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Educational Operations

Simulation of classroom of students so teachers can practice management skillls


TeachLivEis a simulated teaching experience, where a teacher teaches a virtual classroomto practice instructional skills, delivering specific content and pedagogy andmanagement skills. Rather than teachers having to test out their skills on areal live classroom to assess their strengths and weaknesses, TeachLivE letsthem test on virtual students. The virtual students have been programed withdistinctive personality types based on the work of psychologist William Wong.This means that in each simulation, they each take on the same personalityevery time.

Teacherscan decide what skills they want to develop - say, classroom management orteaching via the Socratic method. The virtual students are coded to respond inways that help teachers develop those skills. The teacher shares his or her objectivewith the TeachLivE team. Two weeks later, the simulation is ready to run, and theteacher can begin.

Theteacher uses a large monitor to see the five virtual students, and with thehelp of a (Microsoft) Kinect cable and the TeachLivE software, the teacher’sactions will trigger various responses among the virtual students.

TeachLivEwas developed by University of Central Florida in 2008. It has since been usedby over 10,000 teachers in over 37 universities, including both pre-service andin-service teachers. Users engage in the simulation, as much or as little asthey want. Some are assigned based on a class they take to do the simulationuntil they master a specific skill. Others might be assigned to use it onlyonce for a short ten minute session.

  • Purpose: Support
  • Primary Users: Teachers, administrators, and/or districts
  • Cost: The cost is fee-based. Currently, universities pay $120 an hourwhile the simulation is running. They can include as many students during thathour as they want. UCF typically recommends teachers use the system for10-minute long simulations. Ten-minute sessions run $20 each.
  • Skill Development: The product targets a teacher’s pedagogy skillsand/or content knowledge, depending on the user’s preferences. Subjectstargeted for improvement in the simulator can range from running fire safetydrills to teaching freshman algebra. Teachers come in with a specificobjective, experience the simulator, and then review their efforts.
  • On-Brand Use: Educators articulate what they want to get out of thesimulator, based on their interests or desires for improvement.
  • Off-Brand Use: The technology gives potential teaching candidates a chanceto practice what it’s like to manage a small class before they become teachers.
  • Platforms: TeachLivE is not browser-based. Schools require a Windows-basedcomputer, a $100 Kinect cable, some sort of projector/projection screen, andthe TeachLivE software installed on the computer.
  • Deal breakers: The software hasn’t been released on a browseryet, so the TeachLivE product requires a great deal of collaboration with theTeachLivE staff and prep work.
  • Types of SchoolsUsing It: 37 universities across the country are using it with in-service andpre-service teachers. 

Product Brief

Value Added

TeachLivEis a simulated teacher-practice experience that offers several value-addedqualities. First, it’s personalized; teachers and/or schools submit theirobjectives to the UCF team, and the UCF team creates a simulated experience inresponse to those objectives. Teachers can have a TeachLivE “experience”individually or collectively.

Additionally,the experience provides quick feedback. Immediately after a ten-minute session,the computer can give feedback based on the participant’s actions and responseson items such as wait time between questions and answers, number of open endedquestions asked, or percentage of teacher talk versus student talk.

Finally,TeachLivE is an opportunity for first-year teachers to practice before goinginto a classroom. It provides them with a space to test out classroommanagement strategies, content strategies, etc.

How does it work?

To set-up, the UCF team Skypes with the participatinguniversity to install the software onto a Windows-based computer. The team usesTeamviewer, software thatsets up a VPN connection to access the users’ computer and install the software(as well as future updates.) Additionally, participants must have a $100 Kinectcable for the simulation gear and a projector. In the Skype meeting, the UCF teamtakes the users through a demo and discusses the objectivesthey have for the user’s simulation experience. The UCF team works to developthe simulation and has it ready two weeks later.

The UCF team can set up the experience in a variety of ways.One area they can manipulate, depending on the user or objective, is the levelof student behavior the avatars display. This happens on a 0 to 5 scale (forexample, for a simulation where the teacher practices classroom management, 0represents relatively normal and calm student behavior, while 5 representsout-of-control student behavior). Teachers can also choose between working withfive virtual middle students (who are seated in rows) and five virtual highschool students (who are grouped at tables).

The service is mixed reality virtual simulation, where the students arevirtual and the teacher is live. The teacher walks into a room where (on a largemonitor), there are five student avatars on the screen (with whom theyinteract). Much like a user would activate their Kinect or Wii, the user walksin front of the Kinect cable until the system confirms they are identified.Then the teacher can walk around the room, and their voice and gestures will bepicked up by the Kinect cable as they interact with the virtual students on thescreen in front of them.

A walkthrough of the simulation and feedback process can be seen here.

Feedback gets delivered following the experience. Thecomputer gives coded feedback (at the end of a session, the teacher gets apop-up screen that shows a graph of performance in targeted areas). Users canchoose what they want feedback on, such as wait time between questions and answers,number of open ended questions asked, or percentage of teacher talk versusstudent talk.

How is it used?

Participantsmust submit their objectives to UCF two weeks before they intend to use thesimulator. UCF typically recommends teachers engage in 10-minute sessions (eitherper teacher or group).

Eachexperience can be specific to the needs of the teachers and/or administrators.A pre-service or new math teacher could use TeachLivE to practice teachingalgebra to moderately disruptive students. Teachers struggling with classroommanagement can use the tool to practice run-throughs of new managementtechniques they want to try on their own class. Teachers at the middle schoollevel could practice dealing with students’ emotional outbursts. Or teams ofteachers could practice working through student issues together.

Who’s Using It?

Asof late 2013, the tool has only been used at universities, although 37 siteshave participated.   In total, TeachLivE reps anticipate that closeto 10,000 teachers have used the tool since work began in 2008.

Existingpartner universities that sponsor TeachLivE in teacher courses and localschools include Florida State University, University of Kansas, and Utah StateUniversity.

Content, Content, Content….

Learningobjectives are sent to the UCF team two weeks in advance. After the tech teamanalyzes any potential limitations (like the fact that student avatars in anEnglish class shouldn’t have a calculator with them), they put together asimulation that is specifically tailored to the need of the participant(s).

Animportant note: One caveat for classroom management: avatars can’t be kickedout of the classroom.

Training,Integrating, and Implementing

Alltraining and implementation takes place via a Skype conversations between UCFand the participating universities. This process takes approximately two weeks.

Assessment and Data

Researchin the field of computer technology has gone into creating these simulations. Thereare many instances of using simulated environments for training, starting withthe military and airplane pilots. There’s far less data about how such simulationscan be used to shape people interactions (such as teachers or even managersworking with a team.)


Thistechnology is still emerging: technical glitches can degrade the experience. Specifically,when there is a technical error, the student avatar signals that they have to“go to the bathroom.” A that point, the student may “stay in the bathroom” foras long as the glitch persists, therefore halting progress in the TeachLivEexperience.



Currently,TeachLivE is not browser-based. Schools require a Windows-based computer, a$100 connected chord, some sort ofprojector/projection screen, and the TeachLivE software installed on thecomputer.


Thecost is fee-based. Currently, universities and schools pay $120 an hour whilethe simulation is running. However, most places don’t have teachers in thesimulator for more than 10 minutes. Ten minute sessions run $20 each.Currently, individual teachers can’t sign up to use TeachLivE, but as thecompany moves to being web-based, the team expects this will change. 


Creditis based on the professor and university using the tool.


Thereis no current competition in this area of simulated teacher prep. The closestproduct is Sim School or DeliveringPerformance Feedback, but currently, TeachLivE is the only fully immersiveexperience. The programming also rivals the design of EcoMUVE at HarvardUniversity, but in terms of teacher preparation, there is no simulation programlike TeachLivE.


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