6. Make friends with a theory [90 mins]

Cheryl Reynolds

The session is a play test of a game that develops the ability to use learning theory in curriculum design. All players receive a card. Red cards describe teaching challenges, yellow describe types and levels of learners, green are learning theories and blue are practical teaching and learning strategies. Those holding the green cards explain their theory (behaviourism, cognitivism, social constructivism or humanism) to the group. The cards contain enough information to enable them to do so without any pre-existing knowledge of the theory. Those holding red, yellow or blue cards listen and ask themselves which theory or theories might best match the card they are holding. The players must then form themselves into ‘friendship groups’ with one card of each colour. If the total group size for the session is not a multiple of four, some players must pair up to share a card and ‘travel together.’ In this way, everyone in the room is able to participate in the game. It has been successfully used with groups of between 16 and 32 players. Islands of tables with 6 or so chairs per island to facilitate moving around between groups and small-group discussion work well but chairs that are moveable into small circles of 4-6 without tables would also be suitable.

Competing requests to pair with a theory provide productive opportunities to discuss the theory and its potential applications and to negotiate best fit. However, the referee must be strict in enforcing the ‘one card of each colour’ rule during this phase and can intervene to help players to resolve negotiations. The phases of the game are strictly timed but the timing can be adjusted to suit the length of time available in the session. Once formed into groups, each group must formulate and deliver a short pitch that describes the nature of the teaching challenge, the type and level of learner involved, the theoretical approach adopted and the strategies to be employed. Whilst some combinations are more convincing than others, there are no predetermined ‘best matches,’ and players in previous iterations have shown themselves to be resourceful in making novel links. The pitches provide excellent opportunities to evaluate different theoretical approaches.

Points are awarded by the referee for mentioning every card in the friendship group, for suggesting additional, congruent strategies and for every vote that a group obtains from the other groups. Game-play is supported by a PowerPoint presentation that displays the rules of play and the point system. Plenary questions that explore the link between theory and practice are provided to draw out the key learning points of the game. This has proved to be a simple, productive and enjoyable game for educationalists and has proved successful in overcoming scepticism around the use-value of learning theory, enabling participants to engage with it in a fun, interactive, low stakes and practical fashion.

9. Play-space and Psycho-social Energy: A reflexive relationship [90 mins]

Jo A. Tyler

This session will provide participants with insights into the ways in which play shifts the energy of psycho-social spaces occupied by groups engaged in learning and work.

Central Underpinning Theory:
This session draws on a broad definition of play that includes presentational or expressive knowing (Heron, 1999; Heron & Reason, 1997; Kasl & Yorks, 2006; Yorks & Kasl, 2012). The session engages participants in three experiential rounds of play punctuated by periods of individual and collective reflection. With their ideas of presentational knowing Heron & Reason turn our gaze to an epistemic process that supports deeper understanding and meaning making from our experience. They describe that this way of knowing “is evident in an intuitive grasp of the significance of our resonance with and imaging of our world, as this grasp is symbolized in graphic, plastic, musical, vocal and verbal art-forms (1997, 281). It is not a far leap to consider the production of these “symbolized” expressions as a form of play. This is the lens we will adopt for the session.

Session Design:
The 90 minute session will unfold as three rounds of play and reflection intended to help participants explore the way that energy of the psycho-social space inhabited by the group shifts as they increasingly engages in cycles of play. The session will open like a “typical” academic conference session with a standard kind of PowerPoint presentation. So as to be reflexive and relevant to the interests of the participants, the topic will be Heron’s theory of Ways of Knowing with an example of its application in strategic work for non-profits. After 8 minutes of presentation, we will shift to a facilitated pause/reflect in which we will explore the nature of the energy in the room, how people feel, and the source of the energy and feelings. This will begin individually with a 2-minute free-write, followed by a full-group conversation in which we will try to articulate the energetic character of the psycho-social space. The reflection will run approximately 12 minutes. This will constitute round one.

In the second round, the session attendees will switch to an active play mode where they will be invited to create some art connected to a prompt focused on their experience with play, thereby putting Heron’s theory of presentational knowing into action. After approximately 12 minutes, we will break for another reflective interlude – again individually through a 2-minute free-write followed by collective conversational learning. This reflection period will also run approximately 12 minutes.

The third round will bring participants into a paired collaboration in which they will engage with each other’s art in playful co-creation. After approximately 20 minutes, this will be followed by a final individual reflection. The closing conversation will be facilitated as a meta-reflection on participants thoughts and feelings about their experience of the arc of the session – what they noticed, what surprised them, what “take-away” they have, what they wish we could explore further etc. At the end of every round, participants will record one to two words or a phrase that characterizes the outcome of the round for them. These will be recorded on index cards color-coded for each round. These index cards will be read out by the participants in the form of a three-part collective poem as a form of closing. The presenter will then collect these cards for further consideration.

