BookPDF Available

Abstract and Figures

This booklet is a practical guide; it brings together the thoughts and experiences of the editors and colleagues across the UK who use LEGO bricks, or the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method to develop student learning, academic and professional practice and research. It has been produced as a resource for academic developers and others who would like to start using such approaches in their own higher education contexts but need some additional ideas. While it celebrates the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® approach it makes a clear distinction between this method and other activities inspired by its principles and practices. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has territory in common with other creative methodologies which also use materials, metaphor and story. Suggestions are made as to how such other activities may be intertwined with the use of LEGO.
Content may be subject to copyright.
LEGO® for University Learning:
Inspiring Academic Practice in
Higher Education
Chrissi Nerantzi & Alison James
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
LEGO® for University Learning: Inspiring
Academic Practice in Higher Education
Chrissi Nerantzi & Alison James
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
2
A few words about this booklet
This booklet is a practical guide; it brings together the thoughts and experiences of
the editors and colleagues across the UK who use LEGO bricks, or the LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® method to develop student learning, academic and professional
practice and research. It has been produced as a resource for academic developers
and others who would like to start using such approaches in their own higher
education contexts but need some additional ideas. While it celebrates the LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® approach it makes a clear distinction between this method and
other activities inspired by its principles and practices. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
has territory in common with other creative methodologies which also use materials,
metaphor and story. Suggestions are made as to how such other activities may be
intertwined with the use of LEGO.
Authors
Chrissi Nerantzi and Alison James
Contributors: Dr Stephen Powell, Neil Withnell, Sue Watling, Graham Barton,
Lesley Raven, Haleh Moravej, Prof. Dr Tobias Seibl, Dr Thanassis Spyriadis, Dr
Sean McCusker, Lisa Higgings, Sue Beckingham, Prof. Rebecca Lawthom and Dr
Catherine Hayes.
Copyright notices
LEGO® and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® are trademarks of the LEGO Group.
This book is not approved, authorised or endorsed by the LEGO Group.
The digital form of this booklet is distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution Non- Commercial License 4.0 International
(creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits sharing and adapting of
the material, provided the original work is properly attributed (see recommended
citation below), any changes are clearly indicated, and the material is not used for
commercial purposes.
Note: Part 1 of this booklet is based on the following short paper made available
under a creative commons licence CC BY for the OER14 Conference: Nerantzi, C. &
McCusker, S. (2014) A taster of the LEGO® Serious Play® Method for Higher
Education, OER14 Building Communities of Open Practice, Conference
Proceedings, 28-29 April 2014, Centre for Life, Newcastle, United Kingdom.
Recommended Citation
Nerantzi, C. & James, A. (2019) LEGO® for University Learning: Inspiring academic
practice in higher education, DOI https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2813448
Cover design
The cover is based on a LEGO® model Chrissi created at the end of her LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator training. She still has this mini model on her desk. It
encapsulates her holistic understanding of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, and what can
be achieved through this flexible creative method. The cover has been designed by
Adam Frank and Ben Davies.
3
Table of Contents
About the authors, notes and resources ............................................................. 5
Acknowledgements ........................................................................................... 11
Prologue by Professor Johan S. Roos: LSP is about freedom .......................... 12
Overview ........................................................................................................... 13
PART 1: Background and Method..................................................................... 14
1.1 How LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® started ................................................................. 14
1.2 The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process...................................................................... 15
1.3 The power of storytelling through metaphorical symbols .......................................... 18
1.4 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and playful learning in higher education ...................... 19
PART 2: Stories ................................................................................................ 21
2.1 Using LEGO with National Health Service Staff ......................................................... 21
2.2 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with overseas visitors and conference delegates ....... 22
2.3 Introducing LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to colleagues in a digital capabilities
workshop environment .......................................................................................................... 23
2.4 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for developing effective communication skills ............. 24
2.5 Exploring concepts using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® ............................................... 25
2.6 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® gives everybody a voice ................................................ 25
2.7 A potpourri of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® applications ............................................ 26
2.8 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to develop reflection in undergraduate Fashion Art
students ................................................................................................................................... 27
2.9 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for Academic Support ..................................................... 27
2.10 Making human connections through LEGO .............................................................. 28
2.11 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® defuses boredom ......................................................... 29
2.12 LEGO as re-immersion ................................................................................................. 30
2.13 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with Nursing students .................................................. 31
2.14 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in myriad contexts ........................................................ 31
2.15 Professional discussions: Using LEGO in assessment in Educational
Development ........................................................................................................................... 32
PART 3: Activity prompts .................................................................................. 34
3.1 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® warm-up prompts ............................................................ 35
3.2 Activity prompts for learning and teaching ................................................................... 37
3.3 Prompts for recognition of teaching (HEA Fellowship) .............................................. 41
3.4 Prompts for educational development (Fellowship of SEDA) ................................... 50
4
3.5 Prompts for using learning technologies (Certified Membership of ALT) ............... 55
3.6 Prompts for coaching and mentoring ............................................................................ 61
3.7 Prompts for research ....................................................................................................... 68
3.8. Design tips ....................................................................................................................... 73
PART 4: Variations on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, by Chrissi .......................... 75
4.1 Facilitation ......................................................................................................................... 75
4.2 Participation ...................................................................................................................... 76
4.3 Material: With and without LEGO .................................................................................. 77
4.4 Virtual LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops ............................................................ 78
4.5 Now what? ........................................................................................................................ 78
PART 5: Conclusions and further conversations ............................................... 80
Epilogue by Professor Sally Brown: Playing to learn, learning to play .............. 81
References ........................................................................................................ 82
5
About the authors, notes and resources
Chrissi Nerantzi (@chrissinerantzi) is a Principal Lecturer in academic CPD in the
University Teaching Academy, UTA (until March 2019 known as the Centre for
Excellence in Learning and Teaching, CELT) at Manchester Metropolitan University
in the United Kingdom. She feels passionate about the use of creative, innovative
and open approaches to learning, teaching and research that have the power to
stimulate engagement, learning, boost confidence and build community. Chrissi is an
accredited facilitator of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method and has experience
using the method in a wide range of HE contexts with staff and students and, has
carried out related research. She has developed a range of workshops and short
courses based on the principles of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. She is often invited to
support colleagues and facilitate tailor-made workshops and courses with staff and
students using this method. Her research interests are in the area of creativity,
innovation and open education. Chrissi is a National Teaching Fellow, a Principal
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Staff and Educational
Development Association. She was awarded the Learning Technologist of the Year
2017 by the Association for Learning Technology and in 2018 received the Award for
Best Open Research Practice by the Global OER Graduate Network. For more
information about Chrissi, please visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrissinerantzi.
Alison James (@alisonrjames) is a Professor of Learning and Teaching at the
University of Winchester, a National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the
Higher Education Academy in the UK. She is co-author, with Stephen D. Brookfield,
of Engaging Imagination: helping students become creative and reflective thinkers,
published by Jossey Bass in 2014. Her longstanding interests in higher education
are the use and development of creative and alternative approaches to tertiary
learning. In particular she has explored these in relation to curriculum design, critical
and self-reflection and in multidisciplinary contexts. Alison is an accredited facilitator
of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and produced a report for the Higher Education
Academy on her work using LEGO in the creative arts in 2015, available online at
https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/innovating-creative-arts-lego Although
the context for this report was art and design, as the creators of LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® themselves make clear, the method crosses all disciplinary boundaries.
6
Alison meets Chrissi
Alison’s and Chrissi’s professional paths joined when they first met in Bristol at the
annual Staff and Educational Development Association conference in 2013. Their
love for playfulness in learning and teaching connected them. Since then, Alison and
Chrissi have been working together on a range of projects. One of them is the issue
of Creative Academic Magazine: Exploring Play in HE. Their biggest project is the
edited book, The Power of Play: Creativity in Tertiary Learning was published by
Palgrave MacMillan in early 2019. Together they also co-edited the following special
issue:
Nerantzi, C. & James, A. (eds.) (2018) Discovering innovative applications of
LEGO® in learning and teaching in higher education, Special Issue, International
Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4. Available
at http://ijmar.org/v5n4/toc.html
It is hoped that this booklet will help practitioners and researchers familiarise
themselves with how LEGO may be used in tertiary learning. In particular it
considers the principles and structure of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and how using
this creative method and others inspired by it can form part of our academic
repertoire. As with any pedagogic resource or approach, judicious use of it and a
clear sense of its academic purpose should be the main driver. With specific regard
to the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method or related approaches we advocate taking
care to allow enough time and space to reap its benefits, if you want to explore
issues in depth. This does not mean that you cannot use LEGO bricks for quick
activities and simpler outcomes, just that such activities are different. We suggest
that there is also a happy balance to be achieved in terms of its frequency of use. As
with anything, used too often there is a risk that participants become jaded with it;
however, when used sufficiently frequently staff and students have the opportunity to
build on their skills in using it just as they would when developing other capabilities.
7
Notes
As David Gauntlett sets out in the 2010 Open Source Guide to LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY®, the method and its materials were originally restricted in use to trained
facilitators. Since 2010 the LEGO Group has made the method available under a
Creative Commons licence (‘Attribution Share Alike’: see http://creativecommons.
org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ for licence details) with regard to two aspects of the method:
1. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® basic principles and philosophy, upon which
everything else is built;
2. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® materials sets of specially selected LEGO®
bricks and pieces;
A welcome was extended to the method’s international community of users to
develop new applications, some of which could be shared online. It is in this spirit
that we and our fellow contributors share this booklet and is in accordance with the
position stated in June 2010 whereby the originators of the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® became open to ‘creative uses of these tools, and innovation in the
community’ (Gauntlett, 2010).
We should note, however, that within the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® community
robust warnings circulate as to the care that must be taken when referring to
activities using LEGO® as LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. (There is also a publication
setting out the legal basis protecting the LEGO trademark which you can find here:
https://www.lego.com/r/www/r/seriousplay/-
/media/serious%20play/pdf/2017/lego%20serious%20play%20trademark%20guideli
nes%20version%202017.pdf?l.r2=527136104
The two main principles of use for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® are set out in the Open
Source booklet and can effectively be summarised as follows. One is that activities
closely following the applications and principles of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® as set
out in their training courses and materials can be called LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
Anything that uses LEGO® but deviates noticeably from these systematic
applications should not.
One way in which this difference might be seen is in terms of time; the systematic
activity schedule of a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop set out in training
manuals and other documents requires anything from 3-4 hours to 1-2 days to be
implemented. Another is that specific bricks are used for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
We write as advocates of the method and as academics who respect ownership and
copyright; we therefore pass on here awareness of any caution required and also are
careful to comply with such strictures ourselves. However, as creative educators we
also know that some of the principles of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® are shared by
other methods (metaphor and storytelling, for example and the use of a ‘mediating
artefact’ to explore experience or knowledge). We are also supporters of innovation
believing that even the best approaches can also benefit from imaginative
interpretation and modification. Furthermore, we are realists; the time and resource
constraints of HE often mean that activities have to be completed within much
shorter time periods than those we would like to have the luxury of. Limited finances
8
also mean that we cannot always provide new, bespoke kits for every activity; we
therefore turn to the materials that we have close at hand, or can re-use. We
endeavour to make clear in this booklet where we are referring to LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® in its pure form, where we are discussing LEGO-related activities which are
different to this and where we are suggesting blurring the lines and combining such
approaches with other creative methods and materials. However, with many
contributing voices this may be more obvious at some times than at others. We ask
you as reader to bear these distinctions in mind as you navigate the various stories
and examples.
9
Resources
Further detailed information about the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method can be
found in the following sites and publications:
Professor Johan Roos and Professor Bart Victor have written an excellent backdrop
to how they came to create the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, and this is the
perfect place to start. You can find their article in our special issue of the
International Journal of Management and Applied Research under:
Roos, J. and Victor, B. (2018), "How It All Began: The Origins Of LEGO® Serious
Play®", International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4,
pp. 326-343. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-025
The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method has been described in detail in the following
open source guide by Prof. David Gauntlett:
The LEGO Group (2010). Open-source/<Introduction to LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®,
available at http://davidgauntlett.com/wp-
content/uploads/2013/04/LEGO_SERIOUS_PLAY_OpenSource_14mb.pdf
David is perhaps the most prominent user of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in a
university context and has been working for many years with the LEGO Group and
others to explore the use of LEGO®. Access his website at
http://davidgauntlett.com/portfolio/lego-collaborations/ where you will out more about
David’s LEGO® related activities, projects and publications.
Other publications in a context broader than HE include
Kristiansen, P. and Rasmussen, R. (2014) Building a better business using the
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Blair, S. and Rillo, M. (2016) SERIOUS WORK. How to facilitate meetings &
workshops using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, ProMeet.
Within HE specifically, Chrissi and Alison have also written extensively about, and
disseminated, their thinking about the use of LEGO-related approaches. To illustrate,
Alison’s HEA report in the series Innovative pedagogies series: Innovating in the
Creative Arts with LEGO, provides an introduction to the use of LEGO and LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® in a specific higher education context (James, 2015).
