Of all the activities that I have participated in through the Learning Technologies program, I think the site visits has personally been the most beneficial. It is hard to see the relevance of some of the material until you see it being utilized by real people, in real settings. Based on their candid answers to some of our questions, it was clear they were not just being paid by the professor to tell us what we wanted to hear. We heard the real business side of Learning Technologies and the political or corporate challenges that they face.

Our most recent visit started with a quote from the Head of the Center for Immersive and Simulation-Based Learning (ISL) at Stanford University of Medicine

“Simulation” is a set of techniques – not a technology per se – to replace or amplify real experiences with planned experiences, often immersive in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion. – David Gaba

We visited the PolyClinic – a Medical Simulation Lab. They believe in Immersive and Simulation-Based Learning. People in the medical profession should be exposed to as much as possible in a zero risk environment, so they are more confident and accurate when they treat real patients. Seeing the different simulations they could run was fascinating. Of course, after my experience last year, I’m not sure I really wanted to see the simulation for laparoscopic surgery. I guess I should just be happy that my doctors probably trained on the machines since it was through the same hospital system.

This was the first site visit that always uses the five ADDIE steps. The first two places were for-profit, so they tended to glaze over A and E if the customer was unwilling to pay (which is a normal occurrence).

While I will never personally have use for a medical simulation lab, I did brainstorm a simulation that would be a great resource for beginning and pre-service teachers. I do not know to what extent these already exist. Management skills are a challenge that all new teachers face. You get theory in the classroom, but no actual practice. There should be a simulation for different actions of students, different ages, different settings, and even different times of the year. All of those influence the action-reaction chain. I have a different management system in the classroom as when I am lunch duty, my management looks different between the 6th and 8th graders. No one taught me these specifically, it was found out through trial and error. The risks of doing something for the first time are not as large as in the medical profession, but I did have to deal with some angry parent conversations because they did not feel the punishment fit the crime. The simulation should let teachers take a few steps into the process before it provides feedback (at least for the more complicated management situations). I can picture some of the perfect situations now … too bad I don’t have the programing expertise to make them a reality.

Some of the information I found about the topic:

Pre-service teacher learning is enhanced when pre-service teachers regularly participate in
the complex decision-making processes that teachers make in classroom settings. However, pre-service
teachers classroom experiences are typically limited by lack of regular access to quality
classroom experiences (Ramsey, 2000).

  • There are frequent mentions in articles for the Cook School classroom management simulation. However, I could not find any actual details about it.
  • SimSchool – an online classroom simulation to help build teachers skills. This looks like it has the most potential.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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