Heron, J. (1999). The complete facilitator’s handbook. London, England: Kogan Page. Heron, J. & Reason, P. (1997). A participatory inquiry paradigm. Qualitative Inquiry. 3(3), 274-294.
Kasl, E., & Yorks, L. (2012). Learning to be what we know: The pivotal role of presentational knowing in transformative learning. In E. Taylor & P. Cranton (Eds.), The handbook of transformative learning: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 503-519). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Yorks, L., & Kasl, E. (2006). I know more than I can say: A taxonomy for using expressive ways of knowing to foster transformative learning. Journal of Transformative Learning, 4(1), 43-64. doi:10.1177/1541344605283151

10. Workshop on Creating Games and Playful Interactions for Adult Learning in Public Spaces [90 mins]

Dan Barnard
Briscoe, R

In this workshop, which will itself be structured in the form of a game, participants will work in teams to create ideas for games and playful interactions to take place in public spaces and then go on to develop “paper prototypes” of these games. Teams will roll dice to decide the location, adult learning objectives or target groups and “technology” (in the broadest sense) of the game that they create. These restrictions help unleash creativity and encourage participants to move outside their comfort zone. Tasks will be time-limited and participants will practise describing their ideas to others and giving and receiving feedback. A version of this workshop has been previously piloted, where it received very positive feedback from participants and made possible collaborations that are now continuing.

Dan Barnard is Artistic Director of fanSHEN and a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance at London South Bank University. For fanSHEN Dan has collaborated with Rachel Briscoe to develop a strand of work called the Ministry of Remoldability, an ongoing project about how we think, hope and act for the future. It uses lo-fi, playful methods to explore big ideas in participatory settings. The Ministry has taken up residence at arts organisations, museums, festivals, conferences and other events. It has worked with artists professional and nonprofessional, human beings older and younger, and people who would prefer not to be categorised. Some projects are created in direct response to a certain event and others are a way of giving expression to something that one of us has been puzzling over for some time, in a variety of settings. Some of these projects, such as Plasticine Futures, have been developed specifically for adults while other activities have been developed for families to do together. fanSHEN’s other projects have included Tooting Field Days, a monthly event combining different indoor and outdoor playful activities with an environmental focus and Invisible Treasure, an interactive digital playspace meets theatre production exploring power and agency. At LSBU Dan researches interactive performance and ways of integrating play into higher education pedagogy.

11. Case History: card games for health and medical students [60 mins]

Claire Hamshire
Moseley, A.

Healthcare programmes traditionally recruit a diverse student population, and engaging students in activities that promote clinical reasoning can be challenging in a discipline where knowledge acquisition and practical skills dominate. Students can sometimes find it difficult to see the relevance of information to their own situations or to feel comfortable in discussing what can, at times, be difficult issues.

Therefore the underlying philosophy of this project is to design an active learning environment in which players could learn via discussion activities that test their understanding through application of knowledge to new contexts – effectively a constructivist learning perspective. Drawing on the work of Charlier (2013), Moseley (2013) and Hamshire & Forsyth (2013), the aim of this project is to use the medium of game play to provide opportunities to examine problematic issues within a ‘magic circle’ (Charlier, Ott et al., 2012 after Huizinger, 1938 and Salen & Zimmerman, 2003) We will pilot and test three simple card games, using the breadth and depth of medical imagery within the Wellcome Collection on game cards to spark interest, encourage dialogue and lead to critical inquiry during informal game play.

Initial development has already taken place through an informal collaborative partnership between staff at the two UK Universities and the Wellcome Collection, and basic pilot exercises within the Medical School at the University of Leicester and the Departments of Health Professions and Nursing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Prototypes of Case Histories and Diagnose Me were tested with groups of first and second year undergraduates and postgraduates: these served successfully as proof-of-concept checks, with high levels of positive student and staff feedback.

In this session participants will be able to try and discuss the games, and consider the use of games in healthcare programmes.

Game 1: Case Histories

Players need to work together as a group to present a ‘case-history’ using four cards. This game can be used as an ‘ice-breaker’ session for groups of up to 120 people. Cards contain a medical image, drawn from the Wellcome Collection, accompanied by a brief description of the image and one of four colours along the top edge. Each player is randomly allocated one card when the game begins and once all the players have a card they are instructed to introduce themselves to others in the room until they form a team of four players each with a different colour coded card. Teams then have a fixed time to make a meaningful ‘case-history’ and create a coherent description linking their cards into a medical narrative. Teams present their ‘case history’, and each player votes for the most coherent/persuasive history to determine the winning team.