Chrissi has created a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® section on the University Teaching
Academy’s, UTA (previously the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching,
CELT) website of Manchester Metropolitan University. This introduces the method
and provides access to further resources and research. It can be accessed at
http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/teaching/lego_sp.php
As mentioned already, Alison and Chrissi edited a Special Issue around the use of
LEGO® in Higher Education and this can be accessed at
Nerantzi, C. and James, A. (eds.) (2018) Discovering innovative applications of
LEGO® in learning and teaching in higher education, Special Issue, International
10
Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, Available
at http://ijmar.org/v5n4/toc.html. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54
These publications are useful for in a higher education context together with a
growing body of research in this area (see https://b4bricks.org/il-metodo-lego-
serious-play/academic-publication/ for a selection).
11
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank all practitioners who contributed their stories and especially
Dr Stephen Powell, Neil Withnell, Sue Watling, Graham Barton, Lesley Raven, Prof.
Dr Tobias Seibl, Dr Thanassis Spyriadis, Sue Beckingham, Dr Sean McCusker, Lisa
Higgings, Haleh Moravej, Prof. Rebecca Lawthom as well as Alison Laithwaite, Dr
Gayle Impey, Dr Maren Deepwell, Tom Palmer, Dr Charles Neame and Dr Bea de
los Arcos for commenting on specific LEGO(R) SERIOUS PLAY(R) activity prompts.
Finally, we would like to thank especially Prof. Johan S. Roos for writing the prologue
and Prof. Sally Brown for writing the epilogue for this booklet.
12
Prologue by Professor Johan S. Roos: LSP is about freedom
Mark Twain’s memorable character Huckleberry Finn wants to be free of social
conventions. Perhaps more than anything Huck wants to think independently, follow
the moral intuitions of his heart, that is, to be himself. Huck finds his freedom in
nature and by moving around a lot.
It difficult not to sympathise with Huck, especially if you delight from creative and
expressive arts-like methods, like LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP). Two decades
ago I too wanted to break free from conventions and imposed norms, in my case,
traditional executive education. Inviting managers from serious multinational
companies to present they ideas and case solutions as hand-made LEGO®
constructions instead of on flip-charts and slides noticeably broke quite a few
conventions.
On the surface, what I did challenged both the traditional mode assumed in such
conversations (work-like; productive; serious) and medium of communication (two-
dimensional; paper-based). More profoundly, the new approach encouraged the
imagination and integrated cognitive, social and emotional dimensions of people
interacting. In other words, in our micro-cosmos and at that time and place, I was
enabling these managers to think beyond conventions, to be more themselves, and
to see the same in a different way and together create entirely new insights. To
some extent, I intentionally set them free. It worked, and the rest is history.
Two decades later I am delighted to see how the LSP method has spread throughout
the world. There are many capable facilitators, so many participants of LSP-enabled
workshops, and so much valuable experience to learn from. This is why I have
initiated a major research project on how LSP help readiness of change, and will
continue to do research on LSP-related activities in organizations.
This practical guide may not be approved, authorised or endorsed by the LEGO
Group, but I am sure the freedom it represents is endorsed and welcomed by many
people in the UK and beyond, in higher education and elsewhere.
LSP is still breaking conventions in organizations, industries and countries and I
hope it continues to help set people a little more free. Just remember: LSP is about
freedom.
Johan S. Roos
Professor of General Management & Strategy, HULT International Business School
& Co-inventor of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
johan.roos@hult.edu
13
Overview
This booklet provides an introduction into how LEGO-based approaches, such as the
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, can be used for learning in Higher Education
(HE) contexts. It is illustrated by practitioners stories from different disciplines and
higher education institutions. These evidence the diversity of ways in which the
principles of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® can be applied across disciplines to make
learning and teaching stimulating and engaging. A section with a range of prompts
for learning and teaching activities, that can be applied and adapted further have
been included. Furthermore, we offer suggestions for the professional development
of a wide range of colleagues in HE; academics and others who teach, researchers,
coaches and mentors, educational developers, learning technologists and many
more. Ways in which to extend, integrate or repurpose principles which inform the
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method are also explored towards the end of this booklet.
While we are accredited facilitators and can share our experiences and ideas of the
method, we are not accredited trainers of other facilitators. We advise academic
practitioners who are keen to use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to also participate in
specialist development workshops or courses to learn the fundamentals of the
method.
We also recommend that in your early days of learning a systematic approach such
as LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® you follow the standard method so as to embed your
grasp of its principles and potential effects. Navigating a highly engaging but all-
encompassing approach will take attention and energy as you start to work out
where you might adjust or reshape your sessions. You will quickly learn that while
you can plan a session meticulously you cannot pre-empt everything that people will
say and build. While you might find that familiar symbols recur in terms of people’s
metaphorical building (e.g. bridges for connection, travel, development), people will
surprise you by their inventiveness in building and in the things that they may say.
This method, properly applied, can challenge you and your participants in ways that
neither you nor they may anticipate.
As part of your own development with the method reflecting on facilitation
experiences, asking for participants’ and colleagues’ feedback, will be invaluable. In
addition, adopting an evidence-based approach and engaging in related research
activities, will also help you to develop and refine practice and generate ideas on
further study and use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® that can be shared with the wider
academic community.
Booklet structure:
Part 1 Background and Method
Part 2 Stories
Part 3 Activity prompts
Part 4 Variations
Part 5 Directory of accredited facilitators
14
PART 1: Background and Method
This section provides an introduction to the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method as
well as to the potential of some of its applications for learning and teaching in higher
education. For much fuller information you can read any of the texts listed in our
opening section. There are many more publications besides out there to help you
move forward.
1.1 How LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® started
If you want the story ‘from the horse’s mouth’ then you must read Roos and Victor’s
article from the IJMAR Journal (Roos and Victor, 2018).
What follows here is our story in shorthand. The first use of LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® was largely in the business world, for strategic planning, team building and
identity workshops. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has transformed business meetings
and decision-making in the companies who have embraced it (Novo Nordisk, Harco
Technology, ABSA and VodaCom). Over the last decade or so, use of LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® in education has also been increasing (Gauntlett, 2007; Frick et
al. 2013; James, 2013; James & Brookfield 2014; Nerantzi & Despard 2014;
Nerantzi, C. & McCusker 2014; James 2015; Nerantzi, Moravej & Johnson, 2015;
Nerantzi & James, 2018; James & Nerantzi (eds.) 2019).
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® was developed out of a dissatisfaction with the outcome
of strategic meetings. There was an urgency to find new ways that would activate
innovative thinking and creative problem solving especially when the LEGO
company was facing problems such as strong competition from digital toy makers
threatening its existence in the mid 1990s (Frick et al., 2013). LEGO® was seeking a
way to empower individuals and teams and use their ideas to make the company
stronger and thrive in a rapidly changing market. Kjeld Kirk Kristiensen, the CEO of
LEGO® at the time, recognised that strategic meetings needed to be transformed
into exciting idea generating events that empowered participants. LEGO® looked
towards its own bricks as a tool to enable its people to come up with innovative
solutions.
The original team of Kjeld Kirk Kristiensen, together with Johan Roos and Bart Victor
from the IMD Business School in Lausanne, had shared values and recognised the
urgency and necessity of an alternative approach for strategic decision making. They
started development of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method and were keen to
make it available beyond the LEGO® organisation and market it as a product.
Based on the research and development work by Johan Roos and Bart
Victor, including many experiments with many executives at the Imagination Lab
Foundation, the method was officially launched in 2002 by Executive Discovery, a
subsidiary of the LEGO® Company. Robert Rasmusen was brought onboard 2000
by the CEO of Executive Discovery, Bart Victor, to help him improve the product,
Imaginopedia and training process for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitators. In
2010, the company decided to make the method open source under a Creative
Commons v 3.0 licence, which more rapidly across the globe, transforming practices
at a much larger scale. Training in the method is today provided by certified
facilitators who have completed the original training with the LEGO Company, and
others.
15
Specialist LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® kits are sold by LEGO® to be used for
systematically designed applications which require all participants to have access to
certain kinds of bricks. What we will show in this booklet is that it is possible to use
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® approaches using non-standard bricks, and that also
once you have mastered the principles of the method you will find your own
imaginative ways to apply these.
1.2 The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process
The full detail of the process is painstakingly set out in materials which are made
available through official training programmes. Even if you have dabbled with the
method and its principles already undertaking this training does add significant
dimensions to your ability to use it. More and more higher education practitioners are
completing the certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training or other LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® development workshops and courses and are keen to use it in
their practice. This enables wider engagement and experimentation which further
opens up new possibilities for our understanding of the method in a higher education
context.
What follows here is a condensed version of its principles.
The process is premised on the idea that the solution is in the system and the
answers are in the room. It encourages everybody to participate actively and
become part of that solution. Everybody has a voice and shares their thoughts,
reflections, ideas and feelings, to move the collective forward and become the
solution to a specific problem or intervention through building LEGO® models. The
models and their metaphorical meanings are owned by their creators; that is to say
that there is no hidden truth or pre-set meaning in the bricks. What they stand for is
entirely the choice of the builder. Furthermore, the creativity in expression has
nothing to do with the representation of an idea from an artistic standpoint. It is not
about building something attractive (although many models are) nor is the main aim
to create something that is aesthetically pleasing. It is about the expression of
something that the builder wants to say. There is no right or wrong way of doing it.
Each participant is unique and expresses themselves in unique ways.
The workshop process is based on a series of challenges set as questions, a visual
response to these and the sharing of stories. Limited time, usually between 1 and 8
minutes, depending on the build, is made available to construct models as a
response to individual questions. More complex applications require slightly longer,
however the focus is not on a lengthy, pre-prepared build. Immediacy in responding
to the task is key to acting on the impulses, intuitions and ideas that first present
themselves, rather than over-analysing or editing what is built. Workshops can last
from a one hour introductory session to one or two full days. How long will depend
on what you want to achieve and the timeframe and resource with which you can
operate. Another way of using the method is to include a shorter activity as a
complement to other approaches.
The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training materials set out a four-stage process, which
is:
16
1. Posing the question
2. Building the model
3. Sharing the model
4. Shared reflection
This is mirrored by LEGO Education in the following four stages: Connect, Construct,
Contemplate, Continue. In effect these four Cs are in play with each build;
connecting to the question or topic, building in response to it, reflecting on and
discussing it with participants and then extending or building further in accordance
with more questions or additional thoughts.
As with all good stories the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process has a beginning, a
middle and an end.
The beginning: As mentioned above, working practices need to be agreed and the
process and desired outcomes explained at the start so that everybody is clear.
Then building begins. A progressive approach works best, starting with a warm-up or
skills development section. This helps individuals develop their LEGO building skills
and move them slowly from building instruction-led literal models to adding
metaphorical features to them. At the same time, facilitators start the process of
sharing and opening-up in a non-threatening way while also starting the reflective
process. The making of their models increases participants’ ownership of that which
they represent. As time goes on in a workshop, many quickly find it hard to dismantle
their creations as they start to identify closely with them, sometimes as an extension
of self.
The middle: The main LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process is the following:
1. Posing the question: the facilitator asks a question which is addressed to the
whole group. This acts as a trigger and helps participants to focus in on a
thought, an idea or a situation. The question needs to be clear and open-
ended so that participants understand what they are asked to do and enable
freedom to reflect and respond to the question in a way that is meaningful to
them and encourages further exploration. Socratic questioning techniques
provide this opportunity. They are based on “The Socratic Method” (Nelson,
1949, vi) that creates the space for open dialogue, debate, reflection, ideas
generation and individual and collective problem finding and problem solving
(Savin-Baden, 2008). These questions help us explore and analyse complex
and/or challenging ideas and concepts, as well as uncover some of our
assumptions. Questions may start with “what” and “how” and are open
questions that seek clarification, reason, identify implications, viewpoints and
assumptions. “Why” questions tend to be avoided as these can sound
judgemental, and the facilitator does not judge.
2. Building the model: Each participant makes a model individually as a
response to the facilitator’s question. The model and their meanings belong to
the makers, and it is not for others to tell the builder what they meant or
thought. Building starts while everything is still messy in participants’ minds as
they rummage through the bricks and thoughts start to arise. It is advised that
participants avoid “having a meeting with themeselves in the building stage.
