October 10, 2013
As we face class-size increases, new or improved standards, reduction of budgets, higher and higher levels of accountability and whatever else can be thrown at us as educators, we wondered what would happen if we just stopped for a minute, closed our eyes and dreamed about a utopia in education. What would we dream? Would we see classrooms in jet planes traveling the world, unlimited access to the latest developments in technology, teachers supporting each and every student, daily massages for our hard working classroom teachers, or would we simply dream of peace, happiness and harmony for each student who walks into the door of a school?
No matter the dream, one of the things we have learned in our work with TLE TeachLivE™ at the University of Central Florida (UCF), a virtual classroom simulator (http://www.ucf.edu/teachlive), is that if we can continue to dream in education it is really hard to ever retire. This blog comes from a 20+ year veteran and a 40+ year failed retiree in education who daily come to work not for the pay (we know there are lots of professions that probably would pay us more), but for the dreams that have been coming into fruition for us over the past decade. These dreams are focused on our work in developing a mixed reality environment we see impacting teacher development and teacher performance. In 2012, our team was honored to receive the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education Award for Innovative Technology, but without any award or recognition we and our computer scientist colleague, Charlie Hughes, would most likely still spend our spare time playing in our virtual classroom simulator.
We have found that our simulator allows us to compress experiences that occur over time in the classroom to rapidly impact teacher practice, and while allowing us to dream daily. We now are using our simulator in a range of projects from helping recruit school kids into STEM careers, working with students with autism in social skills training, having teachers practice parent conferences, principals practicing conferences with teachers, and our future dreams include college dormitory residence assistant training, improving the bedside manner of medical personnel, and training hospitality majors in various service roles.
So, we wanted to encourage you to simply pause for 60 seconds in your day and to blog your dream related to the potential future of simulations in education. What types of tasks would you want to rehearse in a simulator before tackling the task with real people? As you post your thoughts, we also encourage you to dream beyond dealing with daily tasks you find difficult to do – but to what can you do when you stop to dream. This country and our success with TLE TeachLivE™ and in education in general has been built upon this spirit of dreaming that we can do anything. We have had a dream to impact change in education in new and innovative ways. We have learned that in the world of simulation when you dream as a team innovation will emerge.
So we invite you to post your dreams related to the intersection of simulation and training with education. The dreams of today become the reality of tomorrow.
We look forward to responding to your dreams about the use of technology, particularly mixed reality technology, to impact teacher effectiveness and student learning.