Disclaimer: The following story, photos, and accompanying items are fictionalized and are part of Saint Leo University’s Alternate Reality Learning Experience (ARLE). The events described did not occur. The characters are fictional and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
Last year the University implemented an interactive learning mechanism known as the Alternative Reality Learning Experience, or the ARLE. The ARLE simulated an election, and was very successful, with many students actively participating. Because of this success, the University has decided to make the simulation larger this year.
This year there will be two separate ARLE events. One, titled The Presidency will keep the political inspiration of the previous year, while the other, titled the Trial of the Century, focuses on a fictional criminal case. Both simulations will feature many different departments and programs across campus. The purpose behind these simulations is to allow students to start using the skills they have learned in college in a way that is closely related to the professional world.
According to Mr. Frank Orlando, instructor of political science, the ARLE features more than 100 students this year, which is an increase from the past year’s student participation.
“An ARLE represents real-world tasks, authentic assessment, and the most meaningful collaboration found in a university setting,” said Dr. Jeff Borden, the University’s chief innovation officer.
Because the ARLE is intended to instruct students about the real world, those involved are very focused on making it a believable experience.
“This year…we want another level of reality; we want the students to be even more immersed in the process,” said Orlando.
The Presidency has already begun, while the Trial of the Century begins on Sept. 27. Both students and faculty are excited to participate in the simulations.
“The ARLE is beneficial for our students, and I’m excited for another go-round this year,” said Orlando. “Last year, we laid the foundation, and this year, we’re hoping to take this to a new level of verisimilitude for our students. They want to improve on the fine job the group did last year, and in so doing, they are going to learn valuable and practical lessons about how campaigns work.”
While students are excited for the opportunities presented in the ARLE, the faculty are also looking forward to being involved.
“I like the ARLE because it gives my students a feel for the relevance of what they’re doing,” said Dr. Cheryl Clauson, assistant professor of biology. “Instead of just going through the motions of the lab activity, and then writing up a report on it, they see an important endpoint of their work. If they make a mistake in a lab report, they might lose a few points here or there, but if they make a mistake with evidence in a trial, they could send an innocent person to jail [or to a mock conviction in the ARLE].”
Almost 400 people viewed the final debate in last year’s ARLE, with about 200 people in physical attendance and the rest viewing from online. Those involved in the ARLE this year are hoping for an even higher turnout for this year’s events.
The vice presidential debate for The Presidency will take place on Oct. 3 while the presidential debate will take place on Nov. 7. The Trial of the Century will take place on Nov. 4 and 5.
The image below of the visual disclaimer will appear on all ARLE fictional articles for the Trial of the Century, so that readers will recognize that the articles they are reading are part of the fictional story line for the ARLE.