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.

Giving Students Access to Film Footage and 3D Models to Enhance the Studio Experience

Matt Nash, Chair of Video and Animation at the College of Art and Design, received a $2,500 Academic Technology Innovation Grant in Fall 2016 for the purchase of professionally-produced data assets for students to use in Digital Filmmaking and Animation and Motion Media courses. The data assets are raw film footage and 3D models, which will be edited and manipulated by students in courses that focus on concepts of 3D animation, editing theory, advanced technical proficiency, audio design and other aspects of post-production.

Two sets of digital assets were purchased through the grant: professional produced film footage ($1,050) and 3D animation models for Autodesk MAYA ($950). The grant award also includes the purchase of portable hard drives ($500), which will store the assets that will be available for check out by faculty and students.   The acquisition of these sets of video assets allows the Animation and Digital Filmmaking faculty to focus on their primary pedagogical goals without the distraction of creating and managing assets that are outside the learning outcomes.

The Teaching and Learning with Technology committee reviewed the proposal and found it aligned with the criteria for grant funding including:

  • Funding request is primarily to purchase hardware or software
  • The hardware or software represents innovative use of technology to advance teaching and learning
  • Priority is given to projects that would have a direct impact on students

If you are interested in applying for an Academic Technology Innovation Grant and would like more information, please email tech.grant@lesley.edu.

Faculty Spotlight: Martha McKenna

Martha McKenna is a professor at Lesley University and the Director of the Creativity Commons. As part of her work to support creative exploration in teaching and learning across the university, McKenna is currently heading up a two-year grant-funded project called the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project. This cross-division collaboration aims to support faculty across the university in recognizing, promoting and evaluating non-traditional visual and media literacies in their classroom practice. As the project heads into its second year, we caught up with McKenna to see what role academic technology has played in the Visual Literacy project so far, and how it might intersect with the project’s goals going forward.

[eLIS]: The faculty involved in the Visual Literacies project are a diverse group from across the university, all with busy schedules and other priorities. How have Lesley’s academic technology resources helped to facilitate the project despite these challenges and lay the foundation for an authentic group collaboration?

[McKenna]: Academic technology played a critical role in connecting faculty across the university in the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project.  Through myLesley, we were able to create a learning community where communication was centralized, and where all resources were made available and easily accessible. We have also been able to capture all of our faculty’s activity in the community’s Blogs. The eLIS staff helped us think through how best to utilize myLesley, and helped us to adapt the tools to suit our unique purposes.

[eLIS]: What do you see as the biggest challenges that lay ahead as the Visual Literacies project moves into its second year and scales up to reach more instructors and classrooms across the University? 

[McKenna]: We are excited to move forward with the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project across the undergraduate schools. Since the Project encourages faculty to integrate text and image more creatively in their teaching and learning environments, faculty will naturally be expanding their use of digital resources in the classroom, and many could require exposure and training to support this evolution in their practice. We will also be counting on myLesley to help us reach and coordinate the efforts of greater numbers of faculty across the undergraduate schools.

[eLIS]: With the success of the project so far in a select sample of face-to-face classrooms, do you see potential for this work to impact distance education and online instructional practices at Lesley University? 

[McKenna]: The Visual Literacy InFUSION Project provides an opportunity for all faculty to think about how digital resources can expand the engagement of students in learning and expressing what they know through text and images using new media. This transformation away from text-centered instruction can only expand the way we look at online learning resources and delivery of instruction. And since our approach has students become active agents in their own learning through project-based assignments, it is perfectly suited to create new possibilities in Lesley’s online learning environments.

The Emergence of Learning Analytics: Evidence-based Decision Making

Learning Analytics is a fast-growing field in education focused on the use of data to improve teaching and learning. Learning management systems are starting to include dashboard tools with visual data displays, products like ALEKS use adaptive learning technologies in concert with analytics tools to provide students with personalized learning experiences, and Columbia University has recently established a Master’s degree in Learning Analytics.

While definitions vary, the focus of Learning Analytics is usually data that instructors and students can use, particularly during instruction, to positively impact learning. Below is an example of a dashboard in the open source learning management system called “Desire2Learn” showing course data for one student:

LA-D2Ldashboard

A different example of data used in teaching is shown below. This table is from Kaltura, which is integrated with myLesley (Blackboard). It shows data related to views of a video in an online professional development seminar facilitated in May, 2016. Such information can allow instructors to know which students are viewing the media and how much they are viewing:

 

Kaltura Data

A final example from the open source LMS called “Sakai” shows the nature of student interaction in online discussions through a social network diagram. This data can be used early in a course to find out which students are less involved, which could be future group leaders, and the level of collaboration in the discussions. As a course is running, an instructor might want to use this data to refine or redirect discussion activities, and enhance the course’s interactivity. This kind of useful information is much harder to discern using the typical discussion tools in learning management systems.

LA-Sakai

We have no doubt that you will continue to hear more about Learning Analytics as the technology you use to support your teaching integrates data that is more visually accessible and actionable. Making use of this information in the right way can only enhance the learning experience you deliver – making it more targeted and responsive.

To find out more about Learning Analytics that are currently available to in myLesley, contact elis@lesley.edu.

Technology Innovation Grant: Infusing iPads into EEDUC 5104: Literature for Children and Young Adults

“Through the support of this Technology Innovation Grant I hope to further my own knowledge, improving my abilities to model effective and innovative technology integration for the practicing and prospective teachers in my courses.” Erika Dawes, Associate Professor, Literacy

Erika Dawes, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education is the most recent recipient of a Lesley University Technology Innovation Grant. The grant award will be used to purchase an iPad Pro (Wi-Fi 32GB), essential accessories and iTunes credits for purchasing apps. Access to the iPad Pro will allow Erika to test and evaluate content creation apps, prepare presentations and platforms for content exploration, as well as increase her competence with using a tablet as an instructional tool.

This spring, in her Children’s Literature course, Erika will be employing a set of 11 iPads (previously purchased for the GSOE with a Verizon grant) with the goal of trying to understand how this type of technology can improve the learning experience of teacher candidates while simultaneously serving as models for ways they could incorporate technology into their teaching methods and curriculum design.

EEDUC 5104: Literature for Children and Young Adults is a survey course focusing on resources for locating and evaluating literature across a wide range of genres and serves as an introduction to teaching strategies. Erika’s objective is for her students to become familiar with a range of content creation apps that can be used to encourage, facilitate, and share responses to literature and text sets. Her other goal is for the students to articulate an orientation toward the integration of technology in curriculum design and instruction. By incorporating the use of iPads, Erika plans to assess “whether a tech tool exists that would improve either [her] delivery of content or the students’ opportunity to process and innovate on content.” As part of this assessment Erika will be administering a pre and post course survey where she will ask the practicing and prospective teachers about the potential effectiveness of tech tool integrations. Lesley University sets aside dedicated funding each year to support faculty who are integrating technology into their academic work. The Technology Innovation Grant is open to Lesley University faculty and the application deadline is rolling. For details on grant program and the application process, contact eLearning and Instructional Support at elis@lesley.edu.