1, Number 3 August/September 2000
the Power of the World Wide Web for Conflict Studies Courses
(page 3 of 3)
Use of mock mediations,
facilitations, and negotiations enacted by students is
a very common teaching technique in conflict resolution
courses. This is especially true for courses with a skill
training component. Because of the frequent use of roleplays,
most folks are regularly on the lookout for new case scenarios
to use in class or in workshops.
mediation roleplay scripts are featured regularly
in the REPORT (see Vol.
1 and Vol.
2 examples), and printed collections of mediation
roleplays are occasionally noted in the REPORT's
Resource Reviews section.
interested in negotiation simulation scripts will
want to check out the collections available from the Harvard
Program on Negotiation Clearinghouse and the Northwestern
University Negotiation and Decision-making Case Collection.
While I am unclear on current availability, Willamette
University has regularly sponsored a simulation writing
contest that has produced roleplay script collections
Movies and videos
have always been a popular teaching tool. For those wishing
search through the educational media universe (as opposed
to popular films), the National
Information Center for Educational Media provides
a free trial password providing access to their database
of more than 450,000 educational media titles. As the
field of Alternative Dispute Resolution has expanded,
more videos specifically addressing conflict resolution
have become available. While this is exciting from an
instructional point of view, they remain rather hard to
track down, although a list of videos
relating to peace studies can be found online as well.
In addition to videos aimed specifically at conflict resolution
audiences, there have also been projects and conference
presentations of late on using popular movies to teach
conflict resolution themes. Along these lines, the Hartwick
Humanities in Management Institute has developed a set
Resolution Leadership Case Studies based primarily
on films, although the focus of the Institute's collection
seems to lean more toward leadership than conflict resolution.
One of the outstanding multimedia training tools for campus
use is the Allwyn Hall CD-ROM, a tool developed under
a FIPSE grant for training residence life staff in basic
conflict resolution skills. A few screenshots
of the Allwyn Hall CD are available in the Resolve-it
College site highlighted in the last issue. (Note: The
Allwyn Hall website is down due to a change of servers,
so you'll need to use the noted email address to get more
Demonstrations and Tutorials
One nice benefit
of the information technology era is the proliferation
of online tutorials and demonstrations of many types.
These materials can be used as homework assignments, or
as in-class activity, or as part of a lecture demonstration
of a core concept. Our field is developing it's own share
of tools, especially in the area of negotiation skills.
Links to some interesting examples are provided below.
Tools for Teaching Negotiation
(See the Negotiation Course. Includes a spreadsheet
exercise on BATNAs, and a negotiation introduction both
developed by Marjorie McDiarmid using Adobe Acrobat)
a Web-based Negotiation Support System (developed
by the InterNeg group at Carleton and Concordia Universities.
You or your students negotiate over the web with a real
but unknown opponent.)
Negotiation Simulator (computer-based interactive
video simulation of business negotiations)
Negotiation Simulation (Demo of a decision support
and negotiation system, using hypothetical dispute between
Syria and Israel set some thirty years in the future
over the proposed building of a Disney themepark on
or near what is presently referred to as the Golan Heights.)
style Temperament Sorter for use by Negotiators
(by Lowell K. Halverson from his Negotiating Styles
for Couples in Conflict site)
appears to be somewhat harder to simulate online based
on the relative scarcity of sites offering demos. One
sophisticated example worth a look is a computer-based
conflict resolution "applet" developed by Ron
Surratt called The
looking for Arbitration training tools may wish to examine
Arbitration Exercises. The demonstration while not
fancy by contemporary standards (i.e., few graphics and
no video), does provide a nice introduction to what arbitration
is and how it is conducted in various settings. To access
the 5 lessons and the accompanying readings, your college
(or more likely your Law School) must be a subscriber
to CALI. Many schools are, and they are listed in a drop
down list that you must use prior to accessing the lesson,
so you have a quick way to find out.
many online tools focus specifically on skill training
or demonstrating new technologies, other sites are designed
to introduce users to a set of important concepts (see
for instance the Roots
of Social Conflict exposition), or to provide insight
into a complex dispute.
The CyberLearning website exploring a Salmon
Fishing Dispute, or the Conflict
Yellowstone Wolves WebQuest are two good examples.
such as the Yellowstone Wolves example noted above are
a wonderful way to integrate the web into your courses.
In a future issue of the REPORT we will explore more fully
the ins and outs of developing conflict WebQuests. The
method has been used primarily in elementary and secondary
schools, but as more college classroom and labs get wired-up
the technique is migrating to college campuses as well.