Game 2: Diagnose Me

Players can either work on their own or in groups with a randomly allocated set of four cards – one each from the four game sets of: Anatomy, Symptom, Investigation and Treatment. Clinical reasoning is an essential skill that underpins diagnosis and management and is crucial for all health professionals. It is not a linear process, but an iterative process of linking information together to aid diagnosis and treatment. Using their clinical reasoning skills players develop a simple narrative that links their four cards together and then presents the diagnosis to the group.

Game 3: Cure!

A fast-paced game that introduces players to some of the core skills of making diagnoses on various diseases. Players work in teams to match up Disease, Characteristic, Transmission and Diagnosis cards to make a valid ‘cure’. When they have one, they call out ‘Cure!’ and put their completed set to one side and draw four fresh cards. All other teams have to add more cards to their existing set (making the diagnosis more difficult), and the game then continues until another ‘cure!’ occurs. Teams get higher points for more difficult cures (greater numbers of cards) and so teams can strategise to solve harder problems for more points, or go for quick wins. At the end of the game the validity of each cure is checked, and the overall points adjusted.

Charlier, N., De Fraine, B. (2013). “Game-based learning as a vehicle to teach first aid content: a randomized experiment.” in J Sch Health, 2013 Jul; 83(7):493-9.
Charlier, N., Ott, M., Remmelle, B., Whitton, N. (2012). “Not just for children: game-based learning for older adults”. Proceedings of the European Conference on Games Based Learning (2012), pp. 102–109 available online at http://gambaloa.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/charlier-20121.pdf. Accessed December 8th, 2015.
Hamshire, C. & Forsyth, R. (2013) “Contexts and Concepts: Crafty Ways to Consider Challenging Topics” in A. Moseley & N. Whitton eds. New Traditional Games for Learning: A Case Book. Routledge: New York.
Huizinga, J. (1971, originally published 1938). Homo Ludens. Paladin: London.
Moseley, A. (2013) “Dicing with Curricula: The Creation of a Board Game to Speed up the Course Creation Process” in A. Moseley & N. Whitton eds. New Traditional Games for Learning: A Case Book. Routledge: New York.
Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2003). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. The MIT Press.

12. ‘Explorer of the world’ playshops: Playspaces for creativity & learning in Citizen Science [90 mins]

Cindy Regalado
Charlene J.; Kloetzer, L

In this session we invite researchers, educators, and students to take part in an engaging activity, which we have called playshops, and then work as a group to learn and think about the ways the tools we have developed for evaluating creativity and learning can benefit their own work. The team will begin by briefly sharing the story of how the ‘Explorer of the World playshop series’ came to be: creative roots, theories, and rationale, their design, and implementation. We will engage in an outdoors playshop and end with an interactive discussion on the main themes from research and how these can apply to attendees’ own work. That is, the different ways that people can learn in a project, different ways of how to learn, different ways of being creative.

The ‘Explorer of the world playshops series’ (EoW) were developed and continue to be imparted through Citizens without Borders (CwB), a London-based citizen group founded in 2011. The purpose of the group is to create physical, intellectual, and emotional spaces that enable the exploration and extension of our comfort zones while building our capabilities – practically, experientially, philosophically, etc. They do this through activities that fuse the arts and sciences into the transactions of everyday life (Regalado, 2015b). Using mixed media (from action-cams to repurposed electronic equipment and scavenged finds) and approaches ranging from observation and rapid-prototyping to improvisation theatre these activities spark our imagination and (re)connect it with wonderment and exploration.

While there are many spaces where people can engage in hands-on learning and problem solving activities – or Do-It-Yourself (DIY) – such as FabLabs, hackspaces, and makerspaces, these spaces are often defined by strong cultures, identities, and manifestos (such as the ‘maker ethos’) that can be in themselves barriers to entry for people who know nothing or very little about DIY. The CwB approach aims to reduce barriers to engaging with DIY. Specifically, the EoW playshops provide the opportunities – as spaces (safe environments for learning and creativity) and resources (tools and techniques) – to learn, experiment and develop capacity in inquiry, exploration, and experimentation primarily through DIY methodologies in a playful and inviting manner (hence the name ‘playshops’). The playshops are delivered in a series of up to six bi-monthly two hour playshops that build on each other. That is, material and experience from one playshop is used in the next. This continuity provides the opportunity for participants to build relations with themselves and others and create environments that are welcoming to newcomers. The methodology for the playshops is adaptive and the goals for each playshop are achieved in unique and distinct ways reflecting the character, state of mind, and interactions of the participants. As Jacobson and Ruddy (2004) highlight, the greatest challenges of being open to outcome are first, resisting the temptation of imposing a particular learning outcome while secondly, remaining open to the direction of the group or individual players without losing focus of the experience and coming to no learning or reflection at all.