This will help them not to get bogged down in thinking and planning before
17
they build. This is the opposite of the ways architects, planners and engineers
work, in terms of building models and scoping out meticulous plans before
any building begins. The immediacy and intuitiveness of the building process
are important aspects. The models will emerge and become a visualisation of
thoughts that have a specific metaphorical meaning for the makers. The
addition of small bricks as markers say, red or green - are often used after
the models have been constructed to highlight a particular strength,
challenge, priority or difficulty. This reflecting and selecting action can really
help the model maker focus on a key feature and illuminate this as something
that is of special significance and therefore of value for further reflection,
sharing and exploration. This is triggered through an additional question by
the facilitator. Sometimes the facilitator may ask for participants to build
smaller “mini models” and a few of them at the same time. This may be to
provide specific examples of something, or to flesh out ideas. In addition there
are specific LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® activities that lead to the development
of shared models after the initial individual model-building phase. These can
help capture the collective response in an inclusive way as all perspectives
will be represented. Furthermore, through using connections, we can create
landscape models that depict stronger and weaker connections among
individual models that help us visualise the interrelationships among individual
models and their position in the ecosystem.
3. Sharing the model: This is a very important part of the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® process. The model acts as a hook to reflect and share our story with
others and connect with the stories shared by others. It is important to give
enough time to listen to all stories and to allow them to be heard.
4. Reflecting on the model. The process of reflection kicks in as soon as building
begins, continues through the building process and when the stories are
shared. The facilitator and participants might ask open-ended questions to
seek clarification linked to specific models or features and aid deeper
reflection.
The process is repeated through a series of scaffold activities introduced through
further questions which the facilitator has prepared until the desired outcomes have
been met. It is recommended that the facilitator is flexible and responsive.
The end: The facilitator invites participants to reflect individually and collectively to
summarise and remember the key themes and ideas. These are captured in the
model itself but may also be jotted down in a notebook or learning journal. In some
cases a video might be made to capture a group story or the details contained within
a model that might be forgotten, but which will be important for taking ideas forward
in a more traditional context, outside the workshop.
1.3 The importance of the skilled facilitator
As with any form of group activity, the facilitator plays a vital role in the use of the
process itself and the outcomes. They lay the foundations for the effective
implementation of the method, including the creation of a supportive and safe
environment that ensures pan-participation. The facilitator is tasked with carefully
monitoring what happens during a workshop, to sense challenges or tensions and
respond quickly and smoothly to maximise engagement and output. Facilitators do
18
not participate in the building process; they assume a position outside the
participants. Effective facilitators bring the best out of the participants and empower
them to share their thoughts and ideas and become part of the solution, part of
learning and learning itself.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is highly active and includes every participant. However
every participant has to be prepared to be present, engaged and make the
commitment to being open to what the method may bring. Using the LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® techniques means opening up, being honest with self and others,
having a voice, discussing and listening respectfully. This openness means being
prepared to reflect critically, think, re-think and un-think perhaps revising long held
views or established positions. Such an openness can lead to personal and
collective learning, development and growth. However, it can also be seen as a
highly sensitive process that participants might fear will expose them or make them
feel vulnerable. It often leads them to explore their values, thoughts and ideas as
well as their feelings. Not everyone in the workshop will want to do this. In our
experience participants can feel a little wary at the outset or downright resistant to
the notion of building with a children’s toy. It is therefore vital that the facilitator is
alert to the feelings and dispositions in the room. Sometimes this might involve
enabling participants to settle quickly through activities, or start to understand some
of the learning philosophy at work and tackle their chosen topic. As they do so most
people start to appreciate how building metaphorical representations of issues
important to them can be a creative and valuable act. Participants may also need to
feel that they are in a safe environment where sharing is enabled through mutual
respect and acceptance of differences and individuality. Whatever the needs of the
group, the facilitator’s skills are essential. This might involve negotiating and
agreeing working practices and goals for the workshop. It might also be about
clarifying that no one will be coerced to build or express anything that they do not
wish to share or which will make them feel discomfited. Allowing for this however, is
not about shying away from the exploration of complex issues important to the
group, about which its members may feel strongly. Building models which are the
focus for the discussion, rather than the person, means that perspectives can be
gathered around all kinds of issues but at one ‘remove’. The conversation is about
ideas expressed in the model, not about the person.
1.3 The power of storytelling through metaphorical symbols
From Tralee to Timbuktu, storytelling is an instinctive and shared human practice. It
is natural for people to share experiences via stories, making them more memorable.
This happens through the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process too; individuals quickly
move from describing their models in a mechanistic way and turn to storytelling as
this is the way we communicate and engage the attention of our audience. Moon
(2010) notes that stories are powerful for the storyteller and the listeners and are
important vehicles for reflection, sharing of messages, creating opportunities for
conversation and learning as well as enabling us to connect emotionally with the
stories and their creators.
The models enable us to reflect through the use of personal metaphors, sometimes
using familiar entities in new contexts. For example, models that include ladders,
19
doors, walls and windows are often used to illustrate specific milestones in
somebody’s learning journey. These help us knit together and share our metaphors
with others by telling a story. The metaphors play a vital role in constructing meaning
in a more creative way (Schön, 1983). They also enable us to gain a deeper insight
into our own thinking and as such they are a valuable tool for reflection. According to
Geary (2011, 211) “metaphorical language can describe the indescribable.” We find
it easier to express complex ideas and emotions for example using metaphors as 3D
representations beyond words, but also challenge our own beliefs and make new
discoveries. The metaphors, as the models we create, belong to the maker. Both,
the models and the metaphors they represent, transfer internal meaning to an
external object which might make it easier to talk about messy situations and thought
provoking ideas. Teasing out meaning from the model using non-threatening
questioning techniques by the facilitators and the group itself is part of the reflective
process that helps the individual to make sense of their model and further the
group’s understanding of a specific situation, topic or experience.
New language leads to new thinking and as such the learner is less likely to
reproduce learned or expected responses. Instead their responses are more
visceral. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method allows these individual models to
be combined or integrated into a new shared model which represents the shared
understanding of the group. It is through this process that deep conceptions and
misconceptions can be brought to the table and through exposition, conflict and
resolution, familiar concepts to storytellers, new knowledge and understanding is co-
constructed within that community.
1.4 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and playful learning in higher education
Interest in playful learning in all its forms has started spreading across higher
education. A shift towards active and participatory pedagogies as well as game-
based learning and social media technologies as well as open practices are helping
to spread the bug for playful learning, teaching and research, together with the
growing evidence-base of its value and impact in these settings (Nerantzi & James,
2015a; Nerantzi & James, 2015b; James & Nerantzi, 2018; Whitton, 2018).
There is a pedagogic premise to the method which fits with tertiary learning and with
both independent and collaborative enquiry. The process starts with an individual
building activity which then leads on to a group activity. Individual models are then
shared with others, discussed and perhaps added to or configured and grouped with
those of fellow participants. Gauntlett (2011, 4) states that making a model helps
individuals to focus and identify creative connections beyond the obvious and notes
that “thinking and making are aspects of the same process”. Papert developed the
“learning through making” or constructionist theory which claims that knowledge is
constructed through mental or real models (Papert & Harel, 1991). Frick et al. (2013,
8) note that constructionism is “about making formal and abstract ideas more
concrete and tangible, therefore easier to understand.” Learning is not a process
which occurs in isolation. The constructivist view is that learning is achieved through
experiences and the integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge. The co-
constructivist view extends this to allow that learning is achieved through the sharing
of meanings, conceptions and understandings, within learning communities. In this
domain, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has a great deal to contribute.
20
Brown (2010, 101) states that “play is like fertilizer for brain growth. It’s crazy not to
use it.” While this is widely recognised especially for children, play is still often
dismissed as a valuable learning and development strategy for adults. This is
something that we, and numerous colleagues, explore in The Power of Play in HE:
Creativity in Tertiary Learning (2019). A characteristic of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
is learning through play and the personal and collective expression through
visualisation of LEGO models via thinking with our own hands. These models
represent external images in 3D of our internal reality, thoughts and ideas (James,
2013).
When the potential benefits and personal and collective gains of the process are
made clear to adults (who tend to be goal-orientated, according to Brown, 2010),
they start to take greater risks and experiment with new approaches which may have
been alien to them initially. Some might experience what Csikszentmihalyi (1996)
calls ‘being in flow’, an ideal state of intrinsic motivation, which can transform
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® sessions into immersive, enjoyable and highly effective
learning and development experiences. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a playful
method that has the power to help participants feel more relaxed, although some
may be wary or resistant to start with. Positivity towards LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
can be achieved via the creation of a safe environment that will enable participants
to loosen up, immerse themselves in the process, take risks and engage in less
common and more playful activities.
21
PART 2: Stories
In this part diverse educators provide short accounts of their own use of LEGO® or
the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method. The examples included are short descriptions
of practice from a range of disciplines and professional areas within higher education,
and/or testimonials to the benefit of the approach. They do not contain exact recipes
to follow in terms of imitating what has been done. Rather, the aim of these is to
provide food for thought to others who are considering using LEGO® related activities
in their practice. You will also find a mixture here of stories which describe LEGO-
based activities which don’t have all the distinct characteristics of LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® and those which do.
2.1 Using LEGO with National Health Service Staff
contributed by Dr Stephen Powell (email: s.powell@mmu.ac.uk)
Educational Developer working in the University Teaching Academy, UTA (until
March 2019 known as the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching) at
Manchester Metropolitan University
As part of my induction on joining my current employer, I shadowed various
colleagues and one of the activities I chose to participate in was a course for
academics who wished to explore using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in teaching.
From this, I progressed to using LEGO® in some of my own teaching, motivated by a
desire to experiment and explore teaching approaches that were new to me.
One example of my use of LEGO® is with a group of 20 National Health Service staff
who have a training role for University students in addition to their core
responsibilities as scientists and clinical staff. This was a very mixed group from
different hospitals and representing different specialisms and ways of
working. Some participants had patient facing responsibilities with others working in
laboratories.
I used an activity inspired by LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to enable participants to
explore their roles as trainers, and as a means of identifying goals for future
workshops. Key questions were:
What do you do?
What makes it fun and rewarding?
What challenges do you face?
The approach I took was typical of many sessions using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
We started with icebreaker activities to get participants familiar with making models
out of LEGO® working on tables with 4-5. We then progressed to building models of
their situation, constrained to using six bricks, these were shared by each participant
in the group with colleagues encouraged to ask questions, but not make leading
suggestions. Further rounds asked participants to add coloured blocks to represent
their reflections on the key questions above and again these were shared. Finally,
rather than build a collective LEGO® model I asked the groups to develop a flipchart
so that they could be shared with other groups or a plenary session exploring the
participants roles as trainers & teachers.
22
The session concluded with a discussion about LEGO® techniques as a teaching
approach. Participants were able to identify and explain what they saw as the
advantages of the approaches used. This included as an icebreaker activity that got
participants who did not know each other talking and sharing and as an approach for
promoting reflection on their role as trainers that allowed everyone to have a
voice. However, they found it hard to envisage how they might use LEGO® in their
training roles, possibly this is because time was limited and it can take a while to get
to grips with. Another possibility is that given their work context, they feel
constrained about what it is they are ‘allowed’ to do. Reflecting on the session
myself, I was satisfied that it had achieved what I had set out to; the ice-breaker
activity got the class talking and working together with the follow-up activities getting
participants to think a little deeper about their roles.
I will explore LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® further and undertake a Masters level unit to
give some structure to my evaluation and reflection of using this approach and also
get a better understanding of the theory behind it. I can also see value in using
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® techniques for my institutional project activities, for
example, when seeking to improve institutional processes and practices where the
use of LEGO® could stimulate creative thinking in workshops.
2.2 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with overseas visitors and conference delegates
contributed by Neil Withnell (email: n.withnell@salford.ac.uk)
Associate Dean Academic Quality Assurance within the School of Health & Society
at the University of Salford
Having heard great things about LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® from colleagues in my
professional network, I was hoping to use this in my role. I was fortunate to gain a
place on the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator training in December 2016, which
introduced me to this method and helped me to gain confidence in using it in my own
practice. I see many benefits of using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and here are two
examples of how I have used it in two different settings.
1. Creative learning and teaching: In this first example we welcomed overseas
visitors to the School and spent some time working with them to explore creative
ways of teaching and learning. The visitors were keen to explore creative
approaches and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® activities seemed to me to be the way to
demonstrate this.
They were very quick to engage in the activity and could see the benefits of using
aspects of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in their practice. Feedback was very positive
and it was great to see all the group fully immersed in the activity. Earlier in the day it
was noticeable that there were a few members of the group who tended to sit back
and were very quiet; the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® approach brought them all
together and encouraged collaboration.
2. Gamifying TEF using LEGO based activities: I worked with a colleague to develop
a game for the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference. The theme of the
Conference was the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and together we designed
a TEF Crystal Maze using LEGO® and other resources to enable participants to spend
time in various zones for reflection and discussion. The use of LEGO® encouraged
23
active participation and the gamification was well received, with positive feedback.
Comments included “fantastic, really loved the Maze” “well done”.
The use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in team working is an area that I intend to
explore in the future. The use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® brings together
individuals with a shared goal and ensures that everyone can contribute. My own
view of team meetings has been that there are several colleagues who do not
contribute and through LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® I hope to gain more involvement
and “buy-in”.
