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Redefining Field Experiences: Virtual Environments in Teacher Education
Abstract:The explosion of interest in online gaming and virtual worlds is leading many universities to investigate possible educational applications of the new environments. In this paper we explore the possibilities of 3D online worlds for teacher education, particularly the field experience component. Drawing upon two pedagogical examples, we suggest that virtual simulations may, with certain limitations, create safe spaces that allow preservice teachers to adopt alternate identities and interact safely with the “other." In so doing they may become aware of the constructed nature of social categories and gain the essential pedagogical skill of perspective-taking. We suggest that, ultimately, the ability to be the principal creators of themselves in virtual environments can increase their ability to do the same in the real world.
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