Successful Role-Play For Learning Online
Solis Images/Shutterstock.com

Role-Play For Learning Online: How To Implement It Successfully

Bringing storytelling to life, role-play allows learners to stand in the shoes of another role to create more engaging and memorable learning in a safe environment.

What Is Role-Play?

Role-play enables learners to experience realistic examples of practices, behaviours and decision-making skills they need to be successful and confident in the desired role. Realistic scenarios and characters provide a more interactive way to learn rather than the usual classroom-based learning. Alternatively, role-play can be used to connect knowledge from classroom-based learning to true-to-life simulations.

How Can It Be Used In eLearning?

You might be wondering how role-play can be accomplished without other people and online? Well, role-play can be brought to life with interactive videos. Interactive films can be carefully executed and put together so that they provide learners with the exact same scenario they would in real life role-play.

When creating your videos for role-playing, it is important to consider all of the people and environments that would be involved in the real-life situation. Whether that be other employees, customers, managers, a noisy call centre or a hectic ER, you need to ensure you provide learners with the most realistic situation.

One way to achieve learner objectives is to allow the learner to pick a character or role. Remembering that role-play is usually interactive, we need to make sure the learner has some decisions to make or challenges to face. This can be done through multiple choice questions, branching decision points which change how the scenario unfolds, hotspots, or even having to create a product (depending on what you want to teach).

Role-play learning online is in effect, on demand, and so learners should be given the opportunity to change characters to understand both employee and customer needs. Alternatively, allowing learners to ‘try again’ gives them the chance to fill any gaps in their knowledge and correct mistakes.

Interactions aren’t just a great learning tool, they can be used to give feedback to both the learner and learning manager. Feedback and behavioural data provide great insights for learning managers to understand where there are gaps in knowledge to be able to adapt future learning, objectives, and goals. Additionally, feedback can help learners understand their choices and identify where improvements are needed.

Through traditional role-play learning, behavioural data and feedback aren’t readily available. Additionally, large, realistic scenarios can be a huge financial ask for some. So, with role-playing online being able to test and teach learners with realistic scenarios, decisions, data insights and feedback in a cost-effective way, why wouldn’t you want to integrate it into your learning strategy?

Online Role-Play Examples

Day one: combine simulations, peer learning, social learning and scenarios to provide learners with customer service training. Through a desktop system, their ‘eRoleplay’ pairs up learners to allow them to practice customer service conversations.

One learner acts as the customer, and they are provided with information on who they are and why they are calling. Suggestions of what they could say are given, whilst also being able to see how their partner is progressing. Their partner, on the other hand, only has the simulated desktop and should speak to the ‘customer’ in the most appropriate way to achieve the best outcome.

Ensuring learners and trainers understand any gaps in knowledge, customers get the chance to rate their partner on areas such as soft skills, time management, data entry, and screen navigation.

Overall, a feasible and efficient way to train customer service employees in a safe environment.

The University of London used online role-play as part of their midwifery course, a sector where most would think a face-to-face approach would be best. They wanted to ensure learners had a clear understanding of the ethics surrounding the maternity service, through an online, low-cost, interactive, simulated course.

The course was blended with face-to-face teaching and allowed learners to make autonomous clinical decisions as a midwife but to also understand what it was like in the service users’ shoes. Working through several midwifery appointments, learners had to deal with tensions which aimed to promote reflection of how experiences can affect both midwife and service user.

The module leader was able to monitor the decisions made; these insights became helpful in face-to-face teaching and discussion groups. Where both conventional and online teaching is needed, this module is a prime example. However, this really shows the impact role-play learning online has; a way to give a great depth of learning and true-to-life experiences prior to qualified practice.

Designed for aid workers operating in areas of risk, HostileWorld uses role-play learning online to provide courses to practice behaviours, protocols and security challenges. Based around the well-established concept of ‘Hostile Environment Awareness Training’ or ‘HEAT’, HostileWorld allows a more cost-effective and flexible way for learners to face the same type of choices that learners are presented within face-to-face exercises.

Using the innovative Near-Life™ technology, learners are expected to make decisions in a timely manner as they would do working in the field. The technology means learners experience immersive role-play learning through a unique film approach, using real characters and locations.

The learning unfolds as learners make their decisions, showing just how fast things can take a turn in real life. Furthermore, the courses provide behavioural data which allows both the learner and learning manager the scope to analyse progress and feedback.

With such realistic and relevant scenarios for learners, HostileWorld has given role-play learning online a whole new meaning.

Is Role-Play Learning Online The Way Forward?

Whilst role-play is well established for the value it brings, role-play in eLearning remains an emerging space. But with new technology and learning approaches, role-play online has the scope to immerse learners through video, ensuring their experience is as realistic as possible. Additionally, aside from cost benefits, by making role-play digital, it becomes easier to track and analyse progress and feedback. Learning can also be repeated in a way that costly, traditional role-play learning often can’t be.

Role-play in eLearning can bring higher engagement and knowledge retention and is now a realistic choice for learning providers. It definitely allows learners a more engaging, realistic and immersive experience than traditional, static content.

eBook Release: Near-Life™ CREATOR
Near-Life™ CREATOR
Near-Life CREATOR is an interactive video authoring tool that allows you to design and deliver, cutting-edge, immersive learning scenarios. Near-Life CREATOR puts learning designers and content producers in control.
Close