Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Being creative with beach balls, Lego and marbles in our classrooms

Creative methods of teaching are impacting on how subjects are taught in our universities. A learner’s level of engagement with a subject can be enhanced through playful and creative techniques in the classroom. UL’s Kemmy Business School librarian, Peter Reilly, explored some new creative teaching techniques at a three-day playful learning conference in Manchester.
On arrival conference delegates were required to play a marble run game, presenting a creative challenge which delegates collaborated on throughout the conference. On the final day it was quite a feat of engineering and ingenuity. A pulley sytem constructed from some pens, sticky tape and string raised the marble to a zip wire contraption from where it was launched. The marble run set the tone for the 3 days, because it served as an ice breaker initially and engaged delegates’ imagination and sparked their innovation for problem solving.
Beach balls, Lego and marbles used in workshops

Peter won a national CONUL Teaching and Learning Award for his creative approaches to teaching and he delivers classes and workshops in Research methods and Information & Digital Literacy topics to students at the Kemmy Business School at UL. Students in Peter’s classes play literacy games called “Stop The Bus” and “Picture This” which are repurposed as reflective tools emphasising the importance of adopting a holistic rather than analytical approach to research.

About Playful Learning Conference

Organisers Alex Moseley and Nicola Whitton of the Games & Learning Special Interest Group (GLSIG)  were inspired after visiting the Counterplay festival of ideas in Aarhus Denmark.  They took a risk by hosting an unconventional multidisciplinary conference, attracting academics, librarians, learning technologists, artists and students from UK, Europe and the US, interested in adult learning through play, creativity, and games.  

The diversity of keynote speakers encompassing an Artist, Librarian, Educationalist was both inspiring and energising. Artist Nikki Pugh reflected on a decade of public projects and the power of stories which come alive once individuals have space to tell their own or create new ones. Rosie Jones, Director of Library Services at the Open University focused on integrating play into the everyday, as a strategy for encouraging individuals to express their own creativity. It’s important to explain to participants the benefits of playing a game. Her session appeared quite chaotic with attendees making paper hats and lobbing beach balls around, but was great fun. She explained that beach balls were great for breaking down silos.
The final speaker Karen Lawson an Educationalist and Scottish Government advisor quoted Foucault’s “Order of Things”, and discussed the importance of having dangerous ideas which affect someone else. Individuals should take risks by going where the energy is, and hopefully others will follow them. She explained the purpose behind the Emporium of Dangerous ideas which encourages thinking differently about  education.
Other notable workshops included Lego serious play, Minecraft, Augmented Reality, integrating games as a collaborative tool in creative writing, and how play can change the energy where we work and learn.

Here is the playful learning blog.  

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