Education students practicing for the classroom through virtual reality

Teacher candidate speaking with avatar students

ABERDEEN, S.D. – A new learning tool offers Northern State University education students the chance to experience the classroom using virtual reality.

The Mursion Virtual Reality Simulation offers an innovative approach for teacher candidates to acquire and practice new skills, said NSU Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Anna Schwan. Schwan brought the technology to Northern after trying it out at a conference in Maryland.

“As a former secondary classroom teacher, I would have given anything to be able to practice before I stepped into the classroom,” Schwan explained. “I knew right then that I had to do whatever I could to offer this simulation technology to our students at Northern State University. We are the teaching university in the area; it's only right that we give our students everything we can think of to help them be successful as teachers.”

To help implement the technology, Schwan wrote and received the NSU Extended Realities Grant. Now, teacher candidates in her Classroom Management Course are trying out the Mursion Virtual Reality Simulation, which allows them to enter a world where students are virtual (avatars) but the teaching is real. They can practice privately or in group settings, teaching avatars ranging from elementary through high school age. 

Schwan said students were nervous at first, but handled the avatars very well.

“They are very receptive to anything that will help foster their self-efficacy as confident classroom managers and effective teachers,” she said. “They are excited to be able to use the technology on an individual basis in the safety and security of their own environments.”  

To learn more about how Northern State University enhances teacher education, visit the NSU Millicent Atkins School of Education online.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a student-centered institution that provides an outstanding educational experience, preparing students through the liberal arts and professional education for their future endeavors. A regional university, Northern offers rigorous academics; diverse civic, social and cultural opportunities; and a commitment to building an inclusive environment for all points of view. Northern also offers a broad-based athletics program, sponsoring 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate varsity sports that compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NSIC). The university strives to enrich the community through partnerships such as its Educational Impact Campaign, which opened a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; new athletic and recreation fields; and, soon, an on-campus regional sports complex. With the $55 million campaign, NSU has been the recipient of more than $120 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.