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UW College of Education Launches Competition to Spark Interest in Teaching

September 7, 2021
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The University of Wyoming College of Education and UW Trustees Education Initiative (TEI) have partnered with Mursion, a company that develops virtual reality training simulations, to present the inaugural College WYTeach competition.

UW and Wyoming community college students who are freshmen or sophomores and interested in becoming teachers can participate in the contest. The top three participants will be awarded scholarship money to UW or a Wyoming community college.

In Wyoming and across the nation, schools are experiencing a shortage of teachers. The WYTeach competition was developed to get students interested in teaching careers and provide a stream of highly qualified teachers into classrooms. This exposure will provide 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 initial stages of the contest will take place entirely online, allowing any student with freshman or sophomore standing enrolled at UW or a Wyoming community college to participate via live video streamed directly to his or her home or campus. The competition finals can be completed in person on UW’s campus, or participants can stream in virtually if they are unable to travel.

The Mursion system recreates the classroom environment and replicates a real-world teaching experience as closely as possible, making the virtual competition possible. The student avatars and participant teacher can see and hear one another, letting them interact and speak in real time. The students also can display behaviors, such as pulling out a cellphone, for the teacher to notice and correct.

Contest judges will select the top 12 lesson plans submitted and invite the students to the second round of the competition, the WYTeach Trials, Oct. 6. During this phase, the participants will use Mursion for the first time, and they will be scored based on their interactions with the student avatars during a short game. The top six participants will make it to the WYTeach Finals Oct. 15 to present the lesson plans they developed using the Mursion system. The finalists will be judged by a team that is trained to observe and coach pre-service teachers.

Students who are interested in participating should register and submit a lesson plan by Sept. 25. For more information, go to www.uwyo.edu/wyteach.

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