Student role-play in Second Life®

Carefully and competently facilitated by Jutta Dierberg (aka Naomi Greenberg in Second Life®), we made our first attempt at in-world role playing in yesterday’s meeting. After a short warm-up with a guided imagery exercise designed to get the students in touch with possible “stories” that had happened to them during their internship, we needed, and fortunately found, one volunteer who was willing to share a brief experience with us that had stirred him up and that he was still concerned about.

In yesterday’s scenario, we tried a role play method known as “playback” where a group of (max. 4) actors plays a scene told to them by the protagonist. The students played the scene (as it had happened), then the protagonist was asked for comments and the floor was opened for a brief discussion. In a second scene, different actors then played out a different scene – in this case based on the things our protagonist would have liked to say but didn’t.

The result was, at least for me, quite impressive. From the moment that the playing itself started, the energy “in the room” (i.e. on our virtual island) was high and everybody seemed very involved – just like during improvisational theatre in the real world! The client/protagonist said several times that he enjoyed seeing both scenes from the outside.

We closed the evening with our – by now habitual – opinionator session for which I had prepared a couple of questions including “I would like to do more role-playing”. To Jutta’s and my surprise after what seemed like a successful session, all students disagreed. Questioned about the why, two things seemed to be the problem:

  1. students are not used to talk about their feelings and the emotions accompanying both positive and negative experiences on the job.
  2. those who shared their stories including feelings felt that they’d been “whining” and complaining too much.
  3. students did not understand the advantage of role playing over mere discussion.

We’ll give it another try next week with a role playing method that is a little more involved and should activate the whole group more. I think Jutta and I found good arguments on (3) – regarding (2) it would have been good to help the protagonist of the evening in particular to “step back into the group” so to speak (we ran out of time there). And issue (1) of course is a serious limitation of our whole university education: apparently, we do unleash our business administration and management students onto the world without the knowledge that their feelings are their most prized possessions – telling them, among other things – what to do, what ‘feels’ right and wrong and who they (really) are.

Having said that: I didn’t know this at age 20 or 25. Heck, I didn’t know this until I had seriously fucked my first big management assignment up!

So, still happy with the experimentation, and in particular with my helpers (Jutta/Naomi) and the students of this course!

And to round it all off: here are the pictures and slides (in German).

(reposted from the virtualHWR mixxt community)

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