ISU Headlines

Idaho State University College of Education in simSchools research partnership; virtual classrooms help education students in real world

Posted October 6, 2011

Faculty members in the Idaho State University College of Education’s Departments of Educational Foundations and School Psychology Literacy, and Special Education (SPLS) have been accepted as Level Three Research Partners in the simSchool Modules Project.

simSchool's classroom management module is an online learning simulation designed to help education students and teachers to experience virtual classroom learning environments and learner interactions that emulate situations that commonly occur in K-12 classrooms.

The ISU College of Education has received nearly $38,000 in software and other funding to use in support of research projects related to the effectiveness of the simSchool classroom management module. More information on simSchool is available online at www.simschool.org.

The simSchool’s simulation is intended to promote understanding of K12 students' behavior and learning styles and allow students and teachers to practice effective classroom management techniques, according to Beverly Ray, ISU Educational Foundations chair and professor.

The simSchool database includes 2 million different scenarios that instructors can randomize or pre-select for use. Scenarios can be tailored to individual needs so that a student or teacher can experience and reflect on areas that challenge his or her teaching effectiveness. It also allows participants to consider how to respond effectively to a multitude of management and learning issues before stepping into a real K-12 classroom.

simSchool is being researched via an international network of more than 75 colleges of education, including Idaho State University, the University of Virginia, James Madison University, North Texas State University, and Sofia University in Bulgaria. Research projects will focus on whether simSchools can generate relevant benefits in terms of the mastery of deeper learning outcomes such as self-efficacy, critical thinking, complex problem solving and collaboration. Faculty in the ISU College of Education will also consider the module in terms of effective instructional design.

Creation of the simSchool modules project was funded by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), with funding from EDUCAUSE in partnership with The League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The original funding for the NGLC initiative was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (see http://www.educause.edu/nglc for more information).

Additional modules for use with education students will be announced later this fall. For more information about the simSchool project at ISU, contact Beverly Ray, Professor of Educational Foundations at raybeve@isu.edu.

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