Ann Clements, associate professor and the graduate program chair for music education in Penn State's School of Music, is exploring how a virtual reality classroom featuring artificial intelligence (AI) "students" can be used as a training tool for pre-service student teachers. The AI-driven virtual classroom offers opportunities to practice various student engagement techniques that these pre-service teachers may not have had before.
"This technology provides students with an immersive experience where they can make meaningful mistakes in a low-stakes environment," Kyle Bowen, director of Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) at Penn State, said. "Through repetition and practice in a virtual classroom, future teachers can find their voice and make the most of time in the live classroom."
Clements worked with members of Penn State's Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) to develop this AI classroom prototype, known as First Class. Utilizing rows of virtual students in a classroom environment and Microsoft Kinect, a motion-sensing input device usually used with video game consoles like the Xbox, First Class allows pre-service teachers to practice teaching skills and techniques as well as experience the classroom in terms of the varying abilities of their future students.