A brief history of TeachLivE
The TeachLivE project, including its technologies and paradigms, resides under the CREST umbrella. TLE TeachLivE™ is a mixed-reality classroom with simulated students that provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment without placing real students at risk. To our knowledge, this lab is currently the only one in the country using a mixed-reality environment to prepare or retrain pre-service and in-service teachers. The use of TLE TeachLivE™ Lab has also been instrumental in developing transition skills for students with significant disabilities, providing immediate feedback through bug-in-ear technology to pre-service teachers, developing discrete trial skills in pre-service and in-service teachers and preparing teachers in the use of STEM-related instructional strategies.
TLE TeachLivE™ was initially used at UCF to provide support to students in the Transition to Mathematics and Science Teaching program. These students are career changers in mathematics and science preparing to enter the classroom as middle school teachers. As TLE TeachLivE has matured, representatives from four countries have visited the TLE TeachLivE environment.
In the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab, pre-service and in-service teachers walk into a room where everything looks like a middle- or high-school classroom. However, unlike the brick and mortar setting, the lab is virtual and the students in the classroom are avatars. The virtual students may act like typically developing or not-typically developing students, depending on the objectives of the experience. Participants can interact with students and review previous work, present new content to students and provide scaffolding or guided practice in a variety of content areas, and monitor students while they work independently. In this environment, prospective teachers can learn the instruction and management skills needed to become effective teachers, and practicing teachers can hone and refine their skills.
In real classrooms, students might get bored and become difficult to manage when an instruction or management routine is repeated. In the TLE TeachLivE™ lab, instruction and management routines may be repeated with an individual teacher or across several teachers using the same instructional context until the routine is mastered. The instruction or management context can be changed systematically to examine how participants respond to a changing classroom environment. If novice teachers perform poorly or if experienced teachers want to experiment with a new teaching idea, using TLE TeachLivE™ poses no danger to the learning of any real student.
In real classrooms, only one teacher can practice an instructional or management routine with a group of students in a traditional internship or practicum setting. In the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab, several teachers can instruct the virtual classroom over the course of one hour.
CREST is currently housed in the Teaching Academy on UCF’s main campus, which includes office space, equipment aligned with numerous simulation activities (computers, HMDs, Spire, etc.). The center is staffed by an administrative assistant, post-doctoral scholar and director of education and training.
Where we are today
The CREST team focuses on basic and applied research involving the use of simulation to assist people to improve their skills in complex human-to-human interactions. We use and develop a variety of technologies in support of this research. These include devices and means to detect emotional and behavioral responses of participants to potentially high-stress situations. Our latest major efforts center around using artificial intelligence informed by multimodal sensors to determine the emotional states of participants in a simulation. Of particular interest to us are the challenges of doing this with children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) -- See Zoobee's World below. We also develop and employ tools that assist our partners with reflective learning, with or without coaching.