Role play and simulations: serious game and adaptive learning in distance learning

Read the article to find out how role play and simulations, specific types of serious games, can be built and used in online teaching thanks to the possibilities offered by adaptive learning. Want to see some examples or learn more? Visit our YouTube Channel or contact us to speak with one of our consultants!



Serious games are, as the name suggests, activities used in teaching and based on gamification strategies, but whose purpose is to educate rather than entertain or amuse. We therefore speak of “serious game” in all those cases, in the education of children as in that of adults, in which the game and its elements become a learning tool.



Many think that using serious games in teaching means only letting students play – with cards, board games, constructions and the like – but that’s not the case. On the contrary, the game can be introduced in training in many ways, even without actually being recognized as such.

Some examples of gamification elements, which we talked about in a previous article, can be: the use of a completeness meter for the path, the issuing of badges and rewards, the unlocking of additional content, stopwatches and timed activities, the use of avatars, the creation of rankings (real or simulated) based on the score obtained.



Especially in adult education, the perception of an activity as excessively playful can demotivate the participants and make the lesson ineffective. In these cases, therefore, it is necessary to introduce gamification in a targeted way, to “challenge” learners and make them feel they have control over their training path.

This strategy responds to several principles of Andragogy. In the first place, the willingness to learn: by placing the student in front of contingent objectives (acquiring points, obtaining badges, passing levels), he will be motivated to achieve them by following the lesson. In addition, always in this regard, the principle of intrinsic motivation is called into question, according to which in the education of adults it is essential that they themselves are self-motivated. Last but not least, properly structured serious games can leverage the principle of problem orientation: the presentation of knowledge and skills related to practical uses increases, according to Andragogy, the propensity to learn.



If we talk about implementing the notions acquired, the main typology of serious games that comes to mind are role play and simulations.

Role play in teaching involves the simulation of behaviors typical of certain situations or contexts, which are recreated in a plausible way and as close to reality as possible. Similarly, simulations involve the execution of activities in a controlled and safe environment, in order to prepare the learner to face the real situation.

These teaching methods are suitable for training both in the field of transversal skills (the so-called soft skills) and in technical skills (hard skills). In the first case, they can be successfully performed in both live and online scenarios; in the second, the use of online is mostly necessary, with digital simulators and technologies that recreate the software, machinery or any tool you want to train the use of.



The construction of role play and online simulations takes us into the field of asynchronous digital training and SCORM, the standard that allows the traceability of interactions.

A fundamental characteristic of this type of teaching is given by the possibility of personalizing the users’ journey based on their actions: this is the principle of adaptive learning, in which a single content with various options is outlined on the basis of choices or answers given gradually by the learner.

So how do you combine adaptive learning with role play and online simulations? Thanks to this structure, it is possible to reconstruct contexts and situations in a realistic way, bringing the user into a plausible story in which he can make decisions and take actions to achieve his “game” goal.

It seems important to emphasize that the adaptive lesson that progresses based on answers to multiple-choice questions is only one of the possibilities offered by this type of design. In fact, in more complex content and especially in simulations, the user does not perceive at all that he is faced with a choice with finite options: he is simply asked to perform an action (start the engine, report the email, deactivate the alarm, etc.), and the system will be suitably constructed to be able to interpret all its possible movements.


Do you want to see some examples of FAD with role plays and simulations or learn more about serious games and adaptive learning? Visit our YouTube Channel or contact us to speak with one of our consultants!



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