2.3 Introducing LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to colleagues in a digital capabilities
workshop environment
contributed by Sue Watling (email: s.watling@hull.ac.uk)
Teaching Enhancement Advisor at the University of Hull
I attended a workshop using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® offered by Chrissi Nerantzi
at Manchester Metropolitan University. This introduced the pedagogic principles of
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® as well as opportunities to build. Following this, I
reclaimed the LEGO® from the attic and took the box into work wanting to try it out
with colleagues and see what their responses would be. I wanted to experience a
different and more creative approach to teaching enhancement and, hopefully take
away some ideas.
I facilitate a digital capabilities network, bringing together colleagues with an interest
in developing digital confidence. Always looking for activities which offer alternative
approaches to CPD as well as learning and teaching enhancement, I took along my
LEGO® box. We tried some tasks from the workshop with Chrissi. The activity which
stimulated most discussion was building a virtual learning environment. This is
something we all have experience of so was an inclusive trigger, something which is
useful when introducing something as novel as building with LEGO® in a higher
education environment!
After the workshop, one participant sought me out to explain how their initial disdain
turned to engagement and felt the break in routine left them refreshed to continue
their day. I’m not sure either of us could accurately identify the trigger for change.
Maybe it was the constructive element combined with the unexpected but whatever
the reason, it reinforced how LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has the potential for ‘magic’
to happen. It could be a kinaesthetic connection, the novelty or simply the freedom of
being given permission to play and having that experience legitimated. I felt
‘permission’ was a big deal. The facilitator has to create an environment where it’s ok
to ‘play’ but participants also have to give themselves permission to engage on
different levels to their day-to-day working routines. This is not always easy to begin
with because ‘play’ is something we often forget to do, as well as being associated
with childhood and early years schooling.
Since the workshop, we have developed a ‘Creative Pedagogies’ strand to our work
which includes a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® approach to the enhancement of
learning and teaching. Following a series of pilot workshops, we are reviewing
evaluative feedback from critical friends, alongside lessons learned from a facilitation
viewpoint. This will frame Phase Two where the workshops will be reconstructed and
24
the principles of 3D building presented as a ‘constructionist’ pedagogic approach to
learning and teaching enhancement, with an emphasis on the value of critical
questioning (Papert, 1980). I am now co-module lead on the Postgraduate Certificate
in Academic Practice programme and will be introducing building with LEGO as a
learning design activity. This will provide a unique opportunity to discuss learning
and teaching which I am now confident from experience will stimulate relevant and
meaningful discussions.
References
Papert, S. (1980) Mindstorms. Basic Books, Inc.
2.4 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for developing effective communication skills
Contributed by Sue Beckingham (email: s.beckingham@shu.ac.uk)
Principal Lecturer in Business Information Systems and Technology, Sheffield
Hallam University
For some years now I have been looking at different ways to help students who are
not confident communicators find a voice. Having attended a couple of workshops
using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® approaches at conferences, I could see the
potential of providing students with a new way to reflect and learn from each other.
When asked to take on course leadership of a new foundation degree, I took the
opportunity to undertake the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training course, with a view
to integrating activities into the curriculum. I was teaching soft skills development and
as a tutor had seen students struggle over the years to articulate the skills that they
had and those needing further development. To apply for part-time work experience,
placement or eventually graduate jobs, most students will have to undertake
interviews and need to be able to express themselves confidently. LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® felt like a good way to take this forward.
My mini case study focusses on developing the students' communication skills,
exploring effective teamwork and other personal skills. The activity provided time and
space to observe, listen, and learn from each other. To facilitate the conversations I
asked the students to respond to the following questions by building LEGO® models:
What makes a good team?
What are the barriers that can disrupt good team work?
Think of a key strength, skill or attribute that you bring to the team.
Choose a skill that needs development. Why is this skill important?
The students were also keeping multimedia reflective blogs and encouraged to take
photos of their brick models. Previously reflective writing has been met with
resistance. The photos provided context and introduced a structure. The students
were more engaged and spoke to the images they had taken, considering both their
strengths and weaknesses in relation to the questions on skills and action plans for
future development. Going forward the students expressed themselves more fully;
25
reflecting on class contributions, what they might do differently and naturally began
to voice the ongoing skills they were developing.
2.5 Exploring concepts using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
Contributed by Dr Thanasis Spyriadis (email: t.spyriadis@mmu.ac.uk)
Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, Manchester Metropolitan University
I am the unit leader for two units, one undergraduate and one postgraduate, which
focus on strategic management and marketing in the context of tourism, hospitality
and events. I have used LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in my teaching on both these
units during a particular seminar that focused on exploring and applying the concepts
of strategic vision and mission.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has been an excellent tool to help students explore the
specific key concepts (i.e. strategic vision and mission) in a lot of depth. Initially, I
organised a guest lecture from STA Travel. Then, in the seminar time, students were
organised in teams and were introduced to a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® inspired
activity. The student teams were asked to use the LEGO® pieces to design a basic
structure (e.g. a bride). Then they were invited to present their structure to the rest of
the class. Next, the students were asked to read a 1-page summary of the
organisational profile (e.g. values) of Start The Adventure (STA) Travel
(http://www.statravel.co.uk/our-story.htm). Following from this, the student teams
were asked to develop a structure that represented STA Travel’s strategic vision.
Once they did, they were asked to present their structures in class and justify why
they designed it this way. The teams asked each other questions investigating the
thinking process of each team in more depth. At the end of the seminar, I connected
everything together highlighting the main points between the theory we had
discussed previously, the guest lecture content, as well as the ideas we shared in
the seminar.
The activity has been mentioned several times in the Internal Student Survey and
National Student Survey responses in a positive light. Students found the activity
creative, interactive, energetic, as well as enjoyable.
2.6 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® gives everybody a voice
Contributed by Dr Sean McCusker (email: sean.mccusker@northumbria.ac.uk)
Associate Professor, Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing, Northumbria
University
I have been using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for about 4 years within Higher
Education environments, mainly within Teacher Education contexts, looking at
teacher identity, training needs or research practice. I was first introduced to LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® through an EU funded project (www.s-play.eu) which was
adapting LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods for use in SMEs. Through this, I
received enough training in facilitation to deliver some short workshops. However, I
felt the need for greater knowledge and legitimacy and so went on to take part in the
official LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training with Robert Rasmussen. Following this, I
have been using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in workshops more widely, in my
26
teaching, in my research, in facilitating staff development and as part of the CPD
provision of the University.
Given my background in Engineering and research in Mathematics and Science
education, I started with a healthy scepticism about such a ‘touchy – feely’ method.
However, I was won over very early on when I saw the level of engagement from
participants and the way in which hierarchies and organisational barriers were
quickly broken. This aspect has always fascinated me. After each workshop, I make
the point of asking participants for frank and honest opinions about the process. I
consistently hear about how LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® gives voice to those who
have previously felt reluctant to express their views in group work, about how the
process opened new ways of expression and thinking and about how the dynamics
of the groups in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops are often very different from
those in other group activities.
This has led me to try to understand more of the theoretical underpinnings of
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to solidify a methodological basis for it. It has opened for
me a wider interest in the affordances of play and playfulness, particularly for adults
for whom true play can be quite difficult, unless they take it seriously!
2.7 A potpourri of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® applications
Contributed by Prof. Tobias Seidl (email: seidl@hdm-stuttgart.de)
Professor for Key Competencies at Stuttgart Media University, Germany. Vice-Dean
Teaching & Learning, Faculty Information and Communication
I teach undergraduate students from a range of disciplines and conduct
organisational development projects at several German universities. I discovered
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® about six years ago, when I carried out research in
systemic coaching methods. One of the most important features of LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY®, I find, is its democratic approach: everyone builds, everyone
shares and everyone speaks.
I’m using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® regularly in different learning activities:
reflecting the quality of team work in student working groups, articulating students’
perspective on “muddy concepts” (like “good teaching” or “the ideal leader”, see
picture below) and developing project plans for doctoral thesis. I am also using
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for organisational development in the HE-sector: e.g.
developing shared goals and visions for groups of academics, evaluating study
programmes with different stakeholders and personal development coaching.
My observations and students’ reflection in their learning portfolio indicate that
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is an effective way to help students reflect deeper than
they normally do in their classes. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® also supports
participants to find an appropriate language to address emotional aspects of the
topic and express these. The fact that the discussions concentrate on the models
and not on the participants, helps them to negotiate challenging aspects in a fair and
solution-orientated way. Even if there is occasionally some initial resistance against
‘playing’ with LEGO® in a university setting, the overwhelming majority of my
students were, by the end of the workshop (at the latest), enthusiastic about this
method.
27
The next step in my LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® practice will be to test if LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® is suitable to be used as a qualitative research method for
students’ research projects and to develop concepts that enable students to plan
short LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® sessions by themselves.
2.8 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to develop reflection in undergraduate Fashion
Art students
Contributed by Lesley Raven (email: l.raven@mmu.ac.uk)
Programme Leader BA (Hons.) Fashion Art Direction, Manchester School of Art,
Manchester Metropolitan University
I am an early career researcher undertaking a Doctorate in Education and
investigating the pedagogies of reflective practice within HE art and design. From
undertaking this doctoral research I am interested in alternative methods of
reflection, other than a written format, in order to facilitate more meaningful
responses that resonate with the student and hopefully lead to threshold concept
moments (Meyer & Land, 2003).
I use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with first year undergraduate students to promote
initial understanding of reflective practice. Students are first asked to simply create a
model that represented them; they subsequently discuss these constructions as a
group to situate these perceptions. They are next asked to consider amending the
model to fit with their current perception of themselves since starting the course
(hence facilitating reflection for before and after starting university).
Most recent responses by students to the two set tasks were insightful. For example:
two students both described their first constructions as unbalanced/wobbly; both of
their amended constructions were more stable and ‘anchored’ or ‘safe’, which on
additional comparison of the two, suggested to the student that their course of study
was ‘right’ for them and they were feeing grounded on the course.
This was insightful; it facilitated the students to reflect meaningfully, which I did not
think would have occurred without use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® inspired
activities. I continue to facilitate reflection using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with the
L4 as well as introduce this to L5 and L6 students.
Reference
Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge
(1): linkages to ways of thinking and practising, in Rust, C. (ed.) Improving Student
Learning ten years on. Oxford: OCSLD
2.9 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for Academic Support
contributed by Graham Barton (email: g.p.barton@arts.ac.uk)
Academic Support Coordinator, University of the Arts London
Our use of LEGO in our Academic Support offer builds on the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® method. We use certain processes from this method to help students work
through creative blocks, unpack values, ethics and beliefs that might be driving (or
28
hindering) the development of work, and to visualise complex ideas. Workshops are
offered on a range of topics, such as: disciplinary and interdisciplinary interpretations
of concepts, visualising and sharing ontological and methodological positions, and
modelling theses, projects, essays and research design. Overall, we find that
through our interpretation and use of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, we are
able to help students to make sense, create meaning and achieve insights into self
and others’ contexts.
Alongside its reflective or contemplative uses, a LEGO® construction built through
the process acts as a mediator for communicating with others, and as a way to ‘hold’
a collective enquiry about complex issues among groups: creating shared models of
complex phenomena is a powerful process for fostering collaborative insight and
participation.
Alongside our multi-disciplinary, University-wide, offer that is open to all students, the
method also helps us to work with individual cohorts: in 2015, we worked closely with
the MA Art and Science students at Central Saint Martins to enable them to visualize
how they would each integrate their differing aspirations for their research into their
final degree show space itself an integrated piece. Heather Barnett, the pathway
leader, and I settled on a range of generative questions for the group, and it was
over to them. The students created a short film that gives an insight into the process
their work says it all!
Watch a clip created that showcases some of the LEGO® work done at the
University of the Arts London
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTwWTHqgKTk&feature=youtu.be
2.10 Making human connections through LEGO
Contributed by Lisa Higgins (email l.higgins@mmu.ac.uk)
Senior Lecturer, School of Healthcare Science, Manchester Metropolitan University
A LEGO and Moodle session was organised during induction week, September 2017
for 250 BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science Level 4 Students to help, personal tutors
connect with their personal tutees and help them set up their email signature and
facilitate Moodle understanding.
Students were asked to log on to a specific Moodle unit area and find the LEGO®
instructions. In the Instructions, students are initially asked to build a house to
ascertain they can all build. Once completed they are asked to build a LEGO®
structure in less than 3 minutes from the bricks provided to demonstrate their
“Journey to university”. This could include education, personal goals attained or
anything that has been part of your journey to get to university. They are advised it is
not what it looks like that maters but what it represents to them.
The students are asked to email a picture of the LEGO® structure and a short
message about themselves and their structure. This information will facilitate an
initial conversation in their personal tutor meeting.
The feedback from staff and students were positive as staff felt that this approach
helped encourage a dialogue with the student and highlighted possible support they
29
might find useful during the studies at university. Students said it also helped
connect with their personal tutor in a fun situation and helped set up a professional
email signature and access Moodle. We have decided to implement this in the future
induction due to its success.
