2019 Adventures into Playful Learning Presentations

Designing a Sociological Board Game to Teach Research Methods
Sally Brown
(10 minute presentation)

Having attended a workshop on ‘designing a sociological board game’ at a Sociology Review sponsored conference last year, it struck me that this could be a really engaging way to teach research methods. I designed an exercise for tutorials on research methods whereby thinking about the research process in terms of game mechanisms would help students to understand the process and develop a checklist for their assessments.

In this presentation I will discuss some of the challenges in using board games as a teaching tool, including some of the feedback from students.

Key literature
The Sociological Review event Make Your Own Sociological Research Game held on Monday 11 March 2019, Salford (Mediacity UK)

LEGO Café: Let’s Build a Learning Community
Laura Ennis and Steve Yorkstone
(3 minute presentation)

Trying something new can be scary. Often it helps to float ideas with friendly colleagues before taking the leap and branching out. We created our monthly LEGO Café as a space where academic and professional staff could come together to experiment with how to incorporate playfulness into their work. So far we have used LEGO to explore how we; welcome new students, engage with physical spaces, use emotions during play, and use different approaches to teaching and research.

Come to our talk to hear about why we created an informal learning community of practice centred on the use of toys and games (especially LEGO) in higher education. Are you brave enough?

Key literature
Blair, S. & Rillo, M. (2016). Serious work: How to facilitate meetings & workshops using the Lego Serious Play method. London: Promeet.

Play-full Nursing Pedagogy: Adventures in Authentic Learning
Dr Richard G Kyle, Dr Catherine Mahoney, Fiona Bastow and Trisha Jeram
(10 minute presentation)

Nursing curricula are frequently criticised for didactic learning approaches and being filled with content. In this presentation we draw on the notion of ‘fuller geographies’ as an ethos practiced at the nexus of academic, activist, participatory and public spaces to propose fuller – not filled – nursing curricula. We share our adventures in authentic learning through drama to explore how fuller nursing curricula can take shape to meet one strategy at the heart of the fuller geographies ‘communifesto’: to ‘foster an ethic of care and respect for each other: participate and reciprocate in our interactions’. In November 2017 student nurses following a Bachelor/Master of Nursing (BN/MN) programme formed a drama group. Six students performed a play ‘Mad, Bad, Invisible’ that told the story of a woman experiencing mental health crisis as she tried (and failed) to receive care and support from a range of health and social care services. Following public performance, the video-recorded play and associated educational materials, including cartoons, were incorporated into a module focussed on health and social care integration in the BN/MN programme. Student nurse performers noted that involvement had been a ‘highly meaningful’ learning experience that enabled them to ‘explore a different perspective’ and ‘get a glimpse’ into the world of people for whom they care. Students engaging with module materials noted it was ‘novel’, ‘innovative’ and ‘relevant’. Following this innovation, one student actor has scripted a second play, ‘Sad, Old, Invisible’ that will be performed in Summer 2019. Authentic learning enabled student nurses to engage in the praxis of care as an embodied and emplaced act that sits at the core of their educational experience and emerging professional identity and for students and academics to care for and with each other to find commonality and community as learners.

Key literature
Askins, K. and Mason, K. (2016) Fuller geographies and the care-ful co-production of transgressive pedagogies, or ‘Who Cares?’. In: Springer, S., deSouza, M. L. and White, R. J. (eds.) The Radicalization of Pedagogy: Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt. Series: Transforming capitalism. Rowman & Littlefield International: London.

Using LEGO to Encourage Participation and Reflection
Jane Wilkinson
(3 minute presentation)

In this snapshot, I would like to present my experiences of introducing LEGO-building activities into two classroom settings in The Business School at Edinburgh Napier University: a beginners’ German language class and a seminar for the first-year module ‘Intercultural Organisational Management’. Having previously used LEGO successfully in another institution, I was keen to add some variety to seminars, to appeal to more visual and kinaesthetic learners and to encourage quieter, less confident students to participate in discussions. Linking my observations of my own students’ creative engagement with LEGO-building activities to the wider phenomenon of LEGO Serious Play used in both corporate training and educational settings, I will reflect on the benefits of using LEGO in the classroom.

Key literature
James A. (2015) Learning in Three Dimensions: Using Lego Serious Play for Creative and Critical Reflection Across Time and Space. In: Layne P., Lake P. (eds) Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education, vol 11, pp.275-294

Role Play in French Negotiation Language Skills
Christine Penman
(10 minute presentation)

This presentation will report on a Level 10 module focusing on advanced French language skills for business negotiation in which 50% of the assessment is based on a negotiation role play designed by each individual student. The module offers a long lead to this assessment with a series of business case studies and interpretation scenarios aiming to build up exposure to business vocabulary and content. At the end of the trimester students base their own negotiation scenario and role play on a report in which they investigate a particular company and service to be offered on the French market. The presentation will discuss how these role plays (which have been singled out by several external examiners as good practice) aim to promote a cooperative approach to active learning with a focus on employability. It will include reflections on current practice and possible enhancements, with comments from students recently involved in this module.

