Designing Tabletop Exercises as a Knowledge-Building Tool in Nuclear Security

Yara Shaban - Royal Scientific Society
Almuntaser Albluwi - Royal Scientific Society

Tabletop Exercises (TTXs) are used to engage participants in collective thinking and decision-making by assigning roles and responsibilities and promoting discussion. This tool has a long history in wargaming and is an established tool used in emergency response and military strategic thinking. Nowadays, it is also utilised in nuclear security education and capacity building to present complex scenarios with multiple actors and allow participants to negotiate the outcomes of different decisions. The design of TTXs usually involves the use of maps, background information, a storyline, multiple injects in the storyline for decision making and assigned roles and responsibilities within one or more teams. This paper argues that practitioners and educators alike could benefit from designing TTXs as a knowledge-building tool to enhance nuclear security awareness. Knowledge-building tools are educational mediums that could take multiple formats as straightforward as papers and as complex as multi-user software to support the development of learners’ ideas and learning progression. The current designs of TTXs are usually done to communicate information and often explore pre-determined decision-making scenarios. However, TTXs could also be designed to allow learners and instructors to work together to build, advance, and refine their knowledge as part of a community. The changing landscape of nuclear security and thus nuclear security education prompts us to think of tools that can adapt to new information and new insights from the learners. In this paper, we will first expand on how TTX can be adapted as a knowledge-building tool and clarify the mechanisms that allow for knowledge building. We then introduce general design considerations that facilitate this goal for nuclear security. Finally, we provide examples of how we implemented these design considerations in designing TTXs for awareness-raising training.