2.11 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® defuses boredom
contributed by Haleh Moravej (email h.moravej@mmu.ac.uk)
Senior Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University
I have been using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method and variations of it since
2014 as a positive, creative and fun student-led form of module feedback with first
year Nutritional Sciences students. Since 2015 I have used LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® for my first year module induction sessions too as I would like to compare
the final feedback with initial student expectation at the start of the year for first year
students. I have found the fun, practical, exciting, colourful and creative way of using
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to fit my style of teaching and the module I teach.
I was encouraged by my teaching and learning mentor Dr Chrissi Nerantzi to start
looking at alternative methods of capturing student feedback where we focus on
students' journey throughout a module and we look at positive feedback as well as
areas for development in a constructive way that help both lecturers and the
students to take responsibility for learning.
When I use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for induction as my first practical session, the
students are a little confused but as soon, theories are explained, students start
using their LEGO bricks to build and to construct their individual and unique models.
I have used LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® inspired activities for students to get to know
each other. I also get a chance to gain insights and better understand my students’
expectations and style of working and learning. Using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® at
the start and at the end of a module helps me estimate and understand growth in
student confidence. To start using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® I have to admit that I
was a little concerned. Would the students think I was actually doing it as a serious
session? Would the students feel patronised that instead of serious academic work I
was asking them to play?
The truth is that LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® transformed the way I conducted
induction and how I capture end of the module feedback. An uninspiring act of ticking
boxes and writing some comments was suddenly turned into a creative and
meaningful experience. The playfulness of using LEGO and perhaps its
associations for many with childhood produced a relaxed atmosphere where
students where lying on the floor and really enjoying themselves.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® defused the boredom that often accompanies these kinds
of more administrative activities, especially for students who are still settling into
university right at the start and once they finish their first year. Students started
playing, creating and talking and actually having fun, opened up and shared their
honest thoughts about the module, which is exactly what I was looking for.
30
The use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® inspired activities for module feedback has led
to a research activity with my mentor and one of my students. This has been
disseminated through conferences and also led to a publication (Nerantzi, Moravej &
Johnson, 2015)
References
Nerantzi, C., Moravej, H. & Johnson, F. (2015) Play brings openness or using a
creative approach to evaluate an undergraduate unit and move forward together,
JPAAP, Vol 3, No. 2, pp. 82-91, available
at http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/141
2.12 LEGO as re-immersion
contributed by Prof. Rebecca Lawthom (email r.lawthom@mmu.ac.uk)
Professor of Community Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University
LEGO® is for many of us a return to some aspects of childhood and memory
work. Interested in the psychological aspects of LEGO practice, I carved out time to
undertake the LEGO® workshop series, provided by Chrissi Nerantzi. She led us
through LEGO® usage as serious play, pushing me to think about how to use LEGO
in learning and teaching.
My teaching is around Community Psychology and I decided to use it in a final year
(level 6) module for BSc Psychology. The Module is entitled Child, Community and
Society, interrogating ways in which childhood, as a concept is embedded
in constructions and activities that lie outside the child. For example, norms around
age of marriage, educational provision differ across communities and society. Using
psychology and using the self, students are encouraged to reflect on their own
childhoods. Using literature from developmental psychology and Global
data on children, allows students to consider their own positionality.
Being a third-year option, the course is popular with students wanting to go on to
teach, or become educational psychologists. In the LEGO® session, we used the
idea of children's development being nested in systems: familial, geographical and
religious community, school; society (policy). This exercise was structured around
LEGO® where students build their own interpretation of a nested system reflecting
their own context. The activity was fantastically well received with students creatively
exploring how they saw and understood their own development. Not only did the
LEGO® provoke memories of creativity and childhood but enabled deeper
exploration of the issues. Each student presented their model and the class
contributed feedback, comparing gaps in literature, contrasting experiences and
developing future research ideas.
In the student feedback, lots of positive remarks on this session as being the stand
out session of the course. Using LEGO® resulted in positive learning and
engagement.
31
2.13 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with Nursing students
contributed by Dr Catherine Hayes (email: catherine.hayes@sunderland.ac.uk)
Reader in Pedagogic Practice, University of Sunderland
As a Reader in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing at the University of
Sunderland I have been able to embed gamification as an integral part of the
academic curriculum, where teaching reflection and processes of critical reflexivity
are fundamental parts of my role. Developing the capacity of students to articulate
their meaning making of experiential learning from situated learning contexts in
practice based research is a large part of this with Professional Doctorate students.
I have integrated gamification into my teaching sessions over the last twenty years,
as a means of engaging postgraduate students as active learners in sessions that
were designed to facilitate their learning around concepts that were often
challenging.
I have used this method with nursing students, facilitating Professional Practice
learning, in relation to ‘Professional Identity’.
It afforded me the opportunity to introduce the concept of social constructionism to
the students as a means of explaining not just what I was hoping they might learn
from the teaching session in terms of content, but also how.
Qualitative pedagogic research and formal evaluation revealed that LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® had enhanced the capacity of students to articulate the meaning
they made in building professional identity and articulating concepts such as their
aspirations and contributions to practice.
Building resilience with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is my next personal venture with
this method. Resilience is a core attribution of a healthcare workforce that can be
used as an integral part of emotional resilience in the workplace.
2.14 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in myriad contexts
contributed by Prof. Alison James (email alison.james@winchester.ac.uk)
Professor of Learning and Teaching and Director of Academic Quality and
Development, University of Winchester
When I started working with LEGO® in HE it was 2009 and I was at the London
College of Fashion. Most particularly I was trying to come up with a three-
dimensional representation of communities of practice theory, using LEGO. Seeing
my model a colleague recommended I look into LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. I was
instantly intrigued. Long story short, I worked alongside a trained facilitator for 18
months, as we delivered a range of workshops following the method closely. These
adopted the applications for team identity following a root and branch restructuring
which had impacted heavily on staff. They were remarkably effective in helping
32
people resolve and move past the traumas of change. Inspired, I then trained with
Per Kristiansen and developed workshops for students to explore personal and
professional development through LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® techniques (James
and Brookfield, 2014, James 2015, James 2016.) Since that time my use of the
method has been significant in any situation where exploration of a complex topic is
required. This might be for big questions; what is sustainability? how do we motivate
learning? what does doctoral research look like? Or for roles; what makes a good
Erasmus partner? How can we maximise potential in our team? Or for aspects of
curriculum and academic practice; evaluating staff/student industry partnerships or
for designing courses. To use a cliché, the list is endless.
Through many years of working with alternative ways of reflecting on
experience/learning I have come to understand that the use of different media
generates different messages. As we have already seen, the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® approach is founded on a constructionist basis that we learn best when we
build things. Over time I have learned that what we talk about when we build, as
opposed to when we draw, speak, walk and talk, or write, are often quite distinct in
tone and content. This is part of the value of the method that it rounds out
consideration of a topic from multiple angles.
Just recently a helper at a LEGO-based workshop for schoolchildren observed to me
that things like LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® were ok for kids, but had no place in a
university. Not only that, but that there was no evidence that the method had any
benefit. The strength of their conviction even before they had experienced it at all -
got me thinking. How do I know LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® techniques make a
difference? First and foremost, by the positive ways people respond to the activities
and by the conversations they have, during and after workshops. In sessions this is
seen in energy, emotion, interest, interaction. Afterwards, participation often
perpetuates through continued conversations, changes in practice, ideas for more
LEGO-based or different activities. Demand is another obvious indicator; in the
numbers of students who have taken part in workshops using LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® methods (1200 on one of my modules alone, by the time I left LCF); from
staff inviting me to help design classes, interventions, projects; by the numbers of
colleagues who have asked me how they too can use LEGO® or train as facilitators;
by the numbers of invitations I get to run workshops or speak at conferences and
from the feedback I get from all of these. The growth in number of accredited
facilitators and the increasing use of the method, as evidenced by the way it has
inspired stories in this book, are a clear sign that it has tremendous value.
2.15 Professional discussions: Using LEGO in assessment in Educational
Development
contributed by Dr Chrissi Nerantzi (email c.nerantzi@mmu.ac.uk)
Principal lecturer academic CPD, University Teaching Academy, UTA (until March
2019 known as the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching), Manchester
Metropolitan University
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® inspired activities were used with students, who are
members of teaching staff teaching at university, studying towards the Postgraduate
Certificate in Academic Practice at the University of Salford in the context of their
33
summative assessment for the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education module
which is a Professional Discussion with the module tutor and an external panel
member. Students were invited to create individual LEGO® models through which
they shared their learning from the module.
Students were given 30 minutes in advance of the Professional Discussion to create
their models. At the start of the assessment, students talked about their model with
the panel members and were asked a few questions to clarify specific aspects when
needed. It was noted that the models provided a useful hook for reflection and a
focus for the student. It also made them feel more relaxed about the assessment
process and broke the ice at the beginning of the discussion and helped the student
to open up. As a result, the conversation was richer, more reflective and enabled the
panel to gain a deeper insight into student’s learning. Models were all photographed
and added to students’ digital portfolios. This provided an opportunity for reflection
and self-assessment (Nerantzi & Despard, 2014).
Overall, the LEGO® approach was received positively by students and panel
members. There were some reservations expressed by a very small minority of
students who felt less able to fully engage with the process because of its novelty. The
assessment outcomes, reflective accounts and discussions with students and panel
members confirm the value and positive impact of this LEGO® intervention.
References
Nerantzi, C. & Despard, C. (2014). LEGO models to aid reflection. Enhancing the
summative assessment experience in the context of Professional Discussions within
accredited Academic Development provision, in: Journal of Perspectives in Applied
Academic Practice, Edinburgh Napier University, Vol 2, Number 2, July 2014, pp. 31-
36, available at http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/81
34
PART 3: Activity prompts
This part consists of suggestions for a wide range of activities inspired by LEGO®
SERIOUS PLAY® that can be used and adapted for different HE settings. We call
them prompts because they do not give you a complete set of instructions to create
a LEGO-based workshop, but rather some questions and builds you might integrate
into something of your own design. The aim of these prompts, together with the
materials already referenced, processes outlined and stories told is help individuals,
practitioners, researchers and learners start designing LEGO-based activities for
their own contexts and needs.
The activity prompts are organised into the following sections:
warm-ups
learning and teaching
recognition of teaching (HEA)
educational development (Fellowship of SEDA)
using learning technologies (Certified Membership of ALT)
academic coaching and mentoring
research
Here is a brief reminder of the stages of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Process
described earlier:
1. Step 1: Posing the question
2. Step 2: Building the model
3. Step 3: Sharing the model
4. Step 4: Shared reflection
It is recommended that in designing workshops following the method closely that all
four stages are included. In this part of the booklet however you will mostly find
prompts that focus on step 2, with some suggestion of topics or questions thrown in.
Therefore, they are only part of the above described process and you will need to
create the additional surrounding structure yourself. As with any learning activity,
thinking about why you are using LEGO. What is your main purpose? What kinds of
instructions do you want to provide (or not)? Who are using this activity with? What
kind of preparation or facilitation do you need to be mindful of?
An illustration of what a 4 step activity might look like is included in this box:
Topic: Identity
Step 1: Posing the question: Who are you as a professional? (You can flesh this
out in any way you like)
Step 2: Building the model: Make a model that shows who you are as a
professional. (Remind builders that they will be speaking through their model,
therefore it needs to be able to represent all the different things they might want
to say)
35
Step 3: Sharing the model: Allow all members of the group/ a partner to talk the
others through their model.
Step 4: Shared reflection: Ask for clarification/further information by asking
questions about the model and/or different parts of it. (Encourage those listening
to show they have paid attention through asking questions or commenting, but
not interpreting)
1.
Use the above described format when designing your activities using the prompts
included in this part of the booklet.
3.1 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® warm-up prompts
It is important to remember to start with a brief warm-up activity, especially if it is the
first time LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® or an activity inspired by it is being used with a
specific group. This will help participants practise putting LEGO bricks together and
become more confident in the technical side of using the bricks, as well as transition
from building something that exists in the physical world to constructing models that
have a metaphorical meaning.
The warm-up activities are normally done individually within a group and focus on
building while also introducing the sharing of the models created. The various
publications and training materials on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, as well as our
own, make explicit how participants should be working. On their own? In a group?
They also give guidance on how to help participants become comfortable with
developing their own metaphorical language. Some will dive straight in and be
instantly articulate, others might struggle to move away from the literal. In such
cases using animals or recognisable bricks and working as a group to generate
associations and possibilities.
With participants who are familiar with the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® approach you
might also like to engage them in coming up with their own warm-up activities; a
deviation from the method but one that fits with a student-centred and co-design
approach to workshop facilitation.
Sample warm-up prompts
Set 1 (for new group)
Make a tower.
Make an animal (using six bricks).
Add something to this animal that shows that this is your animal i.e. personal to you.
Set 2 (for new and more experienced groups)
Make a wall.
Make a bridge.
Add something to this wall that says something about you.
