MADISON, S.D. - In the College of Education at Dakota State University in Madison, the teachers are trying to incorporate more technology to enhance the learning experience for students. In the College of Education, many professors have teamed up to create a unique and beneficial experience. This is all part of something the university calls VALE, which stands for a Virtual Avatar Learning Experience.
Currently, DSU is the only school in South Dakota using a mixed-reality technology called TeachLivE. Students studying to become a teacher are able to teach a virtual classroom full of students. The virtual students have personalities of younger children to try to simulate a classroom environment. Instructors at DSU said this is a great alternative for students because it can be hard to schedule a time to teach students live in a real classroom. The technology for this program was created at the University of Central Florida.
Another concept called gamification is being used inside of the College of Education. Instructors said this is a way to motivate students throughout the semester. It does not count toward their grade, but there are incentives throughout the year that is part of a game. The hope is to teach this in the classroom, then the students can bring it to their own classroom.
The university also just introduced Dewey the robot, which can be accessed anywhere from a computer, phone or iPad, as long as the device has an internet browser. Once someone accesses the robot through a link that is provided to them, they can control where it goes. This allows students to be inside the classroom virtually, see the classroom and instructor, and ask questions through the robot if necessary. It's already been used by faculty to be a part of meetings virtually. The goal is to get more students using it next semester.