From Siri to robots, artificial intelligence seems to be growing by the minute.
Now students at the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University are using A.I. to practice teaching skills at their Mursion Lab.
Through the Mursion Lab program, university students can play the role of a teacher to a group of artificially intelligent students.
They respond like typical middle schoolers, some listen while some students push back. They can see and hear the practice teacher through the audio-video connection and come up with their own responses.
Their authentic reactions are giving education students a chance to learn teaching skills in a different way than in the past.
A person from the Mursion Lab program helps run the simulation remotely. All the participants have to do is ask for a specific classroom scenario. The Mursion Lab person selects the simulation, and then the artificial intelligence takes over the rest.
This program covers different topics from classroom management to counseling at easy or hard levels.
Lauren Obeng is an education graduate student at Old Dominion University.
"It's already giving me an idea of what I need to work on in the classroom with them. So, I can prevent certain misbehaviors from happening," said Obeng.
The Director of Innovative Technology at ODU’s College of Education and Professional Studies, Michael Ruffin, said the realistic simulations challenge the students.
"We've had students crying, we've had students say I want to quit, I want to leave teaching,” said Ruffin. "I tell people we don't want them going into the school system and making certain mistakes on real kids."
By facing difficult scenarios now, professors said they see the college students develop the skills they need to become successful teachers.
"It especially is helpful for those who have never even really interacted with students or taught,” said Assistant Professor of Science Education, Kristie Gutierrez.
The next step for the university is creating its own content within the Mursion program.
In the future, students who have autism can use the simulator to practice job-interviewing skills, with the support of the college's counseling department.
"It's a game changer,” said Ruffin.
"We just see an endless amount of opportunities with this,” said Dean of Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, Jane Bray.