Exploring teacher professional learning in a virtual environment

The focus of this innovative project is on the design, development and trialing of a proof-of-concept virtual environment as a model for professional learning for teachers of mathematics. This project will establish a virtual classroom where participants can observe and explore teacher and student thinking. The virtual classroom will provide currently unavailable opportunities to immerse participants in a range of classroom situations, informed by research.

Participants can:

  • view an individual student’s work
  • ‘hear’ the thinking of a particular student (provides insight into student understanding)
  • listen to a justification from the teacher for their choices
  • complete tasks to demonstrate understanding of student thinking
  • ask an ‘expert’.

The proof-of-concept project targets one mathematics topic (understanding decimal numbers) for in-service teachers; however the technology has the capacity to support many topics across a wide range of subject areas into the future.

Research questions

  • Does a virtual environment enable teachers to explore the pedagogical issues involved in teaching a particular mathematics topic?
  • What aspects of the virtual environment appeal to teachers the most, from a professional learning point of view, and why?