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grant helps sponsor virtual classroom

May 11, 2018

Dakota State University has received a $3,500 South Dakota Fund grant award from the South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF).

DSU’s College of Education will use the funds to support the Virtual Avatar Learning Experience (VALE). VALE is an authentic, powerful simulation that allows students to practice in front of a group of simulated students, allowing them to face the challenges of the real-world classroom.

“This technology provides DSU education students the opportunity to practice classroom management and student engagement skills in a mixed reality virtual classroom,” said Dan Klumper, instructor of social sciences.

Dr. Crystal Pauli, dean of the College of Education, said “This experience ensures they are better prepared for working with actual children and gives them confidence as they deal with instructional and behavioral challenges." More confident and well-prepared pre-service teachers result in a better learning experience for the K-12 students, she added.

DSU teachers in training first used the tool in Fall 2017, teaching in the VALE classroom twice a semester.  “With this generous award from the South Dakota Community Foundation, our students will be able to utilize this powerful learning tool more with a significant increase in opportunities to practice teach. The impact of this grant will be felt throughout the DSU College of Ed,” Klumper stated.

Ginger Niemann, SDCF program officer, said, “Virtual reality experiences will be invaluable for our future educators. We are excited to see how these virtual simulations can better prepare our state’s students for the classrooms of the future.”

Since 1987, the South Dakota Community Foundation has helped people reach their philanthropic goals and strengthened communities across the state. The South Dakota Fund is an unrestricted fund that makes grants in support of culture, economic development, education, health and human services. In 2017, the SDCF distributed more than $13.5 million in grants from all funds administered.