Archive for July, 2016

Simulated Classrooms

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Today I participated in a webinar designed to share a new possibility in teacher education. As a technologist, I am often approached about the potential for using immersive virtual environments as a way of training teachers to interact with a classroom full of students.

The technology is becoming much more engaging and the experience of interacting with student avatars is very real, some would say “surreal.”

As a teacher, you can write on a virtual blackboard and interact verbally with the avatars. Note that there is a real human being behind the avatars following scripts designed to encourage or challenge the teachers.

I am not at all sure that future Colleges of Education will ever see these simulators as part of their training but that may because I was trained with real students in real classrooms. That said, aircraft pilots have had trainers for decades and nurses and doctors are using 100,000 dollar simulator mannequins that  bleed and breath at the push of a button in a control room, so it is not unreasonable that these simulators should be used to train new teachers in “high-leverage” practices.

Google Cardboard

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

I meet infrequently with a local software designer, Ian Natzmer, whose company, Odeum Learning, is designing interactive games for students. A year ago, I thought virtual goggles were far too pricey for most schools and may have dampened his enthusiasm a little. Yesterday, an inexpensive alternate to VR Googles, the $10 Google Cardboard,arrived and I was hooked. I spent hours being drawn into the virtual experiences of walking down the streets of London, New York, and rural Japan, standing on the surface of Pluto, then virtually skydiving.

I’m rethinking my position.

Google Certified

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

This fall, Dr. McVey will invite every teacher candidate in the program to consider working through the online Google Training Center to earn a Google Certified Educator badge for their web site or resume. Already an active user of Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Forms, and more he did not need much review time before taking the online examination. The three-hour exam was a thorough check of the basic skills required to use the Google Apps for Education tools. Cost for the Level 1 test was $10; for Level 2 the cost was $25.

After speaking with several recruiters last spring, he became convinced of the certificates value to teachers. “The examination, itself, is well-constructed and organized. It was a pleasure to work through the activities and I am not a fan of examinations,” said McVey.