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Gregory S, James R. VirtualPREX: Open and Distance Learning for pre-service teachers. 2011.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/9331
VirtualPREX: Open and Distance Learning for pre-service teachers
PREX is acknowledged as essential for teacher preparation and school-based practice sessions to allow pre-service teachers to apply pedagogical theories in a realistic teaching situation. Pre-service teachers invariably enter the workforce ill equipped for their professional role. This unpreparedness contributes to the rise in attrition rates when students undertake Professional Experience (PREX). Formative assessment explicitly designed to promote effective learning is the single most powerful educational tool available for both supporting high-quality learning and empowering lifelong learners. Through a 3D virtual primary school classroom students can practice their classroom teaching skills via role-play, learning, teaching, evaluation, reflection and self/peer/educator-assessment to consolidate their learning. Access to classroom-based practical experience, whilst highly advantageous, is high-cost; can be problematic; offers limited self-review of performance and does not provide pre-service teachers with a sufficiently broad range of experiential professional learning opportunities. The emergence of new technologies to foster active experiential learning provides the potential to develop virtual professional practice environments comparable to a live classroom experience. This gives pre-service teachers extended practice opportunities through interaction in and with a virtual environment to try out skills and apply concepts in a realistic setting in their own time, at their own pace, through an open and distant learning opportunity. This paper discusses the design and implementation of a 3D immersive virtual professional experience environment, VirtualPREX, incorporating formative assessment and a constructivist approach to provide pre-service teachers with experiences that reflect the complex, diverse and multi-faceted nature of a teacher's role in classrooms.