Herrington, Oliver and Reeves (2003) assert that many researchers and teachers now accept that well designed multimedia environments provide an alternative to real-life settings without sacrificing the authentic context. Further, researchers report that recent educational software advances have demonstrated that it is feasible to create a motivational simulation that supports pre-service teachers by providing them with tools that allow them to view the effects of their decisions within a virtual classroom context (Aldrich, 2004) However, limited research has been reported on the use of authentic simulations in pre-service teacher education.
This paper describes the on-line simulation that we developed to support our first year pre-service teacher education program. We explain how we operationalized the nine design elements of authentic learning environments as reported by Herrington, Oliver and Reeves (2003) as a framework for the design of this software. In addition we describe the teaching and learning experiences incorporated within this virtual classroom and the responses to these experiences form the perspective of the initial users of the simulation.