For several years, Saint Leo University has utilized a cutting-edge simulation technology which originally was only part of its education degree programs. However, it has since found a footing in courses across a number of other degree programs offered by the university as well.
Known as Simulated Experiences at Saint Leo, this simulation technology was developed and is maintained by the software company Mursion. It allows students to interact with virtual avatars who are actually voiced by live simulation specialists. This simulation technology provides real-world, real-time experiences in a simulated environment, helping students learn communication skills across a wide array of field-specific scenarios.
Several Saint Leo faculty members have provided positive feedback on this simulation technology. In addition, according to Greg Kunzweiler, assistant director of Saint Leo's Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the requests for simulations continue to increase as more faculty members become aware of the technology and recognize its numerous benefits to their students.
Below is a roundup of feedback from Saint Leo faculty on this technology:
"The simulation specialist has exceeded my expectation for the sessions and has really provided the students with interactive discussions and experiences that support their learning. The students' feedback on the sessions has been predominately positive…we have been using the Mursion scenarios for a while. For the first time, I had a student ask 'Can we do that again this semester so we can see how much our lessons improve?' I felt that was a moment when the student recognized how this platform could enhance their teaching and learning."
– Dr. Tammy Quick, assistant professor of educational studies and early childhood development and education specialization program administrator at the Ocala Education Center
"Our students were thoroughly engaged while working with the avatars. They were able to interact, learn from each other, receive feedback, and ask questions. As a professor, I enjoyed watching them utilize the interpersonal and communication skills that are taught as part of our curriculum."
– Dr. Michelle Boone-Thornton, associate chair of Saint Leo's BA in human services degree program and an assistant professor of human services
"I loved it! It's wonderful! I think this is going to be great for the students. This is much better than anything I could produce in the classroom because when the students have to role-play and be the partners, a lot of times they're hesitant…but this was a wonderful way for them to seek that engagement."
– Dr. Katrina Maxwell, associate professor of human services
"We've received so much positive feedback. We recently did a training at a local charter school with some of the teachers there. Some of the first-year teachers said they wished they had had access to this technology in their degree programs because of how practical it truly is. We've had numerous alumni tell us that having used this technology has made them so much more comfortable in the classroom in terms of handling any situation presented to them. We've also presented to the Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the responses from other colleges have been wonderful."
– Dr. Holly Atkins, chair of the undergraduate education degree program and an associate professor of education at Saint Leo University
"Once you use it more, you really like it. It's a little different, yes, but at least this way you can think 'Okay, I'm not in front of an administrator or a teacher. I'm with my classmates and it's totally fine.'"
– Prof. Elisabeth Ballew, instructor of education
"The students said they enjoyed the experience and saw the value of the experience in their growth as graduate students in the program. They also said more such experiences would be valuable."
– Dr. Keya Mukherjee, assistant professor of education
"It is very realistic. In fact, students [have] responded that they have teachers like [the avatar] in their school. It provides a risk-free environment and it also allows others to observe a practice that would be able to be observed in a real-life setting."
– Dr. Melinda Carver, associate professor of graduate studies in education
Get the Scoop on the Simulated Experiences at Saint Leo
Visit the Simulated Experiences at Saint Leo homepage to learn more about this exciting technology and to watch some videos demonstrating how it works. Check out this blog article to learn more about how this simulation technology is specifically being used in Saint Leo's education degree programs to prepare future teachers for success in the classroom.