Academic education is notorious for being abstract and overly theoretical. While that is obviously not always the case, methods tagged with this keyword look at personal and group experiences as legitimate sources of knowledge and exchange of them as cornerstone of knowledge sharing. Be it sharing personal biographies or real life experiences, these methods bring genuine experiences rather than tested theories to the fore.
‘Learning in the Round’ is a profoundly social process where learning is not a transaction but a transformation. All actors in the process are able to shape the content and conditions of learning. Traditional distinctions between teacher and learner are transformed. In a fully realised work-based learning process where the learner is fully engaged, experience is converted into learning. It is about learning through practice in a range of environments and contexts.
Role-play is an instructional method based on experiential learning theory, which posits that learning by experience and reflection are best ways for adults to learn. It is a method “in which key ideas and skills are illustrated or practised by learners assuming roles and contexts in which the ideas and skills would typically be applied” (Reigeluth and Keller, 2009, p. 37). In role play, learners act out specific roles in a real-world scenario, to experience and exercise how to act in real-life situations, to develop and test specific skills required to handle a particular situation or problem, as well as to put themselves in positions or identities other than their own.
The method engages participants in exploring and researching the topic/problem/issue, building their arguments and story line for or against a specific position. It gives inputs as well as a lot of freedom to participants in building knowledge on the topic, finding sources and debating etc. The method is excellent for dealing with issues and topics that are divisive and contested in a society or a particular professional field, as well as with trends in a professional field that are pushed with no space to be critically examined and thought through (such as audience development and citizen participation in culture). It is suited for different cultural backgrounds and age, but it requires reading skills and time to explore the topic.