Set 3 (for a more experienced group)
Make a vehicle.
Add something that shows that this is your vehicle.
36
Set 4 (for a more experienced group)
Make a plant.
Add something that shows that this is your plant.
37
3.2 Activity prompts for learning and teaching
This section offers prompts for creating activities inspired by LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® principles and applications. These can be used in specific learning and
teaching contexts across a wide range of programmes and modules, disciplines and
professional areas. Some may be about how you feel about progress or how you
have worked together; others, like unpacking big topics, may be something you want
to explore as you and your students embark on a new and complex exploration. This
might be about a threshold concept in your discipline semiotics in English
Language, ergonomics in Engineering, the principles of human-centred design, the
application of the UN Sustainable Goals and their implications for study, society, life.
And so on. They will all be a means of enabling everyone in the room to contribute
from their perspective, to find common ground and areas of dissonance and
surprise. All of this helps round out participants’ experience and understanding.
The prompts are gathered into the following areas
Identity, relationships, belonging
Reflection and evaluation
Team building
Ideas generation for projects
Understanding a process, a theory
Unpacking big topics
At this point we are expecting that the guidance we have offered earlier and through
wider publications/experiences will be sufficient for you to think about how you might
use such prompts in your own contexts. They are partial activities not a whole
lesson plan, however so you will need to situate them in your own contexts, and
expand on them as you see fit. The kinds of questions that you will want to pose to
explore these prompts will be for you as facilitator to identify and use, while the
builds which will result and what your participants might want to say are impossible
entirely to predict even if some themes or metaphors are recurrent ones. If you are
already experienced in using LEGO®-related approaches or the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® method you will no doubt be able to dive in. You probably have a whole heap
of your own ideas to suggest!
So, as you scroll through the different prompts which follow, don’t forget to think
about
How you have prepared for the session room set up, timings, purpose of the
activity, the nature of your group all the good stuff you naturally take care of
as a teacher
The skills you will need to employ as a facilitator; for example, the kinds of
questions you will pose that will enable everyone to participate quickly and be
invested in the tasks; whether or not anyone might be reluctant or resistant to
getting involved; how you might encourage people to unpack their thoughts,
without being too pushy or invasive. How do you want people to work together?
Let’s take the first two questions in the Identity prompt set in the following list as
examples. How might you integrate asking such questions and building into
response to them into a workshop or class, or even a one to one session, such as a
38
tutorial or coaching meeting. (Each of these has their own specific needs, so
obviously you will tailor their use accordingly)
You might use questions of identity with students coming into HE, who are feeling
nervous about their place at a university. What is your purpose in asking them to
create a model of who they are as a learner? To settle them down and create spaces
for conversation? To enable them to identify and visualise their strengths and what
they bring to the table? What their expectations and goals might be?
Or in a coaching situation you might invite your coachee (more on coaching anon!) to
consider who they are, and where they are currently as a professional. If you are
engaged in a coaching relationship with someone they have presumably come to
you with a desire to reframe or find their direction, deal with an issue, become
‘unstuck’ professionally in some way. First of all they often need to explore where
they are right now, and by building and visualising who they are, and the context in
which they work, and the opportunities/challenges on their horizons they start to
realise that what they thought they wanted to tackle and what they actually need to
tackle might be very different things.
Identity, relationships, belonging
Sample questions
1. Make a model that shows who you are as a learner/professional.
2. Make a model that shows who you would like to become as a
learner/professional and how you could get there.
Other suggestions
Make a model that shows your key strengths and how you use these.
Add a red brick to your model that represents the strength you use the least. Why is
this?
What could you do about it?
Make a model to show what your expectations are from your course/this term/this
module.
Use a green brick to mark on your model what matters most for you.
Make a shared model that captures the collective expectations of your group.
(for a group who know each other already, at least a little bit)
Make a model of the individual named on the post-it note capturing how you see
them.
Share your model without saying who the model represents.
Find out who is who.
Make a model that shows who you are and how this links to the model created by
your peer about you.
Reflection and evaluation
(share at least with one person)
Make a model to reflect on your recent placement/group work/learning experience.
Make three mini models that illustrate what you have learnt.
39
Make a model that shows the challenges you faced in your last assessment/module.
Add a red brick to highlight your biggest challenge. What are you going to do about
it?
Make a model for one of your peers that would help them resolve their biggest
challenge.
Make a model to reflect on the recent field trip/life exhibition.
Create a shared model that shows your collective experience.
What are you taking away from this?
In pairs, each make a model to reflect on your group member's contribution to the
project.
Make a mini model that shows how you feel what your peer has shared about
you. (Share your model with the make of the original model).
Team building
Make an individual model that shows what working in a group means to you.
Share your model with the group.
Make a shared model as a group that captures your collective understanding of
group working.
Make a model that shows what you bring to the group.
Add a green brick to illustrate your key strength.
Make a mini model that shows an area you need to develop.
Make a model that shows your nightmare/ideal group member.
Create a shared model that brings all the characteristics of this person together.
Make a model that shows what effective group working means to you.
Make a mini model that shows how you will contribute to this and one that shows
what help you would need.
Ideas generation for projects
Read the project brief carefully and create three mini models that capture your
project ideas.
Add the key challenge you would experience implementing each of the mini models
that capture your ideas.
Revisit your mini models. Share them and decide which idea you are taking forward.
You were given a selection of project ideas. Select the one you would like to explore
further and make a model that shows where you would like to take this idea.
Make a process model that shows the steps you would follow to work on your
project.
Reflect on your model and review it based on your exchanges.
Make a model that depicts your ideas for a group project.
Each person adds up to three green bricks to their favourite ideas.
Which idea are you going to take forward as a group?
40
Make as many mini models as possible that shows how a specific
product/concept/idea could be used in a range of contexts.
Add up to three green bricks to your favourite ideas.
Understanding a process, a theory
Make a model that captures your understanding on the process/concept/theory X.
Add a red brick to the section you find challenging.
Reflect on your model and make any changes us a result of your conversation.
After reading chapter/paper/article make a model that shows your understanding
from this.
Use a green brick to show what stood out for you.
Reflect on your model and identify if there is anything you wish to change.
Make a model that shows your understanding of a specific theory.
Make a shared model that shows your collective understanding of this theory.
Individually, add a red brick to what you find most confusing/challenging.
Make a model that shows how a specific theoretical approach can be useful for
practice.
Reflect on your model. Is there anything you would like to add/change?
Unpacking big topics
Make a model that represents what [insert topic of your choice or popular
educational buzzword here e.g. sustainability/teaching excellence/learning gain]
means to you.
Describe and share your models in turn within your group. What resonances or
differences do you note?
Group your models together in a shared network, thinking about how each one might
relate to another.
Review your network; is anything, or anyone missing?
Mark up the areas of the model where you feel practice in your context is already
strong (you might also like to amplify this by making additional mini models that
make explicit what these strengths are)
Where are the gaps, the weak links? Make further mini models to represent these.
What do you need to do next? [for deeper exploration of such topics you can either
draw on the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® applications provided through training
manuals and other sources, or design your own activity)
41
3.3 Prompts for recognition of teaching (HEA Fellowship)
The Higher Education Academy, since 2018 part of Advance HE, formally
recognises teaching through the UK Professional Standards Framework and also
has established a series of awards to celebrate teaching excellence. In this section
prompts are shared that can support both of these.
Activities supporting professional recognition of teaching
The UK Professional Standards Framework (UK PSF) by the Higher Education
Academy in collaboration with the sector provides a scaffold to explore the use of
LEGO-based activities linked its four Descriptors: D1 (Associate Fellow), D2
(Fellow), D3 (Senior Fellow) and D4 (Principal Fellow).
Activities linked to the Descriptors and the Areas of Activities of the UK PSF have
been included that can be further tailored and contextualised to a specific
professional development, learning and teaching situation aligned with relevant Core
Knowledge and Professional Values (see Table 1).
Table 3.3 The Dimensions of the UK PSF (adapted from HEA, 2011, p.3)
Areas of Activity
Core Knowledge
Professional Values
AA1 Design and plan
learning activities and/or
programmes of study
AA2 Teach and/or support
learning
AA3 Assess and give
feedback to learners
AA4 Develop effective
learning environments
and approaches to
student support and
guidance
AA5 Engage in continuing
professional development
in subjects/disciplines and
their pedagogy,
incorporating research,
scholarship and the
evaluation of professional
practice
CK1 The subject material
CK2 Appropriate methods
for teaching and learning
in the subject area and at
the level of the academic
programme
CK3 How students learn,
both generally and within
their subject/disciplinary
area
CK4 The use and value of
appropriate learning
technologies
CK5 Methods for
evaluating the
effectiveness of teaching
CK6 The implications of
quality enhancement for
academic and
professional practice with
a particular focus on
teaching
PV1 Respect individual
learners and diverse
learning communities
PV2 Promote
participation in higher
education and equality of
opportunities for learners
PV3 Use evidence-
informed approaches and
the outcomes from
research, scholarship and
continuing professional
development
PV4 Acknowledge the
wider context in which
higher education
operates for professional
practice
42
The UK PSF in this context helps to discuss in more depth specific aspects around
learning and teaching with academic staff and students.
The activities are arranged in the following sub-sections:
Activities for Descriptor D1 (Associate Fellow) and D2 (Fellow)
Activities for Descriptor D3 (Senior Fellow) and D4 (Principal Fellow)
Each of the activities should be no longer than 3-5 minutes for the main model
building tasks. Some of the activities are suitable for professional development with
academic staff and others with students. There is also an opportunity to engage
academic staff and students together in some of them.
Notes: As we have already made clear, you can explore and devise activities using
LEGO on a whole spectrum of detail. You can use the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
approach, which is systematic, developmental and goes into some breadth and
depth over time. Or you can create much shorter activities which still have the
metaphorical and visually representative nature of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and
other creative approaches (such as Ketso or other non-proprietary approaches of
which there are countless examples. The common territory for our examples is the
inclusion of LEGO bricks, but the route you adopt to use them is of your choosing.
If you have hopped straight to this section, rather than reading the previous one,
please don’t forget our reminders of the 4 stage process you can adopt when
designing activities. This is an element of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, but
also highly resonant of reflective models created by Kolb and others.
Activities for Descriptor D1(Associate Fellow) and D2 (Fellow)
AA1 Planning and organising
(with academic staff)
Build a model that shows what you do when planning a session.
Add a red brick that highlights what you spent most time on.
Reflect on your model, what could you do differently?
(with students)
Build a model that shows how you plan to organise your study for a specific
assessment.
Add a green brick that highlights your strength/Add a red brick that highlights an area
you might have difficulty with.
Reflect on your model, what could you do differently?
(with students)
Build a model that shows what a nightmare module/programme would look like for
you.
Reflect on your model, what could you do about it? Create three mini models to
illustrate your ideas.
(with academic staff/students)
Build a model that shows the features of your ideal module.
Add a green brick to show what on your model is the most important feature for you.
As a group, put together 3/5/10 top features for a module.
43
AA2 Teaching and supporting students
(with academic staff)
Build a model that shows what the challenges are when you teach/support students.
Build three mini models that show how you could resolve your biggest challenge.
(with students)
Build a model that shows what you enjoy the most in a session?
As a group create a shared model that shows what you enjoy collectively.
(with students)
Build a model that shows what you can learn from teaching your peers.
Reflect on your model. In what other ways would teaching peers be valuable for your
studies? What could you do about it? Share with at least one person or the whole
group.
(with academic staff/students)
Build a model that show the learning/teaching strategies that work for you.
Add a green brick to shows what you think the most effective strategy is.
Reflect on your model, what else could work? Capture on a post-it note.
AA3 Supporting assessment and feedback
(with academic staff/students)
Build a model that shows what you find most challenging in assessment/feedback.
Swap models with another person and build a model on how you could overcome
one of the challenges captured in the model made by the other person.
Share your solution with the maker of the original model.
(with students)
Build a model that shows the benefits/challenges of evaluating your own work/your
peers’ work.
Reflect on your model, what else would you add?
(with students)
Build a model that depicts the ideal feedback on your work.
Create a shared model that depicts your ideal feedback collectively.
Build additional models/adjust the ones that you have already built to answer the
following questions:
How far does this differ from the feedback you receive currently?
What impact has feedback had on your work?
How can you address any gaps or issues with this?
(with academic staff)
Build a model that shows the assessment strategies you use in a specific module.
Add a red or green brick depending the effectiveness of each strategy.
Reflect on your model. What else could you try and what difference could this make
potentially?
AA4 Learning environments
44
(with academic staff)
Make a model that shows how you use/could use technologies to create a
stimulating and inclusive learning environment.
What else could you do? Revisit your model and share.
What obstacles do you face in using technology?
What solutions can you devise in your models to overcome these?
(with students)
Make a model that shows how the learning environment impacts on your learning.
Add up to three green bricks to signalise what affects you the most positively.
(with academic staff/students)
Make a model that shows your nightmare learning environment.