As part of our research on learning and creativity processes and outcomes we interviewed participants of playshops to understand more about their experiences (Jennett et al., Forthcoming). Our research showed that through playful, self-directed learning the most important ‘tools’ developed by participants were not DIY near-infrared cameras or kites for DIY aerial mapping but ‘courage’ and ‘self-trust’, which enabled them to engage in further exploration, curiosity, and experimentation (Regalado, 2015a). We found that creativity is central to the playshops’ activities: participants are encouraged to express themselves by creating artwork and through that ask questions about the world around them. One participant explained that he found playshops less intimidating, compared to science workshops, because there are no right or wrong answers in art and play. Another participant talked about how being with other people and having a shared experience helped him to see things in different ways and to elevate his creativity. We also found that playshop attendees found that having activities build up over time created space that allowed them to feel more comfortable with each other and to open themselves up to being creative.

For this session we will be facilitating a one hour-long outdoor activity. We will be asking attendees to engage in an activity involving inter- and intrapersonal exploration through spontaneous picture scavenger hunting to discover how we learn about ourselves, each other, and through that, about our surroundings. Specifically, individuals will be asked to take 5-8 pictures of things that call their attention in their natural/physical environment indoors or outdoors (10min); then pairing up, they will exchange cameras/phones to start a scavenging hunt for the their pair’s pictures (15 min); pairs meet back again to converse about their experiences (15min); we end with a reflective group session (15min). Attendees will be using the cameras on their phones but will also have some cameras available. As mentioned above, each playshop activity is unique, shaped by the character, state of mind, and interactions of the participants. Thus, dedicating time to reflection and experience sharing is essential. In previous playshops participants have reflected on different aspects of perspective, appreciation of the environment (the mundane becomes interesting), the element of surprise/curiosity, and the bond built between players. These are take-home lessons for people and directly linked to the playshop’s (flexible) objectives of, on the one hand, learning, sharing, and understanding in multiple – even new – ways, and engaging their creativity. After our first-hand experience we will take 30 minute to share our research findings and framework on creativity and learning and engage in an interactive discussion on how the activity, framing, and findings could apply to their own work. We think that this session would be particularly useful for those who teach both young and adult learners alike. It will also be of interest for those who would like to explore different ways of encouraging creativity and learning in their student groups and organisations.

Jacobson, M., & Ruddy, M. (2004). Open to outcome. Oklahoma City: Wood N Barnes. Jennett, C., Kloetzer, L., Cox, A. L., Schneider, D., Collins, E., Fritz, M., Bland, M. J., Regalado, C., Marcus, I., Stockwell, H., Francis, L., Rusack, E., and Charalampidis, I. (Forthcoming). Creativity in online citizen science: Interviews with volunteers of the Citizen Cyberlab pilot projects. Regalado, C. (2015). Getting out of their way: Do-It-Yourselfers, sensing, and self-reliance. In Participatory sensing, opinions and collective awareness. Eds: V. Loreto, M. Haklay, A. Hotho, V.D.P. Servedio, G. Stumme, J. Theunis, and Tria, F. Springer.
Regalado, C. (2015). Promoting playfulness in publicly initiated scientific research: for and beyond times of crisis. International Journal of Play, Taylor & Francis.

20. LEGO Serious Play in Higher Education: How? What for? Why? [90 mins]

Tobias Seidl
Zeiner, K. M.

LEGO-Serious-Play (LSP) is a facilitated communication and problem-solving process which is highly suitable for HE. By building and reflecting on LEGO-models participants probe deeper and deeper into a subject. We are using LSP as a teaching method while researching the underlying processes. Here we will provide insights into both.

Learning outcomes of the workshop:

  • The participants experience and reflect on the LEGO Serious Play-Method (LSP)
  • The participants understand the scientific background and working process of LSP
  • The participants know and discuss applications of LSP in Higher Education
  • The participants know empirical results on the appearance of flow in LSP workshops as well as one method to measure flow-experience in the ‘play’-process via a questionnaire
  • The participants enjoy the session

Agenda of the workshop:

  1.  Together we experience some LEGO Serious Play exercises and reflect on the experience
  2. The theoretical background and working process of LSP as well as its implications are presented
  3. Examples of the use of LSP in Higher Education are presented and discussed
  4. Study on flow-experience in LSP-sessions is presented
  5. We reflect on our experiences during the workshop


The method was initially developed by LEGO in cooperation with university researchers while searching for more effective ways to meet the increasingly complex and challenging demands of the business world. The core methodology of LSP has been made public for people and facilitators looking to benefit from utilizing this method. General goals of the method are:

