Thursday, April 12, 2018

Active Learning at my Course

This semester I again had the chance to teach my course on military strategy. This year I extended the course to also cover non-violent strategies of political contention for a more holistic approach to options for obtaining goals in contentious politics.

I also heavily increased the role of active learning components from 2 in the course, to 4.
Three of these components were centered around the students playing historical wargames, in board-game or miniature game form, or computer games and writing response papers on what they learned from the games, as well as applying concepts learned from lecture.

What I think I am doing :p

Students played a number of board-games. These included "The Tide at Sunrise" on the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Napoleon's Triumph on the Battle of Austerlitz , and the Origins of the First World War, on the July Crisis.

Students playing Tide at Sunrise, which my friend Doruk Akyuz helped manage. 

Students not assigned for a session to the hands on games, played the following computer games: DK Simulations Case White on the German invasion of Poland in 1939, DK Simulations Korsun Pocket 1944, The Sakarya/Sangarius scenario from the Open General Kaiser Campaign, and STAVKA-OKH pc game.

Finally I had some students play a miniature war-game. This was the my scenario for the Battle of Velestino 1897 for Bloody Big Battles. I adjusted the scenario to have the players start after a successful completion of the reconnaissance conditions for the Ottomans. Thus all Ottoman forces were on the table deployed, with the cavalry disrupted due to the fighting of the previous days. The game had 6 rather than 8 turns, to both shorten it for the class time, and to also reflect the elapsed scenario time. Both sides quickly grasped the basics of the rules. The Ottomans pushed on against Velestino, and were able to storm it towards the end. They also took the mountain spur overlooking it. However, they were too timid on the other side of the battlefield and lost precious time. In the end Greek counter-attacks were able to restore the line, and while the Ottomans came close to a draw, they were ultimately defeated as in history. 

The set up, looking towards the north-east.

the set-up looking towards the north.

The set up looking towards the west

the set-up looking towards the south

The student-players

In action


Steve J. said...

Great to see that you have the opportunity once again for your students to use wargames as an aid to their studies:)

Chris BBB said...

Yes, great to be able to use your students as an aid to your wargames (is that what you meant, Steve?). ;-)

But seriously: good job. There is great value to be had from such "learning by doing".


Bloody Big BATTLES!

Lorenzo Nannetti said...

Great work, in Italy some teachers I know do use war-games and roleplaying games in high school, and I myself used a negotiation simulation for a university class in conflict resolution.