Reflect on your model and make up to three mini models that depict your solutions
about how this nightmare situation can be avoided.
(with academic staff/students)
Build a model of an inclusive learning environment. What does one look like?
What do you do to create an inclusive learning environment?
Arrange your models after sharing into a group network of models
What is your biggest challenge? Create a mini model that depicts this.
Share your mini model with one person. Reflect on your challenge and problem-
solve together.
AA5 Professional development
(with academic staff/students)
Build a model that depicts the professional development activities you undertake to
develop your teaching/practice.
Revisit your model and add anything you had forgotten.
How effective have these activities been in developing you? Add features to your
model/s
What else could you do? Capture on a post-it note.
(with academic staff/students)
Make a model that shows who you are as a professional (teacher) today.
Make a model that shows how you think others see you.
Make a model who you would like to become?
(with academic staff)
Make a model that shows your scholarly approach to learning and teaching?
Reflect on your model and create a mini model that shows what else you would like
to try.
(with academic staff/students)
Build a model that shows how you evaluate your practice.
Use a red brick to show which aspect of it you find most challenging.
What could you stop doing? Remove this part from your model and explain the
difference this could make.
Activities for Descriptor D3 (Senior Fellow) and D4 (Principal Fellow)
45
D3.7 Supervision and/or mentoring of colleagues
Build a model that shows how you support and/or mentor colleagues internally
and/or externally.
Identify your biggest success stories and create at least three mini models to reflect
on and illustrate these.
Build a model that shows the nature of the evidence you have that your approaches
to supervising and/or mentoring colleagues have had an impact on them and their
practice.
How do you know that you have had an impact? Adjust your model to reflect this
knowledge/evidence
Build a model that shows your supporting and/or mentoring philosophy? Who/what
has influenced and shaped your related practice?
Add a green brick to the area on your model that shows what influenced you the
most.
D4.2 Strategic leadership
Build a model that shows your strategic leadership qualities.
Mark, using a green brick, the area on your model that shows what you are the most
proud of.
Build a model that shows what leadership theories and approaches have influenced
you.
Build three mini models that show how these theories or approaches are expressed
in your strategic leadership practice.
Build as many mini models as possible that show the key impact your strategic
leadership has had on your institution or externally.
Build a model that shows what wider changes your strategic leadership has
triggered.
Activities supporting teaching excellence
The HEA has established a range of awards to celebrate and reward outstanding
teaching at personal, collective and institutional level. These are the National
Teaching Fellowship Award, the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence and
the Global Teaching Excellence Award.
The related activities are arranged in the following sub-sections:
Activities supporting National Teaching Fellowship applications
Activities supporting Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence applications
Activities supporting the Global Teaching Excellence Award
Activities supporting National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) applications
The National Teaching Fellowships introduced by the HEA in 2000 give an
opportunity to individuals teaching or supporting learning in Higher Education in
England, Northern Ireland and Wales to be recognises for their individual teaching
excellence. The selection criteria are the following:
46
Criterion 1: Individual excellence
Criterion 2: Raising the profile of excellence
Criterion 3: Developing excellence
The activities that follow have been aligned to these three criteria presented above.
Further information about the National Teaching Fellowship Award can be found at
https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/individuals/national-teaching-fellowship-scheme/NTF
The following will enable you to reflect on who you are as an excellent practitioner
and construct an introductory paragraph.
Introduction to self
Build a model that shows your key milestones through life and how you have arrived
where you are today.
Add a green brick to the area that illustrates what brought you into academia.
i
Build a model that illuminates your philosophy of learning and teaching.
What do you feel most passionate about?
Build a model that illustrates how you inspire students and colleagues.
Build another model that shows what this means to you.
Criterion 1: Individual excellence: evidence of enhancing and transforming the
student learning experience commensurate with the individual’s context and
the opportunities afforded by it.
Build a model that shows what makes you an excellent practitioner.
Build three mini models that show your initiative in creating opportunities to transform
student learning within and beyond your institution.
Build a model that shows what strategies you have used in transforming the student
experience locally and nationally.
Build three models that showcase where you have been instrumental in making
change happen locally and nationally.
What is your biggest achievement? Add a green brick to your model to show this.
How do you know you have transformed learning? Adjust your model so that this is
clear
Criterion 2: Raising the profile of excellence: evidence of supporting
colleagues and influencing support for student learning; demonstrating impact
and engagement beyond the nominee’s immediate academic or professional
role.
Build a model that shows your rationale for helping others become excellent and
what this means to you.
Build a model that shows how you have supported/mentored and inspired colleagues
to become excellent teachers.
Use a green brick to mark your biggest success story.
Build a mini model that shows how this makes you feel.
47
Build a model that shows three situations where your support/mentoring role make a
significant contribution to a colleague’s teaching excellence.
Criterion 3: Developing excellence: evidence of the nominee’s commitment to
her/his ongoing professional development with regard to teaching and
learning and/or learning support.
Build a model that demonstrates the importance ongoing professional development
has for you as a practitioner.
Build a model that shows key professional development activities you undertake to
enhance your teaching practice and/or supporting students.
Build a model to show the impact your professional development has had on your
practice and the student experience.
Activities supporting Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE)
applications
The Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence introduced by the HEA in 2016
give an opportunity to teams teaching or supporting learning in Higher Education in
England and Wales to be recognised for their collective teaching excellence. Each
institution can submit up to one submission for CATE. An NTF can be a team
member but not lead the team. The selection criteria for Stage 1 and Stage 2 follow
as noted in HEA (2018)
https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/downloads/CATE%202018%20-
%20Reviewer%20Guidance.pdf
Stage 1 Criteria
a clear set of aims, objectives and rationale for the team’s approach and how the group
constitutes a team and developed as a team
working collaboratively and how collaborative working has been an advantage
demonstration of direct involvement of students with the team
illustration of how the team has addressed one clear thematic issue, for example:
assessment and feedback; retention, employability, staff development; students as
partners; technology and social media
creative solutions to a challenge, situation, problem provision
detailed comment on the impact of the outcomes/outputs of the collaborative work
how the collaborative work has enhanced student learning
Supporting Stage 1
Team approach
Build a model that shows how you work together as a team.
Add a green brick to your model to show where your collective strength lies.
Build a shared model bringing together your collective strength.
Student involvement
48
Build a model that shows how students have been directly involved in your team
working
Build three mini models to show specific examples from practice and the impact
these have had.
Collaborative working, outputs and impact
Build three mini models that shows your team approach to collaborative working,
outputs and impact (one for each).
Build three shared models that synthesise your thoughts around collaborative
working, outputs and impact (one for each) at team level.
Collaborative working and impact on student learning
Build a model that shows the characteristics of your team approach to collaborative
working.
Build three mini models to illustrate the impact your collaborative working has had on
student learning.
Engagement with a specific thematic area
Build a model that shows how the team has come together and focused on a specific
thematic area.
Build a shared model to articulate this thematic area more fully taking into account
features from individual team member models.
Creative solutions
Build a model that shows your creative capacity as a team to come up with
innovative solutions.
Build a shared model to synthesise your thoughts around this.
Stage 2 Criteria
a coherent plan of dissemination with objectives
demonstration of stakeholder engagement in the dissemination process
demonstration of embedding cutting-edge practice
clarity with regard to dissemination tools
manageable timeframe
details of evaluation and the measurement of impact
Supporting Stage 2
A coherent plan of dissemination with objectives
Build a model that shows how your team could disseminate their collective work.
Build a shared model that shows the key ideas from the individual models.
Demonstration of stakeholder engagement in the dissemination process
Build at least three mini models showing how you plan to engage different
stakeholders in the dissemination process.
Build corresponding mini models to show what difference these stakeholders can
make to the dissemination process.
Demonstration of embedding cutting-edge practice
49
Build a model that shows how your team will embed cutting-edge practice.
Create three mini models that show that this change could mean.
Come together and create a landscape that brings your individual ideas together
How do you know that your efforts have been successful?
Clarity with regard to dissemination tools
Build a model that shows the dissemination tools you feel are appropriate for the
team.
Add a green brick to mark the most important one on your model.
Build a shared model bringing your key ideas together using the green brick areas
you have identified on your individual models.
How do you know the effect they have?
Manageable timeframe
Build a model that shows your plan to disseminate your collective work in relevant
contexts.
Add a red brick to identify the biggest challenge.
Details of evaluation and the measurement of impact
Build a model that shows how you as a team could evaluate your collective work and
measure impact.
Build a landscape to bring all ideas together and show their relationship to each
other.
How do you know that your measurements are valid?
50
3.4 Prompts for educational development (Fellowship of SEDA)
The professional body for educational developers is the Staff and Educational
Development Association (SEDA) The SEDA website can be found at
https://www.seda.ac.uk/. Specialist courses are offered by SEDA to help educational
developers gain deeper insights into the profession and gain Fellowship of SEDA
(FSEDA). Through the submission of a portfolio of evidence educational developers
can also gain Senior Fellowship of SEDA (SFSEDA). Furthermore, FSEDAs and
SFSEDAs, provide annually evidence of CPD.
The activities in this section, aim to help new and more experienced educational
developers reflect on their journey as educational developers as part of their formal
or informal CPD. The activities aim to engage individuals with the SEDA Professional
Development Framework that can be accessed at https://www.seda.ac.uk/what-is-
seda-pdf and have been summarised in the following table.
Table 3.4 SEDA Professional Development Framework (adapted from SEDA, online)
Values
Development outcomes
Specialist outcomes
linked to the Staff and
Educational
Development Award
Developing understanding
how people learn
Practising in ways that
are scholarly, professional
and ethical
Working with and
developing learning
communities
Valuing diversity and
promoting inclusivity
Continually reflecting on
practice to develop
ourselves, others and
processes
Identify their own
professional development
goals, directions or
priorities
Plan for their initial and /
or continuing professional
development
Undertake appropriate
development activities
Review their development
and their practice, and the
relations between them.
Identify goals for staff and
educational development
processes
Plan staff and educational
development processes
towards achievement of
these goals
Facilitate processes to
achieve the agreed goals
Monitor and evaluate the
effectiveness and the
acceptability of the
development processes
With the client, identify
appropriate follow-up
development activity.
Values
Developing understanding of how people learn
Make a model that shows your understanding of how people learn.
Make a model that shows a difficulty you experienced when helping somebody to
learn something.
Make a second model that shows what you did to overcome this difficulty.
Reflect on your second model and think, what else you could have done.
Make a model that shows an ideal way of helping others learn and develop.
51
Make a mini model for somebody else suggesting a way to make it happen.
Practising in ways that are scholarly, professional and ethical
Make a model that shows characteristics of your scholarly approach to educational
development.
What does scholarship look like to you? In your field?
Use a red brick to show an area you would like to develop further.
Make a model that shows what it means to you to be a professional.
Make three mini models that show how you have applied this professionalism in your
practice.
Make a model that shows your ethical commitment as a professional.
Make a shared model that shows you collective commitment to ethical practice.
Working with and developing learning communities
Make a model that shows a learning community you developed recently.
Mark its key characteristics by adding three green bricks to your model.
Make a model that shows how you have worked with or participated in a particular
learning community.
Add a green brick to show something that worked really well and a red brick to
something that was challenging.
Make a model that shows how you go about developing a learning community.
Make a shared model that brings all ideas together.
Valuing diversity and promoting inclusivity
Make a model that shows what inclusivity means to you in your professional context.
What is the most important element? Mark this using a green brick on your model.
Make a model that shows how you value diversity within your professional context.
Make connections between your model and those created by others. What do you
notice?
Make three mini models that show key benefits/challenges of inclusive practice.
Continually reflecting on practice to develop ourselves, others and processes
Make a model that shows your journey as an educational developer in the last
academic year.
Add a red brick to show a key challenge you experienced.
Make a model that shows an example where you have helped somebody to develop
their teaching practice in the last academic year.
Add a green brick to show something you are proud of.
Make a model that shows a new process you introduced in the last academic year.
Create three mini models to show what you are going to do next linked to this
process.
52
Development outcomes
Identify their own professional development goals, directions or priorities
Make a model that show your professional development goals.
Use a red brick to show what is most important to you.
Make three models that show where you would like to be in one year, three years
and five years.
Make three more models that show how you will get there.
Make a model that shows your development needs for the next five years.
Add a red brick to show that the biggest challenge will be.
Plan for their initial and / or continuing professional development
Make a model to show what you plan to do to develop your practice in the next
academic year.
Make a model that shows your plan for initial/continuing professional development.
What else could you do? Create a mini model to illustrate.
As a new educational developer, what do you plan to do in the next academic year to
develop your practice?
[As an ‘old’ educational developer, ask yourself this question and build!]
What else could you try? Create a mini model to show.
Undertake appropriate development activities
Make a model that shows three key development activities you undertook.
Make three mini models that show what difference these activities made to your
practice.
Make two models, one that captures something valuable you learnt through a
specific development activity and one that captures a particular challenge you faced
during this.
