1 Complutense University of Madrid (SPAIN)
2 Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 8701-8710
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.2148
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
According to the reports of training practices from future secondary-school teachers, there are significant shortcomings in the communication skills required to properly manage a class. Despite the existence of modules related to communication in the educational masters of teaching staff, there is no real learning in this area, and students (the future teachers) express their fear when it comes to dealing with a class.

Currently, virtual reality is present in different fields, such as medicine, engineering, humanities, etc. Its characteristics (in particular the one concerning the creation of a safe environment, its ubiquity, and its high immersion capacity) turn it into an ideal technology for training communication skills. In parallel, in the last ten years, videogames have proven their effectiveness as learning tools, alone or combined with other pedagogical strategies.

For these reasons, we consider the following hypothesis: Virtual reality in combination with videogames is, on the one hand, an effective environment for simulating realistic situations related to secondary education, and, on the other, an ideal environment to practice and learn communication skills for the classroom.

Taking this into account, we have created a virtual environment that serves as a training tool for future secondary-school teachers, to improve their communication skills and get used to a real class. It simulates a secondary-school class with students and works as a videogame. The virtual students work by simulating real students' behaviors in the classroom.

Future teachers start the game in front of the class as in most secondary schools. The tool sets the game background, offering the complete context, actions, or previous behaviors (i.e., two students have been fighting all over the previous week). After, the user has to react as in a real situation, managing complicated situations. Our videogame analyses in real-time the user's behavior (voice tone, the distance between the user and the problematic student or students and detection of assertive or negative vocabulary) and reacts through the students themselves, i.e., offering realistic behavior to the user's actions.

We are optimistic about the possibilities of our tool on the teachers' training since it avoids the expensive and logistical complicated real environments practices. The experts consulted agree on the added value that this tool can offer to practices in real schools. The video game offers the perfect environment to learn and understand how to manage stressful situations through effective communication before facing real students.
Virtual reality, Videogame, secondary-school, teachers.