  • Creating leaning-in and motivating participants to engage in the process
  • Unlocking new knowledge
  • Breaking habitual thinking

Today, the method is used in education, business and other contexts (for examples see the facilitator’s community http://seriousplaypro.com/). Within Higher Education it can be used by students and educators in situations such as:

  • Team building
  • Team reflection
  • Development of a shared understanding of complex (often abstract) concepts
  • Evaluation of the teaching process
  • Student counselling
  • Ideation

LEGO Serious Play and Flow

The LSP method is based on ideas/concepts from different fields of studies (cf. Kristiansen and Rasmussen 2014): the importance of play as a way to learn through exploration and storytelling; constructionism; the hand-mind connection as a new path for creative and expressive thinking; and the role of the different kinds of imagination. The core-working process of LEGO Serious play follows four steps:

  1. The Challenge/Posing the Question: A facilitator asks participants to build something
  2. The Building Phase/Construction: Participants build their individual models using LEGO-bricks
  3. The Sharing Phase: Participants share their model with others
  4. Questions and Reflections: The facilitator and participants summarize what was learned/discussed

The master trainers of the method claim that Flow (e.g.Csikszentmihali, 2009) develops while doing LSP (cf. Kristiansen and Rasmussen, 2014). Flow-experience describes an optimum state which is characterized by high focus, engagement, motivation, and immersion. A requirement for the development of flow is a balance between our competence and the challenge we face. While flow state is often discussed in context with LSP (and gaming in general), in-depth empirical evidence on the occurrence on flow in LSP sessions is still missing. Flow is especially interesting for HE because the results of Flow (goal directedness, a more positive approach to the process, higher quality of output, higher motivation) are the responses we want to elicit in our students when teaching our students. We are investigating the link between flow and LSP and have used the validated Flow Short Scale (Engesser et al, 2008) to measure flow experience in 8 LSP sessions (N=74). The results show that there is significant flow experience during LSP sessions.

The workshop is designed to not only discuss the applications of LSP in HE and the results of our study on the links to flow. It will also give participants a chance to experience the process itself – an approach that is fostering discussions about possible applications at our own institution.

Brandstätter, V. (2012). Allgemeine Psychologie für Bachelor: Motivation und Emotion. Berlin: Springer. Csikszentmihalyi , M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York, New York: Harper & Row.
Engesser, S. & Rheinberg, F. (2008). Flow, moderators of challenge-skill-balance and performance. Motivation and Emotion(32), pp. 158 – 172.
Kristiansen, P. & Rasmussen, R. (2014). Building a better business using the Lego serious play method. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

13. Inside the Black-box : Playing Digital Security [60 mins]

José Rogado
Sousa, C.; Costa, C.; Henriques, S.

As it has been extensively studied, games characteristics and design models, such as goal oriented tasks, rules, challenges and interactions, can be used to engage students and increase learning. They may also promote an emotional connection to the subject under study, providing opportunities for learning by doing.

In particular, when dealing with aspects related to our digital identities, we most often lack the necessary technical skills, which prevents us to autonomously manage our digital security. In fact, in this field, we often consider technology as a black-box lurking on the background of our lives, rarely being aware of the various ways it can be used for securing our digital identities.

In our 60 minutes workshop, the theoretical principles set out above will be combined with an hands-on approach, proposing a playful activity to the participants, with the goal of explaining the basics of encryption and the fundamental role it plays in today’s digital presence. First, a few generic principles will be presented, demonstrating how a simple encryption algorithm, called the Caesar’s Cipher, can be used to encrypt short sentences. The Caesar Cipher is a very simple mono-alphabetic cipher that consists in shifting the letters of the plain text. The shift order and direction form the secret or encryption key. This algorithm can be implemented using a very simple hand-made cardboard artifact: the Cipher Wheel, which consists of two concentric circles, each one with a printed alphabet, that can be manually rotated and assume all the possible 25 different positions/secrets.

The Cipher Wheel has been used in similar activities in the context of the “Games for Media and Information Literacy Learning” research project (Gamilearning – UTAP-ICDT/IVC-ESCT/0020/2014), which addresses the need for student awareness in managing their digital identities with game play and production. The project explores the way that the game analysis and production supports a wide range of media literacy and learning skills.

