This study investigates the potential of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and digital twins to overcome geo-graphical, scheduling, and diversity barriers in the training of secondary educational administrators. Recognizing the limitations in traditional in-person visits to schools-particularly for graduate students in rural areas and those working fulltime with dependents-and the current ethnic composition of educational administrators, where White individuals comprise 64.5% of the population in the US (71.01% for principals), this research explores how VLEs can democratize access and foster diversity in educational leadership training. Over the academic year 2022–2023, pre- and post-engagement surveys were administered to students in a Visionary and Innovative Leadership course that employed a digital twin of a middle school. The virtual environment allowed students to explore the school and interact with its mission and vision principles at their own pace, from any location, and as frequently as required. These digital tools not only offered a homogenous and repeatable experience but also enabled a deeper, self-directed investigation into how an institution’s mission and vision are operationalized within its physical environment. Findings from the study indicate that VLEs and digital twins offer considerable potential in terms of accessibility, flexibility, and diversity in educational leadership training. Through the integration of these innovative technologies, future leaders can experience immersive, interactive, and inclusive learning environments, contributing to a more diverse and effective educational leadership landscape.
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Hutson, James; Steffes, Robert; and Weber, Joe, "Virtual learning environments and digital twins: Enhancing accessibility, diversity, and flexibility in training secondary educational administrators" (2023). Faculty Scholarship. 501.