Experience is not always the best teacher
Life experiences are very effective at teaching people how to behave but can be misleading. A police officer may try to get a confession by threatening someone and then get the confession. This experience can lead the officer to think they know the right approach. Unfortunately, this technique leads to a very low rate of real confessions and a high rate of false ones. A counselor may lecture a drug user on the dangers of using, so the user says he will stop. This experience teaches the wrong lesson. In most cases, the drug user will know about the dangers and only harden their position on the benefits of using. Techniques used in motivational interviewing are far more successful. Experience doesn’t always teach the right lesson.
Using experiences to teach
How can we assure that learners’ experiences are teaching the right lessons? Educators need to provide the right experience and that can mean using some sort of simulation. Federal law enforcement agents learn how to arrest someone by working through the procedures with a role-player who will take advantage of a learner’s mistakes, thereby providing the right meaningful experience. For soft-skill training, educators may use well-trained role-players and use video tapes of the exercise to provide feedback. However, working with live role-players can be expensive, and the variety of experiences are limited.
Virtual role-players can provide the right realistic experiences
Virtual role-players can provide the learner with an experience that reinforces the methods that should be used. For motivational interviewing (See https://www.simmersion.com/mi), if the learner starts to lecture the role-player, he will become uncooperative and end the session, providing a typical, and realistic, experience. However, if motivational techniques are properly applied, the role-player will decide for himself that quitting is his best option, providing a realistic experience that reinforces the correct utilization of motivational interviewing.
Role-players can also be used to teach police how to conduct an investigation. During a practice with SIMmersion’s HIITS training, any effort to intimidate the subject of the investigation will cause the subject to clam up and walk out. (See https://www.simmersion.com/hiits) Again, properly applying the investigative techniques being taught will provide experiences that reinforce the best methods.
Virtual role-players provide more than the right experience
Virtual role-players offer the learner a chance to carefully evaluate different options and consider what they are about to say. The SIMmersion role-player training systems provide on-going feedback, so learners can know if what they said helped them reach their goal. With virtual role-players, experience can be the best teacher.