PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- The Pace University School of Education and the Ossining Union Free School District have embarked on a partnership to support the refinement and development of early-career teachers’ skills using innovative avatar technology, with the help of a grant.
The Ossining school district was awarded a two-year, $537,625 Strengthening Teacher and Leadership Effectiveness grant from New York state in fall 2013.
The activities of the grant will take place over 2013-15 to expand the career ladder for teachers and offer professional development and mentorship opportunities, especially for novice teachers with one to two years’ experience.
Novice teachers from schools throughout Ossining will work with their mentor teachers to develop and refine instructional skills through use of Pace’s TeachLivE avatar technology, a sort of "flight simulator" for teachers that uses student avatars in a virtual classroom.
The avatars are not programmed and can give teachers a realistic experience of dealing with different students and learning styles in one classroom. The technology can also accommodate simulation for parent-teacher conferences and bilingual instruction.
“Simulations have long been used to prepare soldiers, doctors and other professionals,” said Joan Walker, associate professor at the Pace University School of Education. “The TeachLivE avatar technology now makes simulation a part of teachers’ professional development. It’s a modern bridge across the age-old gap between teacher preparation and teacher practice.”
Teachers who elect to be a part of this program will attend the TeachLivE lab sessions after school at an Ossining school. They will develop their avatar session objectives for their individual sessions with the avatars to develop specific, individual skills.
The first phase of these workshops will be conducted through June. A second phase is planned for August, during districtwide orientation for all teachers. The Pace-Ossining avatar initiative will continue into 2015.