Exercise: Scenario/Role Playing

Summary of Example Activity

Students read about a scenario or situation based on a topic or problem that is central to the curriculum in each class. Students, working in groups composed of students from both locations, are assigned a role and must act out the scenario and resolve a problem given their role and the resources available to them in that context. After the activity a follow-up discussion will help students to critically discuss the outcome as well as make connections to the activity and course material.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Understand the perspectives of, and develop empathy for, each participant in a scenario.
  • Work to resolve issues in a scenario.
  • Demonstrate critical thought about a context through discussion.
  • Explore how course topics are differently understood and experienced.
  • Develop online intercultural communication skills

Materials and Data Needed

The instructors must choose a scenario that is accessible to both classrooms and prepare the reading and background materials necessary for the students to understand the context of the scenario and their role in it. This should include guidelines and expectations for each role assigned to the students.

Technology Needed

For a synchronous activity, the classes will both need video conferencing software such as Skype, Adobe Connect or Google Video Chat in order to participate in the scenario. In order to complete the assignment asynchronously, students will need access to a discussion forum either as a stand-alone platform such as WordPress, Collaborize Classroom, Facebook or in a learning management system like Moodle or Blackboard.

Estimated Time

A synchronous role-playing activity would take approximately 30 minutes to complete (followed by a 30-45 minute discussion) while an asynchronous activity would take approximately 3 days.


  1. Before the activity, students should be introduced to the assignment and receive introductory material about the collaborating classroom (read material, watch a video or a presentation from the instructor or selected students from the other class).
  2. At the beginning of the activity students should read, view or attend a lecture on the context of the scenario.
  3. Students are then put into groups, assigned a role, provided with assigned material about the scenario and any guidelines that they must follow during the activity. Students can also choose their role if this is appropriate for the situation.
  4. Complete the activity.
    • Students can prepare for their role before the synchronous session. Using video-conferencing software the students act out their role to complete the scenario with guidance from the instructor.
    • Students are allotted time to post to an online discussion forum. Students are required to post a minimum amount of times while following the guidelines of the activity and their specific role. The instructor facilitates the activity with guiding questions or other comments as appropriate.
  5. After the activity, the classes discuss the outcome of the exercise.
    • In a synchronous environment this can be done via video directly following the activity.
    • In an asynchronous environment, each class can meet and discuss the outcome in a face-to-face meeting.