TeachLive: Using Immersive Simulations to Practice Being a Teacher

Lesley Graduate School of Education (GSOE) faculty members Maureen Creegan Quinquis and Susan Patterson are wrapping up a successful year piloting TeachLive, a new immersive technology to prepare teachers for classroom experience. TeachLive (produced by Mursion) allows faculty to guide teacher candidates through several types of classroom situations from behavior management to practicing for parent-teacher conferences.

To learn more about this initiative, rewind to the summer of 2016.  Faculty members Maureen Creegan Quinquis and Susan Patterson, collaborating with GSOE Dean Jack Gillette wrote a grant proposal to the Department of Education (DESE) to allow Lesley students to gain access to a new technology tool that blends an immersive experience with live action by an actor. They wrote a proposal detailing the elements of teacher preparation that immersive virtual reality could most effectively address. Specifically, it provides students with experience in:

  • Classroom management
  • Parent-teacher/community relationships
  • Special education practice, particularly developing skills in differentiation
  • Job interview practice

Lesley was awarded the grant for equipment and services in August 2016, allowing GSOE to offer this experience for candidates in initial licensure programs. The equipment for the program is situated in a dedicated space in University Hall. Faculty schedule time with their students to interact with virtual students. Faculty introducing the tool have work closely with students on the preparation, the live simulation itself, and then debriefing after the simulation—all of which are essential components to learning from an immersive simulation.

In Fall 2016, Elementary/Creative Arts in Learning and Elementary and Middle/High School students began working with two of the simulation scenarios:

  1. a classroom setting of 8th graders with a variety of personalities and levels of knowledge;
  2. a parent teacher conference where the teacher is speaking with family members about their child’s progress or presenting a serious issue to the family.
image from http://www.rdmag.com/article/2016/04/simulation%E2%80%99s-teaching-moment

image from http://www.rdmag.com/article/2016/04/simulation%E2%80%99s-teaching-moment

The faculty members report that in addition to providing the space to “practice” with simulated students, there is a real benefit to being able to also pause the simulation to debrief specific moments or to step back from the situation.  As Professor Creegan Quinquis notes, “If I have a group of students who have been working on differentiated ways to present a lesson; they can all be in the room fishbowl style– they can watch each other to try and present the lesson. If the student candidate suddenly freezes– he/she can say “pause” and then ask for help or let someone else step in, or we can have a discussion right there in the room. You get to practice it several time.  What’s interesting is how much like real life it is. You have this experience of feeling like it’s really happening…The beauty of this is that they can make mistakes and have a safe space to practice” …before ever getting in front of real students.

Apply to the 2017 Summer Academic Technology Institute

Join your Lesley faculty colleagues for an exciting, immersive professional development opportunity!

The Summer Academic Technology Institute is an opportunity for faculty to participate in a learning community across disciplines and schools engaged in an exploration of the effective uses of technology in teaching, learning, collaboration, and scholarship. This event is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, and organized by eLearning and Instructional Support. To apply for the Summer Academic Technology Institute, please complete the brief application form here.

All faculty — core or adjunct — are welcome to apply.  Faculty who consider themselves basic technology users or who do not currently use technology in their teaching are especially encouraged to apply. Faculty selected through the application process receive a $500 stipend for participation in the institute.

The program features a 4-day institute in June, held at University Hall. Faculty engage in a rich mix of dialogue, hands-on practice, project-based learning, reflection, and application to explore innovative ways technology can be integrated into their teaching.

Examples of workshops from past Summer Tech Institutes include:

  • Putting Technology in Its Place
  • Designing Lessons for Engagement
  • OneDrive: Collaboration Made Easy
  • The Student Experience in Online Learning (panel)
  • Designing and Facilitating Online Discussions
  • Introducing Media Into Your Blackboard Course

Expectations for Summer Academic Technology Institute Participants

Faculty are expected to:

  • Participate in all four days (~9am to 4 pm) of the institute: June 5-8, 2017
  • Develop a technology-enhanced learning activity for a 2017-2018 course
  • Attend or participate in at least one professional development outreach activity during the 2017-18 school year

Important Dates

April 7, 2017 Applications Due
April 21, 2017 Participants Announced
June 5-8, 2017 Summer Institute


Application

To apply for the Summer Technology Institute, please fill out the 2017 application form.

Blending Diversity into Online Teaching

As a way to incorporate Lesley University’s Inclusion Plan into teaching and learning opportunities, we created a new activity in our Online Teaching Seminar this February.

eLIS’ Teaching Seminar is designed to help prepare first-time online instructors to facilitate their courses. One of the exercises in the seminar is to participate in a discussion about scenarios that instructors may encounter when teaching an online course. We created a new example where one student makes a racist remark towards another student in an online discussion. We then ask our seminar participants how they would handle the situation if this happened in their course.

We had the instructors prepare for the discussion by reading a couple of resources on diversity and inclusion teaching:

Based on the readings, the instructors had a great conversation and offered advice to one another.

