Exploratory Teaching Space (ETS)


The VR Classroom as Exploratory Teaching Space (ETS)

Status: completed, last edit summer 2021
Duration: October 2019 to summer 2021 (extended duration)

Idea and Goal

The idea and goal of this ETS project "VR in der Lehramtsausbildung oder der Flugsimulator für Lehrkräfte (ETS403)" was to integrate and test a training in virtual reality in teacher education. Student teachers can gain their first experience of what it is like to stand in front of a class in virtual classrooms and test in a protected space what options they have as teachers to deal with disruptions. The use of classroom simulations is intended to provide a sustainable improvement in teacher education by allowing students to practice the action-oriented skill acquisition on classroom management in active sessions. The use of VR allows students to interact with virtual students in predictable and repeatable settings. The "hands-on" experiences gathered in the virtual classroom will be incorporated and reflected in the pedagogical seminar.

Course of the project

The project to integrate a digital classroom into teacher training by means of virtual reality has started successfully. Cooperation with the University of Potsdam has been established. During several preliminary studies we developed and prioritized a criteria catalog and a feature list. The highest prioritization is given to all items that are needed for a successful implementation of the teaching unit in the educational sciences or that allow a great improvement in usability.

An investigation or use with student teachers in a seminar had to be postponed until after the Corona pandemic. During this time, further development was made on the application and the didactic embedding despite the limited practical application possibilities. The evaluation with students is scheduled for the first possible date of use, the premises have already been prepared and the technical equipment tested.


The VR classroom is ready for use and is only waiting to return to face-to-face teaching as soon as this is safely possible again. The prototype used and enhanced in this project was designed and developed by the chair "Complex Multimedia Application Architectures" of the University of Potsdam. During the further development, a cooperation with Potsdam was established, which will continue beyond the project duration of the ETS funding.

The funding has already enabled many features to be integrated for use at RWTH, including scalable classrooms, a greatly expanded and improved user interface for controlling virtual students, and numerous detail improvements. In addition to its planned use in teacher training, the VR classroom has also been integrated into our chairs teaching as part of students projects, lab-courses and is the focus of various bachelor's and master's theses; in addition, it will be further developed in a practical course in WS20/21. Here, the focus is especially on the systematic follow-up possibility by incorporating semantic data collection for integration into learning analytics processes.

In addition, the project team took up the challenge of the hackathon "Semesterhack - We hack the digital summer semester" and sought public discourse as part of this initiative, especially on the social implications. The results were processed and have been incorporated into further development. Further information can be found at https://semesterhack.incom.org/project/186

Project team:

Technology, Content Development, Research, Continuation
Deborah Hennig: Content development, continuation
Matthias Ehlenz: application, consulting
Ilona Cwielong: application, content development, consulting
Sven Kommer: application, consulting
Ulrik Schroeder: application, consulting

Further information

The VR Classroom is operated and further developed in a cooperation between the Learning Technologies Research Group and EZW, as well as the University of Potsdam. Interested parties are welcome to contact heinemann@cs.rwth-aachen.de.