UW College of Education launches Virtual WYTeach Competition for high school students

A UW agricultural education student uses Mursion virtual reality software to gain experience leading a class of avatars. The platform will be used for the WYTeach competition for high school students interested in becoming teachers. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming College of Education and UW Trustees Education Initiative are collaborating with Mursion, a company that develops virtual reality training simulations, to present the inaugural WYTeach competition for high school students interested in becoming teachers. 

The top three participants will be awarded scholarships to UW or Wyoming community colleges. Students interested in participating should register and submit a lesson plan by Friday, March 12. To register and for more information, go to www.uwyo.edu/wyteach.

In Wyoming and across the nation, schools are experiencing a shortage of teachers. The WYTeach contest was developed as a method to get high school students interested in teaching careers to combat this shortage. The hope is that the exposure will give students the opportunity to practice their professional skills and put their teaching abilities to the test by leading a class of students inside a virtual reality simulation.

The contest will take place entirely online, allowing students in the state to participate via live video streamed directly into their home classrooms. The Mursion system recreates the classroom environment and replicates a real-world teaching experience as closely as possible, making the virtual competition possible.

The virtual reality student avatars and teachers can see and hear one another, letting them react and speak in real time. The students also can display behaviors, such as pulling out a cellphone, for the teacher to notice and correct.

UW College of Education faculty members will select the top 12 submitted lesson plans and invite the students to the second round of the competition, which is the WYTeach trials Thursday, April 1. During this phase, the high school students will use Mursion for the first time. Students will be scored based on their interactions with the student avatars during a short game.

The top six participants will then make it to the WYTeach finals Friday, April 2, to present the lesson plans they developed for the virtual students. A team that is trained to observe and coach pre-service teachers will judge the finalists.



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