One question that was heavily discussed was the idea of depersonalization when debating potentially sensitive topics. Instead of asking students how you may feel about a topic, you can ask them to present an argument for or against said topic.

Additional topics that developed during the conversation included:

  • After an incident occurs, do you address the whole class or just address the students directly involved?
  • Is there a need to provide statistics or studies to controvert racist assumptions?

There may not be a definitive answer to these questions, but we wanted instructors to wrestle with these questions and deepen their own standards for teaching.

Introducing VoiceThread’s New Integration with Kaltura Media

VoiceThread has announced a new integration with Kaltura Media. You may now pull your Kaltura video content into VoiceThread quickly and easily!

To begin, create a new VoiceThread or edit an existing VoiceThread. See Creating and Editing VoiceThreads for more information.

Click on the “Add Media” button.
VT Add Media button

This will bring up a menu. Select Media Sources.
VT Media Sources

This will bring up a list of media sources. Select Kaltura.
VT Insert Kaltura Media

All of your Kaltura videos should begin loading on the screen. Select any video to insert it into your VoiceThread.

Once you have imported your video you may begin adding comments. See Commenting on VoiceThreads for more information or watch the tutorial video below:

Lessons learned from running our first online Design for User Experience course

Today’s post is by Lisa Spitz, Lesley Assistant Professor and consultant for the College of Art and Design’s bachelor’s program in design for user experience.


In Fall 2, 2016 we ran our first course in the Design for User Experience program, Typography 1. 10 students signed up for the course. Excitement ensued. And then I started looking into the class roster. Of the 10 students, just 1 was a Design for UX student. The remaining students represented a mix of Business, Counseling, and Psychology programs. As a new program in an entirely new category for Lesley, I realize that it takes time to market and enroll new students. Nonetheless, I was a bit disappointed by the turn out. I didn’t question the applicability of the content to individuals “outside the field”. Principles of good typography is something anyone can benefit from. But I was worried about the complexity of the learning activities I’d planned and the Adobe software that was required to complete them.

What I learned over the subsequent 8 weeks is the importance of being flexible and the benefit of testing a course with individuals outside your domain. Let’s start with the latter point. For those familiar with Universal Design for Learning or Inclusive Design, it’s a bit like that. If you can make your course “work” for individuals outside your program, chances are it will work better for those inside your program as well. I’m not talking about “dumbing down” content or removing requirements. I’m talking about adding instructional supports to make the course content and expectations clearer. Here are a few ways I made that happen while the course was still in flight:

Providing better prompts
As a typography course, students were expected to create several designs and critique the work of their peers. However, journal entries revealed that students lacked the confidence to do so and some even felt hypocritical critiquing their peers’ work. The original critique questions I’d provided assumed they could judge which design was best (or worst) and give concrete recommendations on what to do next. But students were not sure how to assess the work of their peers. How would they know which was best? They certainly could tell which one they liked, but could not articulate why it was better. So, I went back to the drawing board and made the questions more personal. “What words would you use to describe this?”; “What is being emphasized?”; “What interests you about the design?” Etc. These questions were easier to answer. They required students to respond based on what they saw and how they felt, not what they deemed to be “good” or “bad”.

Original critique language:Critique_Before

Revised critique language: 
Critique_After


Creating more explicit directions

As a visual learner, one of the biggest challenges I faced when creating my own online course is finding ways around the “wall of text”. To explain an activity requires quite a bit of documentation. Aside from using all video or images, there’s almost no way around it. And when confusion arises, the tendency is to double down with more explanation. Instead, I took a step back, added images, cut text, and used more headings and bulleted lists – detailing process, specifications and steps for completion.

Original assignment description: (click for full size image)
direction_before_crop

Revised assignment description: (click for full size image)
directions_after_crop

Personalizing the feedback process
As students submitted their design work each week, I used the Assignment Tool to provide feedback. Originally, I defaulted to the WYSIWYG editor and took to writing what I thought worked/didn’t work and needed improvement. However, it felt as if some of my feedback was getting lost in translation. Again, the wall of text. Midway through the course I switched to video. Instead of writing a single piece of feedback, I recorded my screen as I looked at each of their design options and spoke about their use of typography in great details. If I’d have typed that feedback out, it would have been a novel. But to record it took just a few minutes. Students appreciated the new format and commented on how incredibly helpful it was.

All of these changes required a great deal of flexibility on my part. I ended up re-writing each week’s content before it went live; I added images to show, not tell; I created videos that demonstrated how to do the assignments; I offered up 30 minute 1:1 time slots to address individual challenges; and I gave feedback that was personal and specific. In the end, I had students comment on their appreciation for typography and design. But more importantly, I witnessed their transformation. When week 1 started, students proclaimed themselves unable to be creative. When week 8 finished, they professed the ways in which they were using their new knowledge of good typography to impact their professional and academic lives. As for myself, I still have some work to do within the course curriculum – but am confident that the results will be even better the next time around.