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Effective learning from role play

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The Cloudworks Team
17 April 2008

To get learners to engage and learn from role play, give them clear roles and a clear goal, with activities which will reveal their different perspectives.


Role-play can be ineffective if learners do not understand or do not engage with the situation. How does one design role-playing in which learners will internalise concepts and situational dynamics? The role-play in the Learning@Europe project was based on a historical episode learners had already studied, thus enabling them to start from background knowledge. They were given a clear task: as members of a town council, to make a decision on whether or not to surrender the town to an invading army which had taken hostage several of their children. The activity was structured to produce deliverable output: working in teams, learners conducted their own research and evaluated the different possibilities, finishing by writing a joint account of the decision process. Finally, the town council was enacted in a 3D online virtual environment, with each group fielding two learners to play one of the opposing parties. See pp. 8-10, ‘Role-playing as a learning opportunity’. [Franca Garzotto, Caterina Poggi]

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