Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019 #VWEDU: #DTA A Digital Teaching Assistant (DTA) in MUVE (virtual world): What would it do?

A Digital Teaching Assistant (DTA) 
in MUVE (virtual world): 
What would it do?
Updated 7/16/2019

A draft prospectus for the development of a Digital Teaching Assistant as part of a virtual world intended for teaching.   The draft gives a preliminary job description, notes some parts that are currently available, and suggests some parts that could merit development efforts now.   This article is explicitly licensed Public Domain (CC0).
The Empty Classroom

What would a DTA do in a virtual world?



What DTA support is already available?

Record keeping in general

Record of attendance and attention in class 

  • "List the three main points you put in your class notes."
  • The DTA records answers from each student.  The instructor can evaluate.

Record of attendance and participation in team meetings

  • "What action items of yours did you report on at this meeting?" 
  • "What action items did you undertake from this meeting?"
  • "Who were the three main contributors to this meeting, not including yourself?"
  • The DTA records answers from each student.  The instructor can evaluate.

Record of individual practice

  • By practice I mean actions expected to develop a skill, such as naming things in language learning.
  • A MUVE can offer practice as a game or as a quiz and can record the responses.
  • DTA can evaluate the responses and advise both the student and the instructor.
  • The DTA can aggregate data and use it for item analysis.


  • The capabilities mentioned above are not yet organized into an efficient package.
  • In the future, the existing systems might be connected to Moodle.

What is needed for further DTA development?

Identification of major types of DTA action

  • Direct Teacher aid: Helps teacher find relevant links and events,
  • Resource coach: Coaches students in finding resources.
  • Homework coach:  Manages activities for homework.
  • Just-In-Time (JIT) learning in virtual schools, maybe with DTA coaching
  • Learning skills coach:  Coaches on learning skills that fit student's learning style.
  • Group skills coach: Coaches students in effective functioning of project groups.
  • Project management coach: Coaches students through planning and executing a project.
  • Subject matter aid:  Supports access to subject content for the course
  • Learning levels aid: Uses language, content, and guidance suited to learning level.

Learning levels: different versions the DTA 

  • My initial guesses:
  • Post graduate
  • Junior-Senior (college )
  • Freshman-Sophomore (college )
  • Junior-Senior (high school)
  • Freshman-Sophomore (high school)

Content areas for first DTA developments in MUVEs

  • STEM areas: Because of educational focus. 
  • STEM areas:  DTA can evaluate facts, measurements and expressions
  • Math: DTA can evaluate almost all of the work.
  • Biology:  Visuals are important here.  
  • Chemistry:  Chemical reactions can be simulated (enlarged).  DTA can evaluate most chemical expressions.
  • Astronomy: Visuals are essential.  DTA can simulate atomic physics.
  • Physics:  DTA can simulate atomic physics.

No TA works without supervision

  • Not a human TA, certainly not a DTA .
  • The DTA should detect when it is not able to give the help needed, and report to the teacher.
  • The teacher can review DTA problem reports and intervene.
  • The DTA should allow live intervention by the teacher in active sessions.

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