Clearly the potential for conflict studies courses is
of campuses are developing distance learning courses covering
conflict resolution topics, and over time we should begin
to see a broader sharing of knowledge on how to best construct
and deliver these types of programs. The International
Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict developed
at the University of Colorado is a nice example of a more
comprehensive conflict studies tutorial that is currently
freely available. Developed with funds from the USIP and
the Hewlett Foundation, the core training program consists
of ten basic units--one on introductory theory, and nine
others, each focusing on a particular category of problem.
Each unit has a overview section and a number of more
specialized subsections describing common problems and
potential solutions. Examples give more information about
particular problems, or how solutions have been applied
in different situations.
nice example of an online course, still under construction,
can be found at the University of Bradford's Department
of Peace Studies. The course "Introduction
to Conflict Resolution: Draft Distance Learning Course"
is being developed by the staff at the Centre for Conflict
Resolution, and at least for now is freely available for
study and comment.
a Assessment and Grading Strategy
It would be nice
if the web also provided a solution to the challenges
of assessment and grading. The use of integrated courseware
packages like Blackboard and WebCT is growing on campus.
These programs include gradebooks, and various quizzing,
testing, and anonymous feedback systems as part of the
package. As use of these test-building tools grows among
conflict studies faculty, we may begin to see some sharing
among faculty of their conflict resolution question-banks.
This could be quite helpful over time.
these new tools are nice and can help with course organization
tasks, they really don't get at the underlying challenge
of determining what and how to evaluate student learning
and skill performance. Nor do they focus our attention
on techniques for assessing how we are doing as instructors
as the course unfolds. In an essentially applied field
like Conflict Resolution, many programs include a significant
amount of skill training. At the same time, most programs
I'm aware of seem to rely mainly on student papers, essays
and written exams for grading purposes. This seems like
a bit of a disconnect to me. Figuring out how to appropriately
assess conflict resolution skill acquisition within the
academic context remains a going concern.
the web can't directly answer these questions, it can
provide some great food for thought. For instance, you
may want to consider how your course relates to the various
resolution standards of practice now in circulation.
Are your students graded in a way that reflects mastery
of these basic concepts? Or should academia have a different
set of standards, raising the bar if you will, especially
in terms of the theoretical knowledge base. Our delphi
study on graduate study in dispute resolution came up
with a set of core
areas of knowledge and skills that might be used as
one starting place for this discussion.
is a lot of instructional support information on the web.
For more generalized advice on grading, you might want
to check out Quizzes,
Tests and Exams and Grading
Practices excerpted from Tools for Teaching
by Barbara Gross Davis from University of California,
Berkeley. For some basic advice on grading essays, visit
Method for Grading Essays in Any Course by Candace
you're really keen on sharpening your teaching skills
and course design methods across the board, you're in
luck. The growing network of Faculty
and Instructional Development offices around the country
are quite interested in these pedagogical challenges,
and many provide online resources and workshops to assist
faculty wanting to work in these areas. More workshops
and conference sessions specifically addressing the teaching
of conflict studies are now occurring as well (see for
example the Second
Annual Legal Educators Colloquium), suggesting that
opportunities for networking and skill sharing among faculty
are on the increase.
The World Wide
Web has a tremendous amount to offer conflict studies
faculty and conflict resolution skill trainers. Already
we can relatively easily find sample course syllabi, specialized
books, abstracts, full-text articles, news, and an interesting
range of case studies and online tutorials all directly
relevant to our field. And over time as bandwidths and
modem speeds increase, and the number of academic conflict
resolution programs and faculty grows, the harvest should
be even richer. New tools like the CRInfo site should
also help provide the field with a center of gravity on
the net. And I believe we will be presented with many
new opportunities to creatively collaborate on improving
teaching quality and student and faculty satisfaction
in conflict resolution courses and programs in the coming
years. I hope many of you will join in these efforts when
opportunity knocks. Clearly it is an exciting time for
the field and for those of us teaching in it.
provide quick access to many of the links found in this
article, I've created a website entitled Teaching
Conflict Management Courses in Academia: Resources for
Success. While largely unannotated and not directly
equivalent to this article, it does provide a useful starting
place for further exploration. Feel free to drop by at
Warters, Ph.D. is the Editor of
the Conflict Management in Higher Education Report.
He teaches in the Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution
program at Wayne State University.