Role-Playing In The Virtual Classroom

Online learning is a powerful tool, especially for those teachers who know how to use it correctly. One vibrant part of the virtual classroom experience is role-playing, which is a technique that boosts student effectiveness, as well as engages their intellect and emotions. Moreover, the direct feedback received as a result of role-playing is extremely useful for both teachers and students.

Virtual Role-Playing

In general, learning involves connecting your knowledge with other points of view. It is about joining together different perspectives and, thus, widening and challenging your own educational limits.

Virtual role-playing gives learners the possibility to interact with each other, as well as to be in each other’s shoes, which is extremely important when a classroom is made up of people from varied multicultural backgrounds.

The activities connected with role-playing are tests for the learners. Moreover, those activities can boost the e-learning process.

Virtual role-playing is often implemented in specific industries -,usually in those that involve working and interacting with clients such as call centers, sales, customer service, team management, support, etc. These practices are really helpful for people who verbally interact with other people. In addition, similar types of interactions often take place within the structure of an online course.

Mastering the art of role-playing creates more opportunities for online teachers, as well as optimizes the learning process.

Role-Playing – Benefits

Gaining experience as a teacher is an essential part of teacher education. However, professional experiences are hard to find. Another important part of this experience is student-teacher pairing in which role-playing in the virtual classroom can be effective. Despite the physical distance between students and teachers, a capable teacher can overcome these limitations.

Developing role-playing activities follows the same logic as creating other learning activities.
The first step is know your audience. Identify the needs of your students. Furthermore, connect the activities to the subject you are teaching. When you put your online group in an unfamiliar situation it will unlock different reactions, so focus on those situations that will deepen the learning process.

Second, use specific real-life situations. Ideally, it should be connected with the current or desired occupation of your students. Create scenarios that will challenge the learners’ views and this should lead to a win-win situation for the entire group.

Two Major Approaches To Role-Playing

Basically, there are two ways to moderate the role-playing activities in your virtual classroom:

  1. Pre-define the correct answers
    This approach is suitable when you are working with students from scientific backgrounds. Stay focused on the skill that you are teaching and then develop the steps that will lead to the result. You should also define all of the possible correct answers and be prepared to explain why each answer is correct or not. In other words, do your homework and take the time to create clear evaluation criteria.
  2. Use open-ended questions
    This approach is better suited to the humanities. Here the importance is placed on the group as a whole. The process includes the teacher as a facilitator who simply provides direction and stimulates questions rather than acts as the authoritative source of information. This role-playing approach focuses on argumentation and reasoning rather than on a specific result.

Regardless of the approach that you choose to use, don’t forget to summarize at the end of each role-play, in addition to providing prompt feedback. Then, repeat the practice.

Teaching Techniques

Virtual role-playing activities allow students to directly test.their knowledge. Depending on the skills that you want to teach, choose some of the techniques below:

  • Who am I?
    One of the learners selects a public figure and prepares a speech in their name. The audience has to guess who their peer is. This activity helps students focus on major traits, learn to analyze, make argumentative assumptions, and better connect with and understand others.
  • Jigsaw
    Students are given a topic on which to become an expert. Then the student or the group teaches the material to the class. The experts are responsible for the coordination and the active participation of the others.
  • Solve the mystery
    Make your students act like investigators. Create a mystery scenario and let them solve the puzzle. This is extremely useful when you want the students to learn details about a particular person. Thus, they will have to dig into facts and, hopefully, find answers.
  • Socratic dialogue
    The facilitator provides a question that requires personal responses from the other learners. These responses provoke further questions. This activity is also known as teaching through questioning. In general, the goal is to achieve a consensus on moral, ethical, or social issues. This role-playing game increases critical thinking and also sheds light on contemporary problems.

Have You Also Tried?

  • Court trial
    The idea behind this activity is to challenge different points of view. First, select a historical figure and then choose a case. After that, divide your group into prosecutors and defendants. Some of the students will have to plead guilty and others not guilty. Additionally, you can select a jury or a victim.
  • Concept mapping
    Give your students the chance to graphically map a known concept. This activity draws on prior knowledge. It also helps with knowledge revision, as well as with repetitive learning. It is generally done at the start of a unit as a recap, however, some teachers prefer to use this activity at the end of a lesson.
  • Inductive reasoning
    This involves finding the path that leads to a known solution. Inductive reasoning is the ability to combine pieces of information and make associations between them in an unusual way. The goal is to develop the students’ skills at finding patterns, creating new rules, and explaining phenomena.

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Tanya Ilieva has strong experience in journalism, advertising, creative copywriting and digital marketing. She has a PhD in Graphic design from Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Some of her creative works in advertising has been rewarded both in Bulgaria and abroad. Her fields of interest include: philosophy of language, semiotics, visual metaphors, linguistic.
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