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Student Instructor

Using Model Diplomacy in Online Learning 

Although Model Diplomacy was originally conceived as a blended learning experience involving both an online component and in-class role-play, it can be run as a fully online experience. If you are new to online teaching, and particularly if you are new to leading a discussion using videoconferencing software, it is worth spending a little time preparing for this new style of teaching. Your institution probably has resources about online teaching available. (If they do not, we recommend these suggestions and best practices on teaching with Zoom from the University of Southern California.) 


Here are some section-by-section tips for teaching Model Diplomacy entirely online: 


Sections 1 and 2 


Sections 1 and 2 are straightforward to use online and can be completed by students asynchronously. (That is, you can assign the work, set a deadline, and allow students to complete the work whenever they would like before the deadline.) Once students have been invited to a simulation and have created accounts on the Model Diplomacy website, they can access all of the reading and videos. If you have enabled assessments, students will be able to complete comprehension quizzes on the site as well, and you will be able to grade them on the Model Diplomacy site. Don’t forget to copy the grades over to your grade book! 


Sections 3 and 4 


Writing assignments (memos and draft clauses for UN Security Council cases) in sections 3 and 4 are also relatively straightforward to use online and can also be completed asynchronously. There are instructions and exemplars for all writing assignments on the Model Diplomacy website, and you can collect the completed work by whatever means you have established for your class, such as email or your institution’s learning management system. 


The role-play and debrief exercises were originally conceived as face-to-face experiences. In an online-only setting, we strongly encourage you to use videoconferencing software such as Zoom or Skype to conduct a synchronous session. The sorts of discussions that Model Diplomacy is designed to generate are difficult to conduct in an asynchronous setting or in a synchronous text chat or discussion board. 


Some tips for conducting role-play and debrief exercises online: 

  • If your students are not already familiar with the videoconferencing software you plan to use, send around instructions on how to use it and conduct a practice run ahead of time. 

  • If possible, have students use their National Security Council or UN Security Council roles as their display names in the videoconferencing software. 

  • Unless you have a very small class (roughly ten or fewer), use the “raise hand” function to have students signal when they would like to speak. 

  • Whoever is playing the role of national security advisor or president of the UN Security Council will need to be more proactive than in a face-to-face setting about managing the flow of conversation. 


Most of all, be patient and come with a good sense of humor. No matter how much preparation is put in, we’ve always found that online discussions are bumpier and take longer than face-to-face discussions, but students can still get a lot out of them. 


As always, please feel free to reach out to us by email if you have questions, feedback, or special needs that we can help with. And if your students have a good experience, we would love to hear about it on Twitter—tag us with @model_diplomacy