In the proposed workshop, several Cipher Wheels will be distributed to the participants. who will then be invited to organize themselves into two groups, the messengers and the intruders. The messengers will be divided between senders and receivers, which will sit at opposite parts of the room, with intruders sitting in between. Senders and receivers will then privately agree on a secret number, which will be the key for the Cipher Wheel encoding and, obviously, never to be disclosed to the intruders. The main goal of this activity will be to exchange encrypted messages between senders and receivers, using the agreed secret and the Cipher Wheel. These messages will be forwarded through the intruders, who will try to sneak into the conversation, exploring various possible secrets with their Cipher Wheels, or using whatever other strategies they can imagine to break the secret code. Overall, this playing part of the workshop is planned to take approximately 45mn. At the end, an interactive reflection of approximately 15mn will be held, analysing the flaws of the encryption utilised, how it can be improved and explaining how more complex algorithms are used by networked systems to promote digital security in real life scenarios.

The situations depicted in the activity will be linked to actual threats to which individuals’ digital identities are exposed on the Internet, highlighting the essential role that encryption plays on their protection. The heuristics of the approach followed by the participants during the playful experience will also be discussed following an action research approach, in order to evaluate if and how it promoted their awareness on digital security. At the end of this workshop the participants will have acquired a good experience on the pedagogical capabilities of games, and the way they can promote their digital identity management literacy.

23. Playful Urban Learning Space – An Indisciplinary Collaboration [30 mins]

Clive Hotham
Bech, T.

Participants first undertake and document a short playful group activity within the building, and report back on their findings. Participants then undertake a second dialogic activity. Finally the session leader will review how this wholly artful and playful approach has provided interesting insights about complex and ambiguous business contexts.

The activities to be sampled in Manchester were developed out of an unusual collaboration between a business school and a fine art practitioner, supported by a Creative Entrepreneur in Residence funding scheme. The artist explored the intersection between business and art. She then designed and implemented an installation, focussing on the design of a new business school building, under the heading of “playful urban learning space”. The term indisciplinary was also used to highlight that this was not bounded by conventional silos such as art or social science.

Historically, play has been an important dimension in management education, not least at the strategic level where roleplaying simulations, most particularly in the form of military war games, have centuries of tradition. During the 20th century, the formalisation and accreditation of management education, shifted the centre of gravity from embodied activities to cognitive ones. There are several parallel strands on the importance of play in a business school.

  • Play is an important ingredient in learning lifelong. It is essential to prepare for the “live” world through practice and rehearsal, which is very much part of the domain of play. Learners can and must make mistakes, and again play provides a rich context for learning by mistake.
  • Business schools are concerned with the future. The future is unknown but it is also waiting to be created. Generating future options that have never existed in the past can be supported by play.
  • Creative processes are a particular case of new futures, and play can perform a central role in personal creativity and in corporate innovation.

Post world war 2, there has been a vast overemphasis on rational processes, which have in general served business well at an operational level for many decades. A domination of rationality at the strategic levels has, however, been a major cause of the business crashes and other leadership disasters. There is now a growing movement to redress the current imbalance between the rational and intuitive aspects of management. This is an area in which thinking influenced by the arts and humanities have an important role. It is also essential to promote imaginative and critical thinking, and we can expect processes of play to be important within this.

In this case reported, there was not only an interest in play for learning, it was also seen as an alternative route to the production of new knowledge, particularly in the area of ideation in the context of planning for unpredictable futures. In Sutton-Smith’s book on play. It is argued: This work reveals more distinctions and disjunctions than affinities, with one striking exception: however different their descriptions and interpretations of play, each rhetoric reveals a quirkiness, redundancy, and flexibility. In light of this, Sutton-Smith suggests that play might provide a model of the variability that allows for natural selection. As a form of mental feedback, play might nullify the rigidity that sets in after successful adaption, thus reinforcing animal and human variability.

The final sentence is very profound as it implies that play provides the key “slack” individuals and societies need to adapt and indeed survive.

15. Super “Game Design Using MDA Model and the Elemental Tetrad” Turbo II [90 mins]

Simon Grey
Purdy, J

The session will begin with an exercise in game theory supported by socrative in which one participant can win a fabulous prize. Following there will be a discussion of strategy linking with the MDA model for game design and the four elements of game design. This can also be linked to research concerning the potential negative impact of extrinsic motivators backed up with data collected from students.

Next a basic set of game mechanics will be proposed for a game entitled “GLSiG War!”. In GLSiG War players make a sealed bid for a face down card. The highest unique bid wins. When all cards are distributed they are turned over to reveal a number. The player with the highest total wins.

After playing the game for a couple of rounds participants will be challenged to iteratively improve the game in a series of “planning-play-through” phases by changing elements of the four elements of game design, or by changing the mechanics. Any changes can be made including but not limited to changing the title of the game, making private information public, adding elements of skill or chance, adding more narrative.

Following 3 “planning-play-through” phases one participant from each group will take their game to be tested on a different group. Participants be asked to report back on what dynamics emerged as a result of the changed mechanics, and what emotional aesthetic the players experienced. This session is suitable for ages 0-99 who are interested in developing engaging games and able to adopt a lusory attitude.