Key literature
Poitras, J, Stimec, A. and Hill, K. (2013). Fostering student engagement in negotiation role plays. Negotiation Journal 29(4), pp439-461.

Gamification: A Lecturer Perspective
Dr Janis MacCallum
(3 minute presentation)

I was lucky enough to find time to attend a workshop on gamification of formative assessment run by Errol Riviera, one of our PhD students who is exploring gamification of assessment with a particular focus on formative assessment. During the workshop I explored ways to improve the formative assessment associated with one of the elements of coursework in my fourth-year module (Cellular and Molecular Immunology). Being led through this complex and inter-related framework was an immersive and challenging process, since the element of my coursework I wished to influence was topic choice, and how students apply self-regulated behaviour in order to react to rules or goals. The experience allowed me to change my approach to help students make easier topic choices by way of structured slides and examples, based on a colour approach (source game being Trivial Pursuit). This short snapshot will report on this experience, the impact of the changes made and where I would like to take this in future.

Key literature
Pintrich, P.R. (2004) “A conceptual framework for assessing motivation and self-regulated learning in college students”. Educational Psychology Review. 16:4, pp385-407.

Making Public Engagement Playful
Dawn Smith
(3 minute presentation)

Academic research is highly valued within our universities, but also has a legitimate place outside the academy. To make sure that it is accessible and that a range of publics are able to be partners in research public engagement practitioners and researchers use a range of games and activities. In public engagement we use a range of methodologies to make sure that research is accessible.

Using games and play in public engagement has been one of the foundations of science communication and working with different publics, particularly young people. The tabletop game is a cornerstone of any science festival and tends to be a first step for researchers (Lean, 2018). Similarly, citizen science has embraced gamification as a form of participatory research (Spitz et al, 2017). Using physical play, including street games can work well with participants who are initially reluctant to engage with research or a related activity (Wendler and Shuttleworth, 2019).

Playful learning allows us as researchers and practitioners to bring difficult ideas to participants. Ideas that might be divisive or sensitive to discuss in more traditional forms of research dissemination can be challenged and explored more thoroughly: ‘Games offer people the agency to experiment with decisions in a safe space’ (Wendler and Shuttleworth, 2019).

Bringing together highly complex research to different audiences who may not be familiar with the academic area, or even the concept of higher education or research is challenging. Using gamification processes which are universally understood and have no requirement for a background in the academic area, an understanding of jargon or possibly even the same language can open up new collaborations between researchers and communities.

Key literature
Lean, J., Illingworth, S., and Wake, P. (2018). Unhappy families: using tabletop games as a technology to understand play in education. Research in Learning Technology, 26. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v26.2027

Spitz, R., Pereira Jr., C., Queiroz, F., Leite, L., Dam, P., Ferranti, M., Kogut, R., and Oliveira, W. (2017)
Gamification, citizen science and civic engagement: in search of the common good. BALANCE-UNBALANCE 2017 – A Sense of Place.- [Arts + Sciences x Technology = Environment / Responsibility] Conference

Wendler, J. and Shuttleworth, E.L. (2019) ‘Downpour! – Flood risk communication through interactive immersive street games’. Research for All, 3 (1): 18–24. DOI https://doi.org/10.18546/RFA.03.1.03

Building Learning Communities Through Building in a Virtual World (Minecraft)
Louise Drumm
(20 minutes)

Drawing on the workshops during the research and teaching day, this session will explore how the ‘LEGO-like’ building functions of Minecraft can allow users to manipulate their environment, thereby developing skills in design and creativity. Doing so collaboratively necessitates communication and co-operation, enabling the building of social presence and relationships, an area notoriously difficult to achieve in distance and online learning. By working through tasks as novices, the workshop participants experienced what it is like to be a beginner learner and the dis-ease and emotional responses this can create in the individual. Mistakes are inevitable and wholly necessary to learn how to use the various tools in Minecraft. The 3D environment also prompts questions around accessibility and inaccessibility, including how some digital technologies can be disadvantageous for some while inclusive for others. Lessons from the workshops will be shared, including what it was like to learn, collaborate and ‘fail’ in an unfamiliar environment and how this could inform planning and design of learning for students. It will end with a short plenary discussing experiences, drawing on all the sessions during the day.

Key literature
Sharples, M., De Roock, R., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Koh, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Looi, C.-K., Mcandrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M. and Wong, L. H. (2016) Innovating Pedagogy 2016 Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.20677.04325.