I came across something so absurd, and so initially shocking, I almost thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it isn't.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached a new height in absurd uses of technology. I give you: TeachLIVE.
The name itself is a joke because there is no teaching involved, and it is nowhere close to "live."
I wanted to write last night, but 24 hours later, I'm still so frustrated by this that I'm having trouble staying coherent. In short, University of Central Florida has decided that teachers learning to teach in real classrooms poses a threat to students. In fact, they believe learning to teach in a real classroom can be so harmful, they make sure you know this from the opening sentence:
TLE TeachLivE™ is a mixed-reality classroom with simulated students that provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment that doesn’t place real students at risk.
Somebody pinch me.
This program is selling snake oil at the expense of the profession of teaching. Again, from the about page:
In the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab, pre-service and in-service teachers walk into a room where everything looks like a middle-school classroom including props, whiteboards, and of course, children. However, unlike the brick and mortar setting, the lab is a virtual setting and the students in the classroom are avatars.
It makes me sad because this is being heralded as a new age of teaching teachers. Hell, if we can't make kids fit standardized tests, let's train teachers to respond to standardized kids, so it's easier to give the tests when you're in front of real children. Plus, kids are a real pain to deal with when you're learning to teach.
There's even a promotional video (which I had to keep pausing because the ridiculous jumps by a factor of 100). I posted it below, if you want to try and watch it:
Again, this is highlighting the sad fact that the teaching profession in America is being slowly eroded. I'm planning on writing a letter to UCF to express my utter dismay at the idea that training teachers on a simulator is an adequate substitute for authentic teacher preparation. I want to encourage you to do the same.