Children learn much adult behavior by playing at being an adult. Likewise, adults can learn much by playing the role of someone else.
In a role-playing scenario, the instructor states a goal and assigns learners roles in achieving that goal. Learners research their roles. They then collaborate via chat, conferencing, discussion, or multi-user domains to play out their roles to achieve the goal.
Role-playing is a valuable way to teach subtle, interpersonal skills and to reveal the hidden complexity of many human endeavors. Here are some common uses of role-playing activities:
Force someone to view events from a different perspective. Give an environmental activist the role of a real-estate developer.
Allow someone to experience events online that they would not experience in real life. For example, let a man experience sexual harassment as a woman.
Demonstrate the many perspectives necessary for a complex undertaking. Have a management team guide a project from initial idea to successful product.
Teach interpersonal skills. Hold a committee meeting to find an effective compromise among competing ideas, groups, and individuals.
In the following example, participants simulate the meeting of the town Architectural Review Committee ...