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Embedding Experiential Learning into Professional Development with Interactive Virtual Learning Environments

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Using Technology to Improve Instruction

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius. The use of virtual simulation is one innovative practice that can be part of the evolution of teacher preparation and professional learning that provides a platform for experiential learning. Just as teachers are changing the way they use technology when teaching students, so must teacher educators and professional developers adapt to include innovative technologies like virtual learning. The use of virtual learning environments to approximate teaching situations is emerging as an effective instructional technology providing teacher candidate more practical experiences incorporating evidence-based practices (Andreasen & Haciomeroglu, 2009; Dieker et al., 2008; Mapes, Tonner, & Hughes, 2011; Stigler, & Hiebert, 2009, Zhu et al., 2011). Virtual classroom simulation allows for repeated practice of critical teaching behaviors without the risk of negatively impacting student performance. Virtual learning environments provide a controlled setting to practice fidelity of implementation in strategic instruction and coach key teaching behaviors. Allowing teacher candidates and those participating in professional development to “do” what we are teaching them allows them to “understand”.

Learning Outcomes and Next Steps:

1. Participants will learn and discuss the potential of virtual learning environments to provide more experiential learning for future and practicing teachers.

2. Participants will participate in a virtual learning simulation to determine how this technology could be used for teacher education and for professional development.

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