Using Online Roleplay/Simulations for Creating Learning Experiences

Robert G McLaughlan, Denise Kirkpatrick, Philip Hirsch, Holger R. Maier


Over 140 geography and engineering students from across Australia and overseas spent 4 weeks participating in an online roleplay-simulation set in the Mekong region of South East Asia. The online environment provides a setting for the construction of alternative points of view and a lively debate and creates an authentic context for student collaboration. The roleplay-simulation involves decision-making and conflict resolution regarding natural resource development. The Mekong e-Sim (electronic simulation) has been designed to support the learning of students studying subjects in the subjects Technology Assessment, Environmental Engineering or Asia Pacific Development Studies at different universities. The students share the online roleplay simulation experience, which is then utilised differently within each of the geography or engineering subjects at the institution where the students are enrolled. Student and staff response has been very positive. Students report that the e-Sim provides a realistic experience, is engaging, develops their information technology and communication skills and increases their awareness of multiple perspectives on the issues involved.

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