30 Jan 2017
A turning point for soft skills - The Mediation Simulator
By James South, Director of Training, CEDR
Over the last 10 years the use of on-line training has been increasing in all sectors. From virtual reality to prepare surgeons for complex brain surgery, to airplane pilots being tested on simulators. Yet despite these advances, soft skills training like mediation, has been one of the last bastions of face-to-face only training. The reason for this of course is up until now the teaching of a process which is about human relationships always seemed impossible to deliver via technology.
However, with the trend toward on-line learning in all its forms increasing and the sophistication of the technology able to deliver many more nuanced approaches to learning, we should not avoid to look for ways to prepare and facilitate learning for future mediation professionals. We should seek to capture the spirit of mediation – which is also about innovation and flexibility – and collaborate with on-line training organisations to develop content and approaches that will meet mediator trainees needs while safeguarding the fundamental aspects of mediation and skills based training
The Mediation Simulator- Dipping our toe in the water
CEDR has always been an organisation which is keen to innovate in the field of dialogue, conflict management and dispute resolution, and therefore 2 years ago, we decided to begin our journey into on-line training delivery by trialling the use of an on-line approach called Serious Games.
Serious Games are a recent evolution in training technology, bought about by the rise of gamification (the use of game theory and game mechanics such as points, leader boards, badges, progress bars etc., in non-game contexts to engage users). The main purpose of Serious Games is the development of the skills of the player, by retaining attention and engagement through immersive and entertaining media.
Picking this idea up and particularly the concept of a ‘simulator’, CEDR began working with its serious game developer Highskillz, to develop the first ever Mediation Simulator for commercial mediation and workplace mediation.
How does the Simulator work?
CEDR’s Mediation Simulator gives you the opportunity to see what mediation looks like from the Mediator’s perspective – from the comfort of your desk and PC.
You take the seat of the mediator and work with the parties from the initial phone call with the lawyers until the signing of the settlement agreement at the end of a successful mediation. However, make the wrong choices during the simulator and the parties may go home with no agreement.
The choices you make during the process will determine the direction and the outcome of the dispute. You receive real-time feedback via indicators showing you how the parties have reacted to each of your decisions. Also at the end of each phase, you receive feedback on your performance through a scoring system and summary of learning points achieved.
Players also get access to CEDR's Mediator Handbook, previously only available to course participants and 40 videos showing effective mediator skills.
Integrating into our training and consultancy work
To ensure the quality of the skills and training through the Simulator, we have been trialling it as part of our mediator skills training courses for last 18 months as part of pre-course preparation – giving participants more knowledge about the mediation process and the role of mediator, meaning that on the course itself we can spend more time focusing on the skills and practice.
The feedback we received has been so good we wanted to have it used as widely as possible and have decided to make the Simulator available for purchase via our website
The simulator can now be acquired through our online portal at www.cedr.com/simulator where you can buy a single licence, or group at discounted rates
The commercial mediation simulator is also available in Spanish and we are looking for ADR organisation to partner with us to develop it into as many languages as we can.
This first foray into the world of on-line learning has opened our minds to the potential of e-learning methodologies and as an organisation which prides itself on innovation and quality of our training; in 2017 we will be continuing on this journey of development of our on-line learning approaches.