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Active Learning Immersive Scenario Games in Teaching & Learning: Impresarios with Scenarios

An Alternative to Simply Telling Students What They Need to Know*

Teaching of course is "simply" the attempt to get new information into the minds of students.   Good teachers "simply" find novel ways to make this happen more effectively and efficiently.   This pedagogy exemplified by "active learning, immersive scenario games" is by no means new.  It is only a somewhat more innovative take on long standing practices of problem-based-learning, experiential learning and case methodology that has grown out of the "student centered learning" movement.  But, there is a growing movement toward making these active learning activities more mainstream.  Innovative teachers are using these techniques to increase engagement and learning retention by applying the techniques of games, simulations, drama, role-play and, well - staging.

I took the title of this section from a book by Anthony Weston: Teaching as the Art of Staging : a scenario-based college pedagogy in action.  As it turns out, while I was floundering around  discovering and pulling together the information about "immersion scenarios"  and thinking that I had somehow hit upon something innovative, he had already perfected the technique and had written a book about it.  The term an "impresario with a scenario" is a  term coined by Weston in his book.  It is in the vein of (and even in place of) the term "guide on the side" as a description of a particular kind of teacher who uses "staging" to facilitate active learning.  Whereas "guide on the side" indicates a teacher who does his best to take himself off the center of the stage and "guide" students in knowledge acquisition, a scenario impresario plays a more active role in insuring his student's engagement and experiential learning. You should read his excellent book to get practical details on how a teacher can accomplish this.  His is the first book I have read that pulls together all of the concepts exemplified by what I have come to call immersion games.

I just finished reading his book myself and was so impressed with Weston's arguments and practical applications that am dedicating this section to the idea of a "scenario impresario."   Indeed, his explanation of these "scenario" activities is certainly more comprehensive than my own and his application is thorough.  Mr Weston has inspired me.  To be sure I think his use of the term "scenario" as a classroom realization is probably sufficient a term to include all of the game-like activities I have included in this guide.  Still, I appreciate the descriptive nuance that the adjective "immersive" lends to these scenarios, so, I am sticking with that addition for now.

I have yet to find another source other than Weston's that so comprehensively covers the idea of the role of teacher as an "impresario with a scenario" - the role of the active teacher in learner-centered teaching.  But, there are plenty of  sources that support this concept with practical techniques and assessment data.   I am assembling such as I find below.   

--Jared Seay, October 1, 2019

*This is the title of a section within Weston's book