TeachLivE, developed at the University of Central Florida, is currently being used at over 85 campuses in the United States, including school districts and international partners. The University at Buffalo is one of the participating campuses, and TeachLivE is housed within GSE’s Neurocognition Science Laboratory.

The laboratory offers the TeachLivE environments for students studying to be teachers, as well as other education professionals. UB education majors stand in front of a large-screen TV monitor. On the monitor is a computer-generated classroom with five student avatars who confront the education majors with common student behaviors.

“Think about flight simulators where pilots practice flight skills for lots and lots of hours, so they can acquire skills prior to flying actual aircraft,” said Richard Lamb, director of the Neurocognition Science Laboratory. “TeachLivE offers some of the same kind of opportunities for someone who wants to be a teacher.”

TeachLivE is currently being used in selected GSE courses. Prior to practice in the simulated teaching environment, students complete assignments that prepare them for the skills needed to succeed in the simulation. Following the experience, students are required to reflect on their performance during the simulation. The overall response from GSE students and professors has been positive.

“We put our students in classroom simulations so they have the opportunity to practice skills and behaviors consistent with effective teaching,” said Elisabeth Etopio, GSE’s assistant dean for teacher education. “With New York State examining how to improve clinical experiences for novice teachers, we’re excited to be leaders in making use of simulated teaching environments, as well as building new tools for students to acquire teaching skills in immersive and authentic environments.”

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