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Teacher Training in Virtual Environments
Unformatted Document Text:  TEACHER TRAINING IN VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS Janet B. Andreasen Erhan S. Haciomeroglu University of Central Florida University of Central Florida ## email not listed ## ## email not listed ## This study sought to examine the merits of TeachME – an innovative virtual teaching environment for teacher training – in teacher education programs. TeachME, Teaching in Mixed-Reality Environments, provides an environment in which the students are virtual and the teaching is real. In a semester-long methods course, prospective secondary mathematics teachers developed and taught lessons in this virtual environment. In this collaborative training environment, the prospective teachers focused primarily on delivery of a lesson to accommodate the diversity of students and how to manage the classroom. Our results suggest the use of virtual environment can be beneficial to teacher training. Introduction Traditional teacher training programs focus primarily on developing prospective teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge – what to teach and how to teach it in ideal environments. Environments for teacher training often include field experiences, microteaching experiences, and internships. These are widely used and accepted methods for training prospective teachers for the classroom, yet teachers in their first years of teaching often face difficulties related to classroom management. Without adequate management of student behavior the content knowledge of the teacher becomes irrelevant. This begs the question as to whether there may be an additional method for teacher training which could assist beginning teachers, particularly in classroom management. This study reported here sought to examine the merits of TeachME – an innovative mixed-reality teaching environment for teacher training. Development of TeachME Given high teacher attrition and turnover in public school settings due to difficulty managing classroom behavior (Swan, 2006; Veenman, 1984; Hollingsworth, 1988), a discussion began amongst the education faculty at a large university in central Florida. The question became, “How can we prepare teachers to manage the classroom and student behavior without putting teachers and students at risk?” The answer was a mixed-reality teaching environment for teachers to practice their skills prior to entering the classroom (Hughes, Stapleton, Hughes, & Smith, 2005). The mixed-reality environment is called TeachMe (Teaching in Mixed-Reality Environments) and is housed at the University of Central Florida (UCF). TeachMe is the result of a unique collaboration rarely seen in education to develop the educational technology for teachers of the future. The outcome of this collaboration between education, computer sciences, and simulation technology provides a path to address the problem of teacher attrition by creating a working, mixed-reality environment to train beginning teachers (Dieker, Hynes, Hughes, & Smith, 2008). The initial prototype focused on behavior and classroom management, an area of concern for most beginning professionals (Goodell, 2006; Van Zoest, 1995). One goal of the mixed-reality environment is to create an interactive, simulated environment to train beginning teachers in mathematics, science and special education before they enter the teaching force. The

Authors: Andreasen, Janet. and Haciomeroglu, Erhan.
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Janet B. Andreasen
Erhan S. Haciomeroglu
University of Central Florida
University of Central Florida
This study sought to examine the merits of TeachME – an innovative virtual teaching 
environment for teacher training – in teacher education programs. TeachME, Teaching in 
Mixed-Reality Environments, provides an environment in which the students are virtual and the 
teaching is real. In a semester-long methods course, prospective secondary mathematics 
teachers developed and taught lessons in this virtual environment. In this collaborative training 
environment, the prospective teachers focused primarily on delivery of a lesson to accommodate 
the diversity of students and how to manage the classroom. Our results suggest the use of virtual 
environment can be beneficial to teacher training.
Traditional teacher training programs focus primarily on developing prospective teachers’ 
content and pedagogical knowledge – what to teach and how to teach it in ideal environments. 
Environments for teacher training often include field experiences, microteaching experiences, 
and internships. These are widely used and accepted methods for training prospective teachers 
for the classroom, yet teachers in their first years of teaching often face difficulties related to 
classroom management. Without adequate management of student behavior the content 
knowledge of the teacher becomes irrelevant. This begs the question as to whether there may be 
an additional method for teacher training which could assist beginning teachers, particularly in 
classroom management. This study reported here sought to examine the merits of TeachME – an 
innovative mixed-reality teaching environment for teacher training. 
Development of TeachME
Given high teacher attrition and turnover in public school settings due to difficulty managing 
classroom behavior (Swan, 2006; Veenman, 1984; Hollingsworth, 1988), a discussion began 
amongst the education faculty at a large university in central Florida. The question became, 
“How can we prepare teachers to manage the classroom and student behavior without putting 
teachers and students at risk?” The answer was a mixed-reality teaching environment for 
teachers to practice their skills prior to entering the classroom (Hughes, Stapleton, Hughes, & 
Smith, 2005). 
The mixed-reality environment is called TeachMe (Teaching in Mixed-Reality 
Environments) and is housed at the University of Central Florida (UCF). TeachMe is the result 
of a unique collaboration rarely seen in education to develop the educational technology for 
teachers of the future. The outcome of this collaboration between education, computer sciences, 
and simulation technology provides a path to address the problem of teacher attrition by creating 
a working, mixed-reality environment to train beginning teachers (Dieker, Hynes, Hughes, & 
Smith, 2008). 
The initial prototype focused on behavior and classroom management, an area of concern for 
most beginning professionals (Goodell, 2006; Van Zoest, 1995). One goal of the mixed-reality 
environment is to create an interactive, simulated environment to train beginning teachers in 
mathematics, science and special education before they enter the teaching force. The 

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