LARAMIE — 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 second annual WYTeach competition for high school students.
The competition allows high school students interested in becoming teachers to put their teaching abilities to the test. The top three participants each will be awarded a scholarship to UW or a Wyoming community college.
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.
College of Education faculty members will select the top 12 lesson plans submitted and invite the students to the second round of the competition, which is the WYTeach Trials, Feb. 16-17.
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 be invited to the WYTeach Finals Feb. 23-24, when they will present the lesson plans they developed to the virtual reality students. The finalists will be judged by a team of faculty from the UW College of Education and community colleges.
Students interested in participating should register and submit a lesson plan by Friday, Feb. 4.
To learn more about the competition, go to www.uwyo.edu/wyteach.