The Evolution of Teacher Education Through Emerging Technologies of Mixed Reality Simulation

The Evolution of Teacher Education Through Emerging Technologies of Mixed Reality Simulation

Denise LaVoie Sargent (Fitchburg State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1770-3.ch002
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With increasing accountability in teacher education, mixed reality simulation has emerged as an evolving technological tool to enhance and refine teaching practice. Mixed reality simulation has gained traction in many preservice teacher preparation programs because it provides endless opportunities for repeated practice without consequences to students. The purpose of this chapter is to examine how mixed reality simulation is being used to prepare and train preservice and in-service teachers, strategies needed to successfully implement a simulation session, and lessons learned. Findings indicate that simulation is used to study and facilitate teacher development, classroom management, and behavioral interventions for students with disabilities, pedagogical and instructional strategies, and collaboration with adults and parents. Implications on teacher preparation are discussed.
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Teaching is a complex and dynamic practice that embodies specialized knowledge and skills needed to impact student learning as well as to navigate the evolving social, economic, and political landscape in today’s classrooms. Although policymakers, accreditation bodies, and wealthy, private foundations have considerable leverage and influence on the field of education, teacher preparation programs must be at the forefront of developing and implementing innovative practices to ensure that preservice teachers are ready to enter the classroom fully prepared to teach. Consistent calls for improvement in schools have led to greater accountability of graduates’ impact on K-12 student learning. As a result, many preparation programs have followed a national movement toward increased time in K-12 classrooms through yearlong practicums and robust early field experiences.

A significant voice and accrediting body, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, CAEP (formerly National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, NCATE) issued a report in 2010 calling for a complete revamping of teacher preparation programs to include increased field experiences.

The education of teachers in the United States needs to be turned upside down. To prepare effective teachers for 21st century classrooms, teacher education must shift away from a norm which emphasizes academic preparation and course work loosely linked to school-based experiences. Rather, it must move to programs that are fully grounded in clinical practice and interwoven with academic content and professional courses. (NCATE, p.ii)

The challenge for teacher preparation programs is not to just provide more time in K-12 classrooms, but to ensure that preservice teachers are engaged in meaningful and supportive experiences with effective models of content delivery and teaching skills. Careful consideration must be given to the placement in these classrooms so that the knowledge and skills learned in coursework mirror their experiences in the field. This connection of theory to practice supports the transfer and application of learning in preservice teachers.

This demanding, clinically based approach will create varied and extensive opportunities for candidates to connect what they learn with the challenge of using it, while under the expert tutelage of skilled clinical educators. Candidates will blend practitioner knowledge with academic knowledge as they learn by doing. They will refine their practice in the light of new knowledge acquired and data gathered about whether their students are learning. (NCATE, 2010, p.ii)

Without focused attention on the application of learning in the field, there is no guarantee that the high-quality instruction given in coursework is being implemented in their practice. Some may argue that increased time in classrooms will likely improve practice; however, more time does not ensure that preservice teachers will have quality experiences with effective teaching modeling and coaching needed to improve their practice. Preservice teachers must be given numerous opportunities to practice and refine the specialized knowledge and skills they learn in coursework in a safe, supportive environment where there are no consequences to students. An evolving solution for teacher preparation programs has been to adopt digital tools like mixed reality simulation.

Since the early 2000’s a growing body of research has emerged on the use of virtual reality tools to train preservice and in-service teachers. The developing field of educational technology has pushed teacher educators to rethink the possibilities that these technological tools can provide to an increasing tech savvy student population. This chapter focuses on the impact of implementing mixed reality simulation in teacher preparation programs and in professional practice. In addition, it will delineate promising practices used in conjunction with simulation sessions that successfully facilitate preservice teachers’ transfer of learning into practice.

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