Preservice Teachers' encounter with Social VR – Exploring Virtual Teaching and Learning Processes in Initial Teacher Education
Abstract: With 21st century challenges ahead, higher education teaching and learning need new pedagogical concepts. Features of technologies like social VR enable student-centered, action-oriented, and situated learning. This paper presents findings of the pedagogical implementation of a distributed social VR prototype, a fully immersive VR learning environment, into an Initial Teacher Education programme in Germany. The exploratory study addressed the following research questions 1) How do preservice teachers perceive teaching and learning activities in fully immersive VR? 2) How should teaching and learning processes using social VR in Teacher Education be designed? Following a design-based research approach, the pedagogical concept for teaching and learning in social VR was based on principles of action-orientation. A convenience sample of three groups of five students each took part in a 90-minute teaching and learning scenario using a fully immersive VR learning environment. In between the seminar units, students engaged in qualitative group interviews, sharing their perception of the action-oriented teaching and learning activities in VR. The results showed that preservice teachers had the feeling of being less distracted in social VR. Additionally, during group activities, missing social and behavioral cues made communication procedures more challenging for participants. However, some participants noticed a stronger sense of community while collaborating with others.