Thursday Dec 11 Challenge: Role Play

Read the article: Can World of Warcraft Save Higher Education? The latest trend seems like something you might have done in middle school. Choose a perspective: gamer/student, game innovator/instructor , novice or veteran instructor, taxpayer, or parent and respond to the article while staying in character. What do you think about these techniques used in the classroom? Could these techniques be used in any classroom? Any subject matter? Are these techniques a boondoggle? Can you see application to your own course?

10 Bonus Points: Respond to other players remaining in your voice and perspective that you chose in your initial post.

7 Responses to Thursday Dec 11 Challenge: Role Play

  1. Robin Gilcrist says:

    As a serious student I found the article to be somewhat offensive. Gretman asserts in his articles that …”students decide to find some new and innovative way to be bored? Maybe I’m just cynical, but I suspect that some students will always find sex, drugs, and alcohol a more compelling imperative than games where they pretend to be Puritans—unless they are allowed to take a shot every time someone is accused of antinomianism.” I acknowledge that he states “some students” in this assertion but I still feel like this is a major discredit to most of the students I am taking classes with.

    The idea that there is a huge chasm between professors and students is also something I call into question. At UAS, at least, the professors are approachable, helpful and encouraging. I don’t see the chasm which he describes.

    All of that being said I did like the idea of role playing as a vehicle for deeper understanding of learning materials. I can see how this could be a fun way to test your knowledge. If a student was assigned to be a client who commissioned a house design the perspective would be very different than the student who’s role it was to be the building inspector, architect or builder.

  2. Charla Brown says:

    Woah dude. This article is hyper-critical and tries to be more philosophical than necessary. I think with a creative instructor, this could be used in almost any subject and it doesn’t have to be tied to any one point in history (i.e. cast individuals to be protons, electrons and neutrons to create an element from the periodic table!). In fact, I took a class where we role-played “Defining a Nation: India on the Eve of Independence, 1945” at Barnard College in April 2012 and it is something I will never forget. Here is a great video capturing that experience and my main takeaway is quoted at 4:11-4:15:

    I have used reacting to the past before when I have taught organizational development to BBA and MBA students. I use a case study that was developed by Harvard Business School to examine the 16-day mission that led to the Columbia disaster. Students are provided with password access to emails, information, and documented interactions as part of the case materials on a DVD for a certain character which they must review and study in advance. We then review come together in the classroom to re-enact the final doomed meeting where the decision was made to allow re-entry into the atmosphere. The discussion begins with class members staying in character and acting out the way things happened in reality; this is followed by detailed examination in the light of our organizational behavior concepts (leadership, power, teams, decision making, stress, motivation, organizational culture). Following that, the students act out a second scenario follows where they have the opportunity to do the right thing with all of the information that they have available to them. I use videos of the shuttle breaking up and it never fails to be an incredibly emotional experience for everyone involved. Here is a summary of the case which was updated in May 2010:

    • Val Barber says:

      That is a great video. Very inspiring. It would be interesting to see how if could play out in chemistry. I think it would be hard to do this online. I’ll think about it a bit more.

  3. Robin Gilcrist says:

    reply to SELF:
    Wow, the video of your class experience at Barnard was excellent. Not only was it a graphically interesting presentation it was also very compelling as a promotion for role playing as a form of learning.

    The way you describe using role playing in your organizational development course surely had a great impact on the students.

    Great examples. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Val Barber says:

    From an instructor viewpoint I found the statement “This isn’t to say that we should abandon all hope of overcoming the mutual incomprehension and contempt that so often defines the student-professor relationship. “, puzzling. It’s rare when I have seen the “mutual incomprehension and contempt in student-professor relationships” . I too worry about the generation growing up now with all the smartphones and video games and communicating over devices and not face to face. I think the ‘reacting to the past’ has it’s place in the classroom and from the video that Charla posted, it appears to engage the students and equalize them more. You often have a range of participation with the outspoken students who always answer to the quiet ones who try to hide. Role playing get’s them outside of themselves and for awhile they are someone else, someone important. I think it does pull the students together as well and they actually meet the other students in their class which is so often not the case. It does combat isolation. If you are just going to a lecture and listening and not engaging, it’s easy to stop listening and go off somewhere else. But if you are engaged and need to talk in front of the class and argue effectively, then you are going to have to know the information and background. I think there is a place for this in academics. It’s not pandering to the masses. I know kids these days get overstimulated with video games and movies and professors feel that they have to become entertainers in order to be effective. I think we should do what makes sense and what works and if the old methods don’t work, then on to the new. I don’t agree with all Greteman writes, but his ending is right on.

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