16. The Helpless and The Masters: A Subversive Game for Personal Growth [60 mins]

Nick Degens
Braad, E.

In this playful workshop we aim to let participants experience how different learning orientations influence the learning process. To achieve this aim, we will use an existing game and add different instructions for different groups, a-priori training and a debriefing to introduce people to the aforementioned concepts. Our goal is to explore the relations between gameplay, the learning process, and the (personal development/growth of the) learner.

The Theory

Learning through play has been the focus of much research over the past few decades. However, limited attention has been given to the learning process itself and addressing individual differences between learners. An important aspect of this learning process is the learning orientation adopted by a learner in a specific situation. Learning orientation refers to the goal-orientation that a learner adopts towards achieving the learning goals. In this proposal we will characterise learning orientation as lying between performance orientation, i.e. seeking to perform and avoid failure and negative feedback, and mastery orientation, i.e. seeking to learn and use failure and negative feedback to improving learning. In this workshop, we will explore the role of adopting a specific learning orientation in playing styles and learning outcomes.

The Game

In the workshop, participants will have to construct simple buildings using a set of different geometrically shaped wooden blocks (gameplay is based on the board game ‘Ugg-Tect’). During the construction, the group leader has to communicate with his or her group members through the use of a mock-language that helps his or her group members to identify certain shapes and orientations. The overall goal of the game is to compete with another group to construct a certain amount of buildings in the shortest time. The mechanics of the game allows for a wide range of approaches to constructing the buildings; a group could take a slower approach by first trying to come to a common understanding of the mock-language, or they could take a faster approach, more error-prone, by trying to finish each building as soon as possible. These approaches roughly correspond with different learning orientations, from a mastery orientation to a performance orientation. An important question is thus: how do people learn to play this game in an optimal manner?

The Workshop

The workshop will have the following flow: we will divide the participants into groups, with one group focused on a performance-oriented playing style, and the other group focused on a mastery-oriented playing style – these concepts and the underlying theory are not addressed in these sessions. Participants will be briefed and instructed beforehand to ensure that they adopt the appropriate learning orientation.

The Debriefing

After playing the game for a few rounds, we intend to highlight a few important topics as part of a debriefing/mini-presentation. The goal of this session is to introduce players to the different orientations and relate their behaviour to different learning theories. Some topics that we will discuss in this session are:

  • A (theoretical) background on…
    • Different learning orientations and their role in learning processes;
    • The relationship between knowledge acquisition, metacognition, and learning orientation; o The creation of social norms (through building shared mental models).
  • A debriefing looking back at…
    • The behaviour of the players in the game;
    • How differences in learning orientation can lead to frustration and uncooperative behaviour in groups of learners;
    • How awareness of one’s own and others’ learning orientations may improve cooperation and a more ‘smooth’ learning process.
  • We’ll end with some tips for…
    • Designing games/tutorials for personal growth and development;
    • Adapting games based on individual needs to ensure more effective learning;
    • Working together with people that have different learning orientations.

17. Can games help creative writing students to collaborate on story-writing tasks? [30 mins]

David Jackson

Story writing is a complex semantic and creative task, and the difficulty of managing it is made greater by attempting to write in collaboration with others. This complication can deter students from experimenting with collaboration before mastering their own practice, in relative privacy. Such reticence is in spite of the fact that there are many clear benefits to collaboration. These include peer support and feedback for the student on their practice (Leach 2014, Vygotsky 1978), and the development of collaborative skills and experiences that are easily transferable to a range of creative contexts in future (Ravetz et al 2014).

Specially designed games have the potential to help to facilitate collaboration, by making the difficulty of telling a story as a group part of the game’s challenge. A playful approach to problems (Schell 2008) inherent in gameplay can actively mitigate a sense of risk (Bateson 2006) and mark the act of playing as a positive formative experience of collaboration. Limitations reduce task complexity too. Players have the opportunity to become familiar with each other’s collaborative working styles in an environment controlled by the game’s rules.

However, the quality of the text players produce by playing is important to the longer-term role of such games in creative writing classrooms. If games cannot produce meaningful stories it is unlikely that participants will wish to continue playing them at the cost of their normal creative practice.

This paper shares research from my PhD thesis showing how my specially designed digital games helped creative writing students collaborate more easily. It makes reference to a collective case study of play-testing sessions with degree-level participants where the majority had never collaborated on a creative writing project before. In the case study, students report that games do promote a sense of teamwork between them and other participants. They also provided opportunity for self-reflection in a way that is relatively unique to collaborative practice (John-Steiner 2000). Finally a summary of the feedback from an expert panel on the quality of stories shows the effect of game rules on the quality and meaningfulness of the story created.

