Active Learning In Virtual Environment/Role Playing

Activity: #offline/long-term, #individual-work, #group-work, #needs-preparation


Role play is a method that allows students to explore realistic situations by interacting with other people in a managed way in order to develop experience and trial different strategies in a supported environment. Depending on the intention of the activity, participants might be playing a role similar to their own or could play the opposite part of the conversation or interaction.[1] Role play exercises give students the opportunity to assume the role of a person or act out a given situation. These roles can be performed by individual students, in pairs, or in groups which can play out a more complex scenario. Role plays engage students in real-life situations or scenarios that can be stressful, unfamiliar, complex, or controversial which requires them to examine personal feelings toward others and their circumstances.[2]

Role Playing Illustration

Activity arrangementEdit

  • Inform the students that you are going to do a role playing exercise.[3]
  • When assigning the role play, explain its purpose and answer questions so students are able to properly prepare the exercise.[4]
  • Allow time for students to practice the role play, even if it is spontaneous, so they will be able to think deeply about the role and present it in a meaningful way.[5]
  • Reduce large chunks of content into smaller sections which can be more effectively presented as a role play.[6]
  • Challenge all students equally when assigning role plays so everyone will be assessed on equal ground.[7]
  • Execute the exercise first in smaller groups and then with the whole class.
  • End the exercise and discuss with the class about what they thought about the exercise and what they’ve learned.


  • Motivates and engages students[8]
  • Enhances current teaching strategies[9]
  • Provide real-world scenarios to help students learn[10]
  • Learn skills used in real-world situations for example negotiation, debate, teamwork, cooperation, persuasion[11]
  • Provide opportunities for critical observation of peers[12]

How to use this method in online class?Edit

This method can be used in online class. Just by following the guidelines but on for example on Zoom. Inform the class and assign the roles for the next lecture. On the day of lecture, divide the class into smaller groups first and then in the class start a conversation with the class that they as characters need to participate.


  1. Ian Glover, ‘Role-play: An Approach to Teaching and Learning’, 2014, Technology Enhanced Learning at SHU, Sheffield Hallam University, received from
  2. Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. Washington, DC: The George Washington University.
  3. Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2012). Role playing. Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. Ibid
  12. Ibid