The Journal News: Teachers-in-training go Digital at Pace

Pace is one of 10 universities in the country that are putting its students in front of digital classes connected to the “Teach Live” laboratory at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Gary Stern from The Journal News visited Pace teacher education classes to learn about and report on a new teaching tool – avatars in a new program, TeachLivE.

From the article in The Journal News:

Until recently, teachers-in-training at Pace University in Pleasantville did not get to step in front of a class until their senior year. They learned the theories behind curriculum and instruction without having to face the unpredictable and sometimes unruly element of classroom life: students.

But recently, 19-year-old sophomore Charles Link got up in front of a small class of jumpy and easily distracted seventh-graders to teach a basic lesson on the states of matter. When he explained how boiling water turns to steam or gas, the class giggled.

“When you said gas, I was just doing a demonstration,” one student, Marcus, said. More chuckles.

Link ignored the remark — as so many middle-school teachers have before him — and went on with his lesson. It was a taste of the real world for him, even though his students were not of flesh and blood.

They were avatars.

Pace is one of 10 universities in the country that are putting its students in front of digital classes connected to the “Teach Live” laboratory at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Education majors at Pace teach to five digital avatars who appear on an interactive board and are controlled and voiced by actors in Orlando wearing “motion capture” suits, not unlike those used to create digital movie characters. The avatars — Marcus, Maria, Vince, Francis and never-stop-talking Monique — have distinct personalities that are supposed to represent real adolescent behaviors.

Read the rest of the article at

Tribeca Trib: Pace University Students Learn Teaching Skills from Digital Pupils

Pace University’s School of Education is one of 10 campuses around the country using a program called TeachLivE in the classroom to train teachers. The Tribeca Trib ran a feature story on it with photos.

The Tribeca Trib featured Pace School of Education’s TeachLivE Lab.

From the Tribeca Trib:

The first time Aldajana Ado­vac stood in front of her tutoring class of five sixth-grade students, she knew right away she’d have trouble.

There was Marcus, the smart aleck in the back row, Monique, a chatty know-it-all in front who could hog class time with her ramblings, and Francis, a willing au­d­ience for every one of Marcus’ quips. Then there was Maria, in the corner, who was smart but too shy to speak.

“Man, this is B.S.,” Marcus sighed, slumping over his desk as Adovac suggested he reread a passage from the lesson. “I already said my words.”

With the five of them, keeping this class on track wouldn’t be easy, but Ad­ovac, a Pace University graduate education student who teaches in a girls’ middle school, had an out: her students were digital—avatars animated by an ac­tor in a sound studio in Florida who can see and hear the teacher. If she lost control of the class, or wanted to test an approach with a student, she could simply take off her headphones and try again another time. Meanwhile, her classmates watched from around the real classroom, taking notes.

After “teaching” her short lesson, Adovac said she realized that she had given too much attention to the trouble-making Marcus. “The next time I get into a situation with a student who is combative or disruptive, I won’t be so quick to answer everything they say,” she said.

Avatars are not just for Hollywood anymore. Pace University’s School of Education is one of 10 campuses around the country using a program called TeachLivE in the classroom to train teachers. Developed by the education and computer science departments at the University of Central Florida, the program’s goal is to allow new teachers to practice on “students” without leaving the building on Spruce Street.

“It’s wonderful if you want to try out a strategy or a lesson,” said Sha­ron Me­dow, a veteran professor in Pace’s School of Education. “We can teach about a theory, then actually practice it.”

Find the rest of the story at The Tribeca Trib.

NEWS RELEASE: Pace University education students to practice on virtual students

Pace education school launches ‘TLE TeachLivE™ Lab’ technology in partnership with University of Central Florida. Pace is the only university in the northeast using this technology.

Education school launches ‘TLE TeachLivE™ Lab’ technology in partnership with University of Central Florida, is only university in the northeast using the technology

Opening ceremonies with demonstrations January 18 and 19


NEW YORK, NY, January 13, 2012 – This spring semester student teacher candidates at Pace University will have to face those inevitable unruly students who do things like jump out of their seats and make rude gestures.

But the students will be virtual avatars shown on a digital SMART board.

Next week student demonstrations of this new simulation technology, part WII, part Steven Spielberg-esque  modern movie making, and based on research profiles of typical and sometimes challenging students, will take place in downtown New York City and in Pleasantville, in Westchester County, as Pace’s school of education inaugurates its pioneering use of the system.

The New York City demonstration (including explanations by faculty members, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and a reception) will be held Wednesday, January 18 at One Pace Plaza, across from City Hall, room W210, from 4:30-6:00 p.m.

The Pleasantville demonstration will be Thursday, January 19 at 861 Bedford Road, entrance #2, Miller Hall, room 15A, from 4:00-5:30pm. Media admission by press pass.

The technology is known as the TLE TeachLivE™ Labs. (The TLE stands for the initials of “Teach” and “Live” with an emphasized “E” for education). Pace is the only school in the northeast and one of only ten universities in the US to use this technology, which can help with teacher preparation, professional development of in-service educators,  and research on teacher effectiveness.

Developed some four years ago at the University of  Central Florida, which is partnering with Pace, the TeachLivE™ system presents a class of digital “avatar” five students, whose personality types and detailed back stories were developed by UCF researchers based on research. Like the Wizard of Oz, behind the scenes UCF staffers work as “interactors,” seeing and hearing the student teachers by web cam and acting out the personality types in real time, including their jumps and gestures. Computer sensors attached to the actors transmit their movements to the avatars.

“This experience gave me confidence”

Pilot testing this summer showed that before they teach in a real classroom, Pace teacher candidates giving lessons on, for example, persuasive writing and science developed an understanding of the complexities of adult/child relations and could practice communicating effectively and managing classrooms.

Said one student, “I was very nervous to teach. I always have questions about my abilities. ‘What if I don’t know the answer” or “what if I am a bad teacher?” This experience gave me confidence.”

Some students in the test groups observed and recorded avatar behavior. Some practiced with the avatars on a simulated first day of school, trying to create classroom community, communicate expectations, and get students excited about learning. All refined instructional approaches and classroom management plans. The system was used as part of coursework in special education, science education, and educational psychology.

During the spring semester, ten Pace classes with a total of over 300 students are scheduled to use TeachLivE. The Pace School of Education has an avatar lab on both its New York City and Pleasantville campuses.

TLE TeachLivE™ Labs won the 2012 Innovative Technology Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

Some Pace professors have used TeachLivE on a one-on-one basis where the teacher observes the student and offers feedback. Others have used it on a peer-to-peer basis where students present during class and students give each other feedback in addition to the teacher feedback. Using TLE TeachLivE™, Pace has found, encourages rehearsal and experimentation.

Pace and the other nine universities partnering with UCF are beta sites that have assisted with further development of the system, expansion of the scenarios and creation of a long term research agenda.

For more information on The TLE TeachLivE™ Labs and to see them in action, visit:

About Pace University

For 105 years Pace has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.


Cara Cea, 914-906-9680,