live role-play

eSimulations: Are You Up to the Challenge?

In my last blog, I outlined the merits of eSimulations and explored some compelling reasons why recent advances have made them more effective than live role-play. In short, today’s eSimulations:

  • Can now contain hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of video-based nodes, meaning they can accurately reflect small changes in tone and language.
  • Deliver a consistent experience for every user, eliminate the variability inherent in a live human role-player and can be scored in such a way that they eliminate rater (coach) bias.
  • Provide significantly more practice opportunities than classroom-based live-role play.

So yes, it’s a great time to consider (or reconsider) bringing eSimulations into your training and development curriculum. Blueline Simulations would be proud to partner with you to find the perfect fit for your organization.

Look before you leap

What if this all sounds good, but your organization isn’t quite ready to make the leap all the way into “intelligent” eSimulations? That’s where Management Challenge™ comes in.

Management Challenge™ offers many of the same benefits in a hybrid solution that utilizes technology to enhance the live role-player experience. It delivers a role-play with the consistency of experience of a well-designed eSimulation that’s responsive to managers in the age of social media and engagement… yet doesn’t sacrifice the individualized feedback and coaching of a live classroom.mgmt-challenge-questions

Working in table teams, learners are quickly drawn into a computer-based simulation in which they must run a fictional organization for three consecutive quarters. They compete to deliver the highest return on human resources by identifying, motivating, coaching and developing talent.

Along the way, they face realistic challenges such as:

  • How do I allocate my resources most effectively across multiple projects?
  • How do I increase employee engagement?
  • How do I handle conflict among coworkers?
  • How do I develop my people – both through assignments and through coaching?

Management Challenge™ delivers a vivid learning experience that parallels the real experiences faced by every manager you know.

I invite you to contact us to learn about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

eSimulations: Has Live Role-Play Met Its Match?

It’s a common belief that, for all of their plusses, the big minus with eSimulations is their inability to discern nonverbal communication. And with research showing the significant role tone of voice and body language play in human communication, that’s a very big minus.esims-more-effective

Recent advances, however, have changed that. In fact, for many applications, today’s eSimulations are more effective than live role-play on every level. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • Level 4 eSimulations (using a rules-based gaming engine) are extremely realistic. Now that developers can create hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of video-based nodes, eSimulations can accurately reflect small changes in tone and body language. Throw in the use of voice recognition, and you have an unparalleled user experience!
  • eSimulations deliver a consistent experience for every user. Notice that I didn’t say the same That wouldn’t be accurate because, in theory, depending on the number of nodes, hundreds could face the same choices and have the same opportunities, but because of the decisions they make, have a completely unique experience. eSimulations eliminate the variability inherent in a live human role-player and can be scored in such a way that they eliminate rater (coach) bias as well.
  • eSimulations can provide significantly more practice opportunities than classroom-based live-role play. For each live role-play, you need to engage two people and optimally three, who often then rotate roles. In the same or less time, all three people could accomplish three rounds of practice each, and probably more, through eSimulation.

That said, eSimulations still aren’t for everyone – primarily because of price. While development costs have dropped dramatically as developers have improved processes and tools, the relative value of this technology is still dictated by the volume of users who can benefit. While some off-the-shelf solutions can serve small numbers of users cost effectively, custom applications typically need an audience of 100 or more users to be cost effective.

I invite you to contact us to learn about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

How to Maximize the Effectiveness of Live Role-Play

Live role-plays are not inherently better than eSimulations, there are some conditions that must exist to make this type of practice effective:

First, the role-play should be well constructed to reflect real-life situations that the learner is likely to face, but not be so complicated that individual aspects of a skill cannot be isolated for practice and feedback.

Second, the quality of a live role-play is very dependent on the quality of the “other party,” with whom the learner is interacting. Effective role-play construction can minimize this, but there will always be some variability in the quality of the experience.

Third, and perhaps most important, the effectiveness in improving performance will greatly depend on the quality of the observer/coach and the feedback they provide. Developing competent coaches is paramount to any live role-play scenario.

One way that my designs ensure a good experience for each learner is to provide multiple role-play opportunities with multiple parties being the “other” and “coach.”

Point/Counter Point: Live Role-Play vs. eSimulations

Point: Robert Coates

The latest “craze” with social and mobile learning will not replace classroom training any more than books replaced lectures, television replaced radio, or video tapes and DVDs replaced movie theaters. Each new innovation in technology provides additional ways of communicating, but doesn’t totally supplant the old ones.

My position is that, as good as eSimulations have become, there are still some aspects of live role-play based skill practice that can’t be duplicated or replaced. What eSimulations excel at are providing opportunities to evaluate a situation and weigh options for responding. It’s at the level of “human” communication, rather than decision-making, that they can’t yet replicate.

Albert Mehrabian and others have investigated the non-verbal aspects of human communication and are often quoted as saying that the meaning of a communication is only 7% the words you say, 38% the tonality, and 55% the body language. Actually, Mehrabian concludes that those percentages are the formula we use for resolving the meaning of inconsistent messages (see Silent Messages 2nd Edition pages 75-58). The point that How you say something is just as or more important than What you say is almost axiomatic. Just changing what word is emphasized in a sentence can completely change its meaning.

It is in this critical non-verbal area of communication that I believe live role-play excels. Subtle communications like tone of voice, timing, eye-contact, and body language play a huge role in our interactions with others. These are also behaviors that can be practiced, improved upon and coached. Currently, technology does not allow us to evaluate the learner’s use of these through eSimulation.

Counterpoint: David Milliken

Just 10 months ago I would have agreed with Robert. But today, because of the many advances that have occurred in eSimulations, for many applications they are actually better. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Level 4 eSimulations (using a rules-based gaming engine) are extremely realistic. Now that developers can create hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of video-based nodes, eSimulations can accurately reflect small changes in tone and body language. Throw in the use of voice-recognition and you have an unparalleled user experience!
  2. eSimulations deliver a consistent experience for every user. Notice that I didn’t say the same experience. That wouldn’t be accurate because, in theory, depending on the number of nodes, hundreds could face the same choices and have the same opportunities, but because of the decisions they made, have a completely unique experience. eSimulations eliminate the variability inherent in a live human role player and can be scored in such a way that they eliminate rater (coach) bias as well.
  3. eSimulations can provide for significantly more practice opportunities than classroom based live-role play. For each live role-play you need to engage two people and optimally three, who often then rotate roles. In the same or less time, all three people could accomplish three rounds of practice each, and probably more, through eSimulation.

However, eSimulations still aren’t for everyone. While development costs have dropped dramatically as developers have improved processes and tools, the relative value of this technology is still dictated by the volume of users who can benefit. While some off-the-shelf solutions can serve small numbers of users cost effectively, if you need to develop something custom, typically you need an audience of 100 or more users for it to be cost effective.

We want to know what YOU think! Lend your voice to the conversation.