Teaching Online: Negotiation Pedagogy in a Pandemic

By — on / Pedagogy at PON, Teaching Negotiation

How do we adapt learning objectives to online instruction?

As the Coronavirus spreads around the world, many universities have moved to a remote learning structure with online classes. This raises a very crucial question for instructors: how do you transition a course designed to be in-person into an online format while ensuring students remain engaged and achieve the desired learning outcomes? Online learning presents many challenges for both instructors and students, but there are pedagogical opportunities as well that can be harnessed with the right strategy.

To help begin thinking about how online negotiation courses differ from in-person courses, check out this video clip of Professor Lawrence Susskind discussing interactive online training at the 2019 Negotiation Pedagogy Conference:



Adapting role-play exercises into an online format can be challenging, but there are some role-play simulations that are designed to be conducted in this kind of environment. For example, the simulation Fie’s Agent, available through the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC), is designed to be conducted asynchronously over e-mail communication.

Fie’s Agent is a two-party, approximately 3-hour, integrative negotiation between a soccer star and her long-term representative over the terms of a potential new agency contract. This simulation is a good vehicle for discussing the dynamics of negotiating via e-mail versus face-to-face, or through other media. Fie’s Agent also highlights issues regarding the principal-agent relationship, contract drafting, integrative and distributive bargaining, and the challenges in balancing substance, process, and relationship concerns.

There are many online tools to help instructors connect with their students, distribute teaching materials, and monitor learning. Platforms such as Zoom allow instructors to pre-record or do live lectures via video, and also assign participants to “break-out rooms” where they can conduct negotiation exercises over video chat.

For instructors looking to utilize real-time data analytics features in their courses, the TNRC offers a series of enhanced simulation packages via the iDecisionGames platform. These interactive, online packages offer:

  • An Instructor’s Guide summarizing the negotiation concepts covered in the simulation, a quick review of simulation logistics, and debriefing notes;
  • Highlights from background readings that will help both students and instructors gain a better understanding of negotiation concepts and methods covered in the simulation;
  • Pre- and post-simulation questionnaires instructors can use gauge each student’s grasp of the core concepts before and after participating in the simulation;
  • Pre-loaded PowerPoint slides that introduce key concepts before the simulation and highlight lessons for debriefing;
  • Real time, interactive, data analytics provided via the iDecisionGames platform.

These enhanced simulation packages are offered through the iDecisionGames platform, which also provides video-chat functions for students to negotiate with each other, and also allows the instructors to provide grades and feedback. Check out the full PON library of enhanced simulation packages on the iDecisionGames platform here.

Is your school or institution moving to remote learning formats? What exercises have worked well for you in online courses? Please leave us a comment with your feedback.

Take your training to the next level with the TNRC

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including

Most TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes— for use in college classrooms or corporate training settings. TNRC cases and exercises help mediators and facilitators introduce their clients to a process or issue and help individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.

Role-play simulations introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Videos are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts, and TNRC books, case studies, and periodicals address the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >> 

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
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