The paper provides us with a springboard to discuss what a story is when it is produced by a classroom game. Is it protean artform or something else? And what is its relationship to other learning outputs? Should a story made by a game be formally assessed? And if not, why not?

Bateson, G. (2006) ‘A Theory of Play and Fantasy.’ In Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (eds) The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
John-Steiner, V. (2000) Creative Collaboration. Oxford University Press. Leach, H. (2013) ‘Writing Together: Groups and Workshops.’ In Graham, R., Newall, H. and Leach, H. (eds) The Road to Somewhere: A Creative Writing Companion. Palgrave Macmillan.
Ravetz, A., Kettle, A. and Felcey, H. (2013) Collaboration through Craft. A&C Black.
Schell, J. (2008) The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. Taylor & Francis Group.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

18. Crafting Creative Learning: Introducing Minecraft into undergraduate and postgraduate learning [60 mins]

Joel Mills

Minecraft is a sandbox game that allows players to dig, place and craft1m3 building blocks to create worlds of infinite possibility. With over 100 million downloads across platforms and devices the game has reached a lot of people. This workshop explores how Minecraft has been used at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to deliver aspects of the curriculum in the playful, sandbox game. From Project Management to Proteins, Archaeology to Archives, Minecraft has provided new learning and failing opportunities through creative play. The workshop will showcase 3 of the worlds created by the University of Hull as part of the taught curriculum. Each world uses a different approach to playful creativity in Higher Education and highlights the differences between Game Based Learning (GBL) and gamification of learning. Participants will be able to experience building their own ideas in MinecraftEDU as a starting point for their own curriculum delivery as well as experiencing “life in Minecraft” and how it can start conversations in learning. The 3 worlds created by the University will then be opened for participants to explore and through their own playful experience in Minecraft begin to see opportunities within their own curriculum areas.

You do not need a laptop to see Minecraft in action and how it has been used in the university of Hull. For people wishing to take part in the “play” aspect of Minecraft, they will need to bring a suitable laptop:

The workshop is a Bring Your Own Device event and the workshop hosts will provide trial copies of MinecraftEDU for the participants to use on the day on a returnable USB key. Client laptops must be of minimum specifications below:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 or AMD Athlon II (K10) 2.8 GHz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • GPU: GeForce 2xx Series or AMD Radeon HD 5xxx Series (Excluding Integrated Chipsets) with OpenGL 3.3
  • HDD: 1GB
  • Latest release of Java 8 from java.com
  • You will need to be running Windows 7 or higher. Mac OSX 10.10 or higher.

Please note, that there will be very limited technical support at the workshop, so it is up to participants to ensure their devices meet the minimum requirements prior to attending the event.

19. Gamifying induction for online students [30 mins]

Osman Javaid

The department of Psychology at MMU are now in the second year of running a very successful online masters degree, with over 150 professionals studying on the programme this year, many of who are part time and study around busy professional lives. Although the majority complete the course successfully, a common concern of tutors is that students often underestimate the time needed to successfully complete the course, which leads to difficulties down the line. There is evidence to support the claim that a clear induction strategy for online students increases retention and progression.

An online resource is currently in development that focuses on the first two stages of Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model, designed to give students an introduction to the online environment and set out expectations of study time. Students will also be directed to further knowledge on study skills, health and well-being etc. when needed.

The user of the resource will follow a fictional character through a typical day on the programme in question. The story follows the events of ‘Sarah’ and her struggles to keep up with the demands of the programme and maintain her own social life, including looking after her young son Jack. Sarah will need to learn how to navigate the online learning environment, how to access support, where to find information on writing skills, as well as completing assignments on time, all with maintaining her personal life! Each activity she completes uses up her time in the day, if she doesn’t know where to find the unit handbook or how to participate in forum discussions then she might not be able to attend her friends party, or miss Jack’s doctors appointment! The objective is to make sure Sarah is able to complete all her programme commitments and have a personal life. Too much time on going to parties and you won’t have time for this week’s webinar. Doing too much studying could stress Sarah as she’s not able to spend enough time with Jack. The trick is to find a balance. Don’t worry, you’ll find fellow students, tutors and as well as cups of coffee along the way to help you on your journey…

There will be various points of reflection, where students are asked to think about their own context and to plan ahead. The aim is to encourage the student to reflect on the emotional challenges of learning, and to further develop student skills. As part of a broader induction process, students will be encouraged to share these reflections to aid in creating an online community for the programme.

The conference session will cover the background to the development of the resource and the pedagogy behind it, followed by sharing lessons learned. A playtest of the latest version will then follow and participants and will be invited to share feedback.