Make a model that shows a specific professional development activity you
undertook.
Use a red brick to show a specific challenge you faced.
Review their development and their practice, and the relations between them.
Make a model that shows something you have achieved this year.
Add a red brick to show a particular challenge you faced and how you did overcome
this.
Make a model that shows how your development is shaping your practice.
Add a green brick to show something you are proud of.
Make a model that shows your review of a specific aspect of your practice.
Make a mini model to suggest a development intervention for somebody else.
Specialist outcomes linked to the Staff and Educational Development Award
Identify goals for staff and educational development processes
53
Make a model that shows a nightmare educational development process.
Get into pairs and add a red brick to the model of the other person that shows what
you would find most challenging.
Discuss these challenges on both models and identify a way to resolve these.
Make three mini models that capture educational development goals, based on
institutional priorities and aspirations.
Add a green brick to the model that captures the most important goal for you.
Make a model that shows a specific goal for an educational development process.
Create a shared model that brings all your goals together.
Plan staff and educational development processes towards achievement of
these goals
Make a model that shows specific educational development process you plan to
implement.
Using a red brick highlight the biggest challenge you anticipate.
Create a model for somebody else in the group that depicts how this challenge could
be overcome.
Make a model that shows specific educational development process you plan to
implement to achieve a specific goal.
Using a red brick highlight the biggest opportunity you can see.
Make a model that shows what support you need to achieve your goal linked to the
process you have developed.
Identify the three most important support mechanisms. Use three red bricks to
identify these on your model.
Facilitate processes to achieve the agreed goals
Make a model that shows your plan to achieve a specific goal.
Add a red brick to the area on your model that shows the biggest challenge.
Collectively identify all the challenges you have by constructing a shared model.
Make a model where the process you followed didn’t lead to the desired outcome.
Suggest to another person what you would have done differently based on their
story. Create a model that shows the approach you would have taken.
Create a model of your ideal process to achieve a specific goal.
What do you need to do to make this happen? Create three mini models to
demonstrate this.
Share your mini models with at least one person.
Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and the acceptability of the
development processes
Make a model that shows the strategies you use to monitor and evaluate the
effectiveness of a particular development process.
Add a green brick to indicate something that has worked particularly well.
Create a shared model of your most successful strategies.
54
Make a model to show how you have evaluated a specific development process.
What else could you try? Capture your ideas by making three mini models.
Make a model that shows your ideal monitoring and evaluation process of a
development process.
Use up to three green bricks to indicate your preferred ideas on all models.
What are the top 3/5/10 ideas? Capture these in a shared model.
With the client/colleague, identify appropriate follow-up development activity.
Make a model that shows how you have worked with a client/colleague to design a
particular follow-up development activity.
Use a red brick to show one aspect that was particularly challenging.
Task 1: Make a model that shows a nightmare situation for designing a follow-up
development process.
How can you avoid this happening? Make a mini model to articulate your answer.
Make a model that shows an idea situation for designing a follow-up development
process.
What else could you try? Make a mini model to articulate your answer.
55
3.5 Prompts for using learning technologies (Certified Membership of ALT)
The professional body for learning technologists is the Association for Learning
Technology (ALT). Their website can be found at https://www.alt.ac.uk/
Through ALT, an individual can gain professional recognition in the area of Learning
Technology and become a Certified Member of ALT (CMALT). Furthermore
individuals and teams can be recognised and celebrated for their contribution to the
field of Learning Technology through a series of ALT Awards. The activities that
follow are arranged in the following sections:
Activities supporting CMALT (re-)submissions
Activities supporting ALT Learning Technologist of the Year applications
Activities supporting applications for the annual Award of Research into Learning
Technology
Activities to support CMALT and periodic (re-)submissions for CPD purposes
In order for someone to become a Certified Member of ALT (CMALT), a digital
portfolio is submitted that provides evidence of their related experience and
capabilities linked to the principles and values of ALT, as well as the core areas:
operational issues, teaching, learning and/or assessment processed, the wider
context and communication. Applicants are also invited to provide additional
evidence around at least one specialist area and their plans for the future. Further
information can be found at
https://www.alt.ac.uk/sites/alt.ac.uk/files/CMALT%20Guidelines_2018_NC_ND.pdf
Also see Table 3.5.
Table 3.5.CMALT requirements (adapted from ALT, online)
Principles and values
a commitment to exploring and understanding the interplay between technology and
learning
a commitment to keep up-to-date with new technologies
an empathy with and willingness to learn from colleagues from different backgrounds
and specialisms
a commitment to communicate and disseminate effective practice
Core area (CA) 1:
Operational issues
Core area 2:
Teaching, learning
and/or assessment
processes
Core area 3: The
wider context
Core area 4:
Communication
CA 1.1 an
understanding of
the constraints
and benefits of
different
technology
CA 1.2 technical
knowledge and
CA 2.1 an
understanding of
teaching, learning
and/or assessment
processes
CA 2.2 an
understanding of
your target learners
CA 3.1
understanding and
engaging with
legislation, policies
and standards
CA 3.2 policy
CA 4.1 working
with others
CA 4.2 interface
between human
and technical
systems (not a
requirement but
part of CA 4)
56
ability in the use of
learning
technology
CA 1.3 supporting
the deployment of
learning
technologies
Specialist option(s)
Future plans
For further information, please access https://www.alt.ac.uk/certified-membership.
The following LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® activities are designed to offer help to
applicants who are in the process of applying for CMALT or renewing their CMALT
status. The activities provide opportunities to reflect on their experiences and
capabilities and gather evidence that will help them complete the application as well
as identify areas for further development.
Core area 1: Operational issues
CA 1.1 An understanding of the constraints and benefits of different
technology
Build a model that shows the key benefits of using different technology in your
practice.
Create a shared model that incorporates all your benefits as a group.
Build a model that shows the constraints of using different technology in your
practice.
Create a shared model that incorporates all your constraints as a group.
Build a model that shows one particular constraint of technology in your practice.
Build three mini models that shows how you could overcome this constraint.
CA 1.2 technical knowledge and ability in the use of learning technology
Build a model that illustrates your technical knowledge in using learning technology.
Add a green brick to show the most important characteristic of your approach.
Reflect on your model and identify if you would like to make any modification(s) as a
result of your exchanges.
Build a model that illustrates a specific example of using learning technology
effectively.
Reflect again on this experience and identify what you would do differently. Add
something to your existing model to show this.
Build a model that illustrates your strengths in using learning technology.
Add a green brick to show your key strength in this area.
What are your collective strengths as a group? Capture these through creating a
shared model.
57
CA 1.3 supporting the deployment of learning technologies
Build a model that illustrates three different ways you support the deployment of
technologies.
What else could you try? Create a mini model to illustrate this.
Build a model that illustrates a specific example where you supported the
deployment of technology.
Add a green brick to show what worked well and a red brick to show something that
didn’t work so well.
Build a model that shows one specific case where you supported the deployment of
technology successfully.
Build three mini models that show what success looked like.
Core area 2: Teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
CA 2.1 an understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes
Make a model that shows your understanding of the learning process and the role
technology can play in this.
Make a mini model that shows how you have used this understanding in a specific
context.
Make a model that shows your understanding of what matters most in the teaching
process and the role technology can play in this.
Create a shared model that captures your collective understanding in this area.
Make a model that shows your understanding of assessment and feedback
processes and the role technology can play to support these.
Make three mini models that shows three examples from your practice where you
have used this understanding.
CA 2.2 an understanding of your target learners
Make a model that shows what role learners play in the
teaching/assessment/feedback process.
Make a new model that shows a specific situation where you have applied this
understanding.
Make a model that shows the relationship you have with your learners.
What is most important to you in this relationship? Mark this with a green brick.
Share your green brick with at least one person.
Make a model that shows three common challenges your learners are confronted
with and how you help them overcome these.
What else could you try? Make a mini model to show this.
Core area 3: The wider context
CA 3.1 understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards
Make a model that shows your understanding of legislation in relation to the use of
learning technologies.
58
What have you found most challenging? Add a red brick to your model to illustrate
this.
Make a model that shows your understanding of (institutional) policies in relation to
the use of learning technologies.
What has worked for you? Add a green brick to your model to illustrate this.
Make a model that shows your understanding of the role of standards in relation to
the use of learning technologies.
What have you found particularly useful? Add a green brick to your model to
illustrate this.
What have you found particularly challenging? Add a red brick to your model to
illustrate this.
CA 3.2 policy
Make a model that shows your understanding of the role (institutional/wider) policy
plays in the implementation of learning technologies.
Make a model that shows how policy has supported you in the implementation of
learning technologies in a specific situation.
Create a shared model that brings your collective experiences together.
Make a model that shows a situation where you have influenced policy for the use of
learning technology.
Use a red brick to show what was most challenging in this process.
Reflect on this situation again and create a mini model that shows how you did
overcome this challenge.
Core area 4: Communication
CA 4.1 working with others
Make a model that shows how you work with others.
Make a model that shows the benefits you have experienced when working with
others.
Make a model to show a specific example where working with others was
successful.
Make a model that shows the challenges you have experienced when working with
others.
Make a model to show a specific example where and how you have overcome such
challenges.
C4.2 interface between human and technical systems (not a requirement but
part of CA 4)
Make a model that shows your priorities when designing interventions for human
interaction with technical systems.
Add a red brick to show a difficulty you have identified in this area.
59
What are the three most important aspects when you think about the interface
between human and technical systems. Make a model to capture these.
Create a shared model that shows your thoughts in this area collectively.
Make a model that shows the relationship between institutional and non-institutional
technical systems and the role they play for human interaction.
After reflecting on your original model and sharing this, make any changes/additions
to this you feel are needed.
Specialist option(s)
Make a model that shows your specialist area(s) using learning technologies.
Create three mini models to capture your achievements in this/these specialist
area(s).
Make three models that show examples of practice in your specialist area.
What else would you like to try? Make a mini model to illustrate this.
Make a model that shows what motivated you to engage with this area.
Make an additional model that shows your learning journey in this area.
Future plans
Make a model that captures what you plan to do in the next academic year.
Reflect on your plan and create a mini model that shows how you could implement
your plan.
Make a model that shows what your plans for the future are.
Use a red brick to indicate your biggest challenge.
Reflect on your plans and create a mini model that shows what difference it would
make to make your plans reality.
Make a model that shows what you would like to have achieved in three years.
Activities supporting ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award application
This is a special award for anybody using learning technologies innovatively in their
learning and teaching and/or supporting students introduced by the Association for
Learning Technology in 2007. The ALT Learning Technologist of the Year is
awarded to individuals and teams who have evidenced an outstanding contribution
to the field of learning technology nationally.
Award applicants, individuals and teams, are asked to provide evidence summarised
in the following four areas as presented on the above ALT webpage:
1. A clear description of the actions taken to develop and support the achievement
2. Clear, credible, statement of individual or team approach to the technological, and/or
methodological, and/or managerial, and/or teaching and learning choices made by
the applicant (individual or team), during the period covered by the application
3. Major and beneficial impact on practices within the applicant's or team's
organisation, community, or sphere of influence
4. Outstanding overall contribution in managing, researching, supporting or enabling
learning, teaching or assessment with the use of learning technology.
60
The activities that follow have been aligned to the above criteria. For more
information about the award, see https://www.alt.ac.uk/about-alt/awards
Actions undertaken to develop and support the individual/team achievement
Activity
Build a model to show what you did to support the individual/team achievement.
What has been your biggest success?
Individual/team approach to the technological, and/or methodological, and/or
managerial, and/or teaching and learning choices made
Build a model that shows your individual/team approach to the technological,
and/or methodological, and/or managerial, and/or teaching and learning
choices you made.
Re-build your model keeping only the most successful elements of your approach.
Major individual/team impact and influence
Build a series of mini models that show your personal/team sphere of impact and
influence.
Add a green brick to the mini model that shows your greatest impact.
Write the supporting evidence for this on the post-it note.
Major individual/team contribution in managing, researching, supporting or
enabling learning, teaching or assessment using learning technologies
Build a model that shows your biggest contribution as an individual/team in the area
of researching, supporting or enabling learning, teaching or assessment using
learning technologies.
Make a mini model that shows how you feel about this
Activities supporting applications for the annual Award of Research into
Learning Technology
This award will be awarded by ALT for the first time in 2018 to celebrate outstanding
research achievement and in particular early career researchers in the area of
Learning Technology.
Please note, activities for this section will be added at a later stage when the criteria
will be known.
61
3.6 Prompts for coaching and mentoring
This section contains suggestions for activities that can be used in individual and/or
team coaching and mentoring situations. They can also be used to support the
professional development, initial and continuous, of coaches and mentors. While the
prompts may be wide-ranging we are concentrating here on their use in terms of
academic contexts, including those of the professional educator.
A quick overview of the roles of, and differences between, coaches and mentors
We are assuming that if you are reading this section you are already quite clear,
through your own experience of how the coaching/mentoring