Virtual planning simulation
Contribution to the learning process
This is a simulation aiming at learning about virtual planning.
In the protected space of a simulation, learners can prepare for complex practical situations and test themselves. They can make decisions, take risks, and consider consequences without having any real implications of their actions.
This simulation allows constructivistic, deconstructive and reconstructive learning at the levels of contents and relations. They focus on individual capabilities related to participation, democratic behaviour, and potentially, the intrinsic motivation for learning. (more detailed in REICH 2003)
To see how the virtual simulation is integrated in the FyR project, see "Online cooperation in your river project".
To simulate an environmental conflict at the river and develop your ability to resolve real conflicts.
- Book of the River > My book (login) > our partnerships > Work spaces with partner schools > (select your work space) and there the tools:
Your workspace is a closed area not open to the public. Only you and your partner group have access.
Video conference (cf. annotation to virtual role playing)
Required time for preparation and realization
The activity can be completed in one week but it can also be spread out over a longer period.
Two groups of learners in two different places
Requirements and preparation
The simulation as it is described here should not be performed until all participating groups have had in-depth interaction with their river; only after data acquisition and evaluation. A video conference for a virtual meeting would be ideal, especially if a real meeting cannot be arranged. However, this is not available on the FyR platform.
Based on their regional reality, a scenario for the simulation has to be created by the group.
The following scenario is an example:
The participants live or work at different sections of the same river, say in towns A and B. A serious alteration of the river is planned, such as the development of a "waterway" between A and B or construction of a dam at the town A, which is situated on the river above B. Legally, the alteration cannot move forward without a public consultation with the citizens affected by the change. A procedure set for this purpose entitles people (residents, local economy, authority, environmental protection unions) to the right to recieve information and express opposition to the project. The competent authority has to approve the project if it does not violate effective laws or the protected rights of affected people. The competent authority can also approve the project under specified conditions. Public hearings give affected community a forum to express their claims and views. These hearings and the respective preparation form the core of the simulation.
The simulation should involve at least the following roles:
- Applicant (who promotes the project)
- Competent authority
- If necessary further authorities involved
- Residents of A and B
- Persons directly concerned (e.g. people with riverside property)
- Representatives of the industries profiting from the project
- Members of an environmetal protection union
- Mayors or municipal councilors of A and B
- A coordinator or director of the simulation (tutor) – an ideal role for one of the participating teachers.
The group must prepare information material suitable for the chosen scenario, such as a description of the game, the roles, reports or articles related to the situation and background. Such material may already be available; check before initiating the activity.
Questions, method, duration and rules should be agreed upon beforehand with all participants (within the groups participating or via E-mail).
Since the participating groups already know one another, a separate get-to-know-you activity is not needed. If necessary the simulation may begin with a chat for smalltalk and resolving open questions.
- Introduction (each group separately): method (rules), game scenario (problem, rules etc.) The pupils are assigned to small groups and every small group is cast in one of the roles.
- Information and reading phase (each small group separately): The groups work at separate tables. They get working cards (identical for all groups) and the specific cards for their respective roles.
- Forming opinions and strategy planning, separately in small groups: The groups structure the information obtained and check their starting point. They discuss options for actions and develop ideas and strategies on their aims and solutions to end the conflict. (For example, the applicant could think about possible concessions to the affected residents or the environmental protection group could decide between complete refusing of the project or trying to modify it.) The teachers observe the discussions and only answer to questions.
- Interaction between the small groups (online, by means of E-mail, forum or chat): Communication between the groups is used to learn about the strategies of the conflicting parties, form alliances for conflict solution, or get additional information. For these actions the groups are completely free within the given scenario. Special "event cards" may be used by the game director to bring about variations in the scenario or to give additional ideas. Otherwise the director is only observing the progress.
- Preparation of the plenum (separately in small groups): The groups collect their information, digest and evaluate it; this way the strategy for the plenum is worked out - i.e. their aims, arguments, strategies, the respective roles (e.g. who gives the introductory statement?). Teachers only observe or give answers to questions.
- Plenum (virtually, with video conference): This is the simulation of the public hearing. It is opened by the competent authority. The applicant explains the project. Thereafter the other parties can plead for or against the project or may put forward questions to the applicant and the authority. The authority retires for a short deliberation and returns to pronounce the decision. The stakeholders give their final statement. They can agree with the decision of the authority or reject it and they have the right to legal proceedings to appeal the decision. The game director presides over hearing and ensures everyone has a fair chance to speak.
Evaluation (separately in the learning groups): Participants reflect on and analyse the simulation with respect to content, relations and how it fits into the class’ FyR project. Teachers moderate the evaluation.
Each group makes their evaluation available to the other participating groups.
The groups may think about how to use the insights from the game for further practical work. E.g. ind the future, which partners should be more involved? How do we cope with defeat?
Experiences / results
Virtual planning is a well-proven method for presence-work. Up to now, there has been no experience with the simulation.
A video conference seems extraordinarily well suited as central IT tool since it is well suited to mediate contents and relations and also because it allows organize it such that only one participant can speak at once, allowing more constructive dialogue to take place. (see also the annotation to virtual role playing)