Addressing the global crisis of learning and closing the digital divide includes education systems that empower young people with the skills of the 21st century that can be made possible with the introduction of technological instruments into their classrooms. Nevertheless, teachers still lack not only the technical skills themselves, but also the pedagogical experience to enable students to pursue study activities that take advantage of technology access. Education at global, theoretical and realistic levels is a pillar of quality education. This ensures and preserves an instructional cycle that creates effective learning that can be adapted to the advent of new ideas and techniques. However, various factors - poor implementation of teaching strategies, weak implementation of legislation, lack of resources and personnel, lack of equally adequate skills across regions and local areas, lack of job opportunities, insufficient time and distance access - all lead to discrepancies in teacher preparation, while the demand for preparation continues to increase.
The restricted circumstances surrounding teacher training prompted an creative approach to the Myanmar project of Connect To Learn. Virtual Reality (VR) can be used to promote teacher training in a comfortable and individual interactive environment in which teachers can exercise pedagogical approaches and incorporate new forms of ICT at their discretion and as often as possible. This removes the pressure of high training expenses, per diem during training hours, travel to training facilities or school days missed. Whilst technology deployment will not remove the need for personal and customized instruction, the VR for teacher training pilot was initially conceived when the project started drafting a sustainability plan for the current project Connect to Learn Myanmar, which was launched in 2015.
Connect To Learn Myanmar is a project led by Ericsson and funded by Qualcomm Wireless Reach, in collaboration with the Earth Institute. Increasing the quality of education and student participation, especially for girls, in secondary schools in marginalized communities, it provides ICT solutions to 31 schools with personal teacher training. With the conclusion of the project in 2019 and funding for in-person teacher training, the project proposed interactive content housed in the VR environment that teachers may continue to use even after project completion under the Ministry of Education supervision.
With medical and entertainment industries exploring their vast range of possible applications, the VR trend is growing rapidly. The application of VR to the education world is still very interesting in its infancy. Research shows that this emerging approach to teacher training can bring positive results for teachers, in particular in terms of learning class management skills, encouraging interactive teaching and providing opportunities to apply specific teaching methods (e.g., integrate ICT into inquiry-based learning) and promoting ongoing formative evaluation.
The curriculum creation needed to incorporate many aspects: the alignment of contents to existing Myanmar curricula, the incorporation of learning-centered teaching strategies, the integration of ICT in class and input based on virtual classroom events.
Based on pedagogical practices promoted in the present project context, specific teacher education goals, which are: Design and metrics of the VR environment were first specified by:
- For teachers to use backward design (in view of the desired outcomes first) to identify learning goals and activities
- For teachers to involve students mainly with learning approaches based on students
- For teachers to apply various pedagogies, like ICT techniques.
- For teachers to teach the life of students
- For teachers to participate in formative assessment exercises
Such training goals and activities have been translated into a conceptual flow framework created by VR Mysticraft, which offers steps by which teachers can engage the student in the topic by recalls prior experience, incorporate new curriculum material with student experiences and recommendations for appropriate teacher responses, and promote learner-centric learning. Given the scope of the project, it was a priority to incorporate ICT to improve the digital capabilities of students in the context of existing lessons. Many examples of ICT usage in the class include: finding images, using a tablet application for practical experiments, searches by means of Internet browsers, word processing, finding online data and applying it to your classroom subject. The answers students may be considered "right" "almost right" or "wrong" to replicate the complexities of a real-life classroom. The team wanted to avoid a correct and incorrect binary so that teachers could prepare to fill in the blanks of the evolving comprehension of new subjects among students.
The willingness of teachers to seek input is an integral aspect of this VR experience. The metrics used for the quality of the lessons are teaching tools, the ICT usage and the arrangement of tasks that suit the lessons best. Consideration is given to classroom management, interaction length, the precise setting of time frames, tone of speech, eye contact, the correct response to student questions and time required to contact students with questions.
Whilst these steps exist, the primary aim of the setting is to allow teachers to come out of their VR school with additional ideas for exercises, lessons and ways to assess student comprehension to further a diversified medium and methods of education in their true classroom.