Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education Higher Education Tech Innovation

The Innovation: simSchool

An instructor’s first time in front of a classroom can be a nerve-wracking experience. The person may be uncertain about what to do and how to act, having little or no prior teaching, classroom management, and student interaction experiences.

simSchool’s game-like simulation prepares undergraduate teacher education students for the classroom.

Players explore instructional strategies, examine classroom management techniques, and practice building relationships with students. Upon launch of a simSchool session, a classroom setting appears with students sitting in rows of individual desks. The user can choose students from the library of sims or create their own students. The player assumes the teacher role: talking to the students, selecting their tasks, and observing their reactions. simSchool documents the session and provides a detailed, moment-by-moment analysis of the user’s decisions and their impacts.

sim Session Choice Evaluation

Results Achieved: The simSchool project results can be measured in three ways:

  • Scale: The project exceeded its scaling goals. According to project evaluator SRI International, AACE reached 7,508 students on 116 campuses, against goals of 4,000 students and 7 campuses.
  • Content: simSchool’s OER structure and open library encouraged users to contribute over 1,000 pieces of created content, including unique simulated students, new tasks, and new modules. Contribution rates outpaced expectations.
  • User outcomes: simSchool users showed significant gains in the following outcomes:
  • Confidence (teaching self-efficacy)
  • Skills (such as understanding student characteristics and creating and sequencing tasks)
  • Attitudes about teaching (for ex, that the locus of control for learning is in the hands of the teacher, not the background or characteristics of the student)

Long term Goal: To help the next generation of teachers develop the teaching skills, confidence, and attitudes needed to complete a certification program and stay in the profession beyond three years after graduation.

How to run a simSchool Sim
How to Run a simSchool Sim
Understanding simReports & simStudent Behavior
Understanding simReports & simStudent Behavior

The Grant Project:

The Association of the Advancement of Computing in Education received an NGLC grant in April 2011.

NGLC funding enabled AACE to expand available simSchool content with an OER module structure and an open library, to promote simSchool adoption in undergraduate teacher education programs, and to build a sustainable ecosystem of business and higher education institutions that promote deeper learning in the field of teaching.

Today, simSchool is a global resource, used in 118 institutions in 154 countries around the world.

Project Partners:

  • Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education
  • Pragmatic Solutions
  • Curveshift
  • University of North Texas
  • FableVision