Teacher training methods could take a giant leap into the future if a new program being developed by the University of Central Florida takes off. The university's education school has teamed up with a private business and experts from the school's engineering, computer science, mathematics and theater departments to develop a program that uses avatars to simulate real-life classroom situations.
The program, called TeachME, enables teachers-in-training to hone their skills in front of a projection screen that displays five student-like avatars controlled by "interactors." The interactors are from the university's theater department, and have spent months learning students' behavioral, psychological, and developmental traits. The fact that the avatars are controlled by humans in real-time makes this technology far more realistic than any previously-devised simulation programs.
The news surrounding TeachME isn't entirely positive, namely the cost. As of now, just acquiring the machinery needed to run TeachME costs up to $7,000. Add to that the cost of paying the interactors (roughly $120 per hour), and the program may be more bomb than blockbuster.