"Interactive Technologies for Teacher Training: Two Technology Approaches and Their Implications"

By Julia Meritt, David Gibson, Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek and Wilhelmina Savenye



A widespread problem in schools concerns classroom management. While pre-service teachers are generally well-prepared with regard to pedagogy and subject matter, they are often less well-prepared in the area of classroom management considered broadly to include managing students with different backgrounds and levels of understanding as well as students becoming disengaged and disruptive. Most teacher preparation programs include an internship requirement, which involves working under the supervision of an experienced teacher for a number of hours in a particular classroom that may or may not be representative of the classroom in which the graduating teacher will be placed. As a result, teacher induction programs are being developed to help integrate incoming teachers in the particular culture and context of their schools and classrooms. In spite of efforts to support teacher induction and better prepare teachers in the area of classroom management, the high attrition rate of teachers in their first five years suggests persistent problems. Many of these problems concern the challenges of classroom management. This session demonstrates two highly interactive technologies aimed at giving pre-service and new teachers improved training in the area of classroom management. Both technologies involve simulations since it is not practical to provide teachers with actual interactive experiences with the many different kinds of student behaviors they will encounter. One approach involves a Second Life environment in which pre- and in-service teachers play the role of a classroom teacher or students in a classroom. The students can be programmed to exhibit different behaviors and the teacher has to react to these unanticipated behaviors. After the SecondLife session, the class can de-brief the session and discuss the behaviors and how the teacher responded, including suggestions for alternative reactions on the part of the teacher. A similar environment is supported in simSchool. The simSchool environment is simpler to create for a particular session and can be used to support classroom management as well as professional development, activity design and development, and promote an understanding of a variety of student behaviors. After each environment is presented, researchers and a discussant will provide a constructive critique and comment on the challenges of assessment and other aspects of these highly innovative technologies for teachers. The session will close with questions, comments and suggestions for subsequent R&D from participants.


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