Connections in Learning and Teaching

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Write-up: Showcasing Teaching: Using Online Role Play in Teaching, 11th November

Posted by on November 15th, 2009 · Events, Resources, Showcasing Teaching

Using Role Play in Teaching
Presentations by John Shepherd & Alison Rutherford

John Shepherd and Alison Rutherford shared their experiences of using online role play to effectively engage students and “increase their understanding of human interaction, social dynamics and systems involving human activity” (Shepherd, 2009 in presentation).

Key features of online role play include:

  • Students carry out authentic tasks in an authentic context
  • Students inhabit and interact within their roles
  • Situations are authentic and problem-based
  • Collaborative learning and reflective thinking

John presented an example of Middle Eastern politics online role play, where the aim was for students to develop an understanding of the complexities of Middle Eastern politics.  Alison presented a cross-disciplinary (Public Health and Mining Engineering) online role play based on real events related to a mine in Indonesia.

  • John’s slides on the ‘Middle East Politics’ online roleplay can be downloaded here: OnlineRolePlaySlides.
  • Alison’s slides on the ‘Buyat Bay’ online roleplay can be downloaded here: Buyat_Bay_showcase1.
  • A repository of role-plays can be found at:
    • The “roleplay search” link gives you a list of role play descriptions, with contact info for the designers if you want to follow up.
    • The “resources” link leads to documents covering aspects such as design and assessment.
  • John Shepherd of UNSW is happy for you to contact him with questions about online role play and/ or to help you set up an online role play (NB. From February 2010 a better online role play system will be available).  His email address:
  • Alison’s email address:

For further information on the Connections Seminar Series please contact Erin Withers at or phone x58636.  You can read more about the Connections in Learning & Teaching Seminar series here.

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