5 Ways to use Role-Playing in eLearning
Instructional Design

5 Ways to use Role-Playing in eLearning

Role-playing is one of the most powerful teaching strategies. It uncovers the complex personalities of your learners, while they engage with each other and the eLearning program within their roles.

But we cannot use role-playing in just any eLearning course.

What situations allow us to use role-playing in eLearning, then? And what are the varieties of role-playing strategies? Let’s find out in this article.

Trainers and instructors have long used role-playing to simulate a workplace scenario. Games used in classrooms also often utilize role-playing.

Generally, learners find enacting along storylines a very enjoyable learning experience. Roles encourage them to get into someone else’s shoes and make decisions based on their role (and parameters).

But what are the learning situations that warrant a role-play exercise?

  • Situations where trainers want to allow the learners to view events from a different perspective. For example, making a middle manager think like a customer support agent, or making an employee think like a customer.
  • Situations where you want learners to experience in an online environment events which are not possible in a live environment. For example, letting a man experience sexual harassment as a woman.
  • Demonstrate the various stages of a project, from inception to launch.
  • Teach learners effective interpersonal skills.

Role-playing games and exercises come in many shapes and sizes!

The best type of role-playing in eLearning are the games that create a sense of drama and conflict. Learners may feel stuck, but they’re still motivated to solve the dilemma.

Here are five good examples of role-playing in eLearning:

1. Behavior Criticism: In this type of role-play exercise, you can teach learners the desirable behavior in a particular situation. The eLearning program would model bad behavior, so that learners are able to highlight the mistakes. One learner can enact bad behavior, while their peers react to it.

2. Who am I? Based on a popular game, learners are required to select a popular person in their field and prepare a speech by pretending to be them. They post their speeches on the discussion forum. Peers will comment on each other’s speeches and try to guess the personality.

Learners are able to understand and relate in a deeper way to the content and its context this way.

3. Murder Mystery: You can teach investigative and fact-finding skills by playing a murder-solving role playing game. A scenario with characters is described in detail, and learners are required to study it. Each learner gets a role. They are required to solve the mystery with the aid of information they have on their character.

Other variations of investigative-style role playing includes:
a. Hunt for the treasure
b. Learn the cause of an accident or crash
c. Discovering the cure or antidote for a disease
d. Locating a missing individual

4. Court Trial: This one is quite fun to do! Put a learner, a personality, a historical figure or an organization on trial. Assign roles to your learners like judge, accused, jury and victim etc.

5. Board Meeting: This strategy is popular in training within organizations. Conduct a mock board meeting between CEOs, presidents and other important stakeholders. Each character is described in detail. Their relationships with each other are also defined. An agenda and a time limit is provided. Everyone talks according to their role.

Role-playing in eLearning is quickly catching up in the form of character studies and scenario-based eLearning programs.

Knowing about these strategies will make planning for such programs much easier.

Have you developed a role-play exercise for your eLearners? Please let us know in the comments below!

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