EC 416: Designing an Individualized Education Program Meeting in a Virtual Reality Setting

Individualized Education Programs (IEP) serve as roadmaps for specialized instruction and educational support for students with learning challenges. Written IEP documents are developed at IEP meetings: closed sessions attended by the student (upon request), their parent(s) or guardian(s), general and special education teachers, related service providers and school administrators. Although pre-service special education teachers receive training and preparation in the development and implementation of IEPs, new teachers often lack exposure and experience to closed IEP meetings. General education teachers tend to have even less exposure to the IEP process despite the high-stakes nature of IEP meetings, which carry confidentiality agreements and legal ramifications. Jamie Pearson, Assistant Professor of Special Education in the College of Education, saw a need to better prepare all pre-service teachers for IEP meetings before they enter the field. With an Exploratory DELTA Grant awarded in 2019, Pearson and the DELTA team created an IEP meeting in virtual reality (VR) to help prepare future and current educators.

Instructional Challenges

  • IEP meetings are typically closed to guests or observers due to their confidential nature.
  • New teachers often lack exposure and experience with closed IEP meetings.
  • There was not an adequate way to prepare pre-service teachers for real IEP meetings in the field.
  • IEP meetings often lack a sense of empathy, choosing to focus on the formalities of the process rather than how the family and school can work together to meet the needs of the student.
  • Starting the project from scratch required writing a script and hiring actors.


  • A 360° VR experience of a 20-minute model IEP meeting was created.
  • The project was driven by a team of professional actors and a true-to-life script.
  • Along with accurate terminology and natural speaking patterns, nonverbal cues were built into the script to best simulate the nuances of a real-world IEP meeting.
  • A browser-based 360° video recording of the virtual IEP was produced.
  • PlayPosit was integrated to boost student engagement and understanding.
  • In-service teachers have the ability to access professional development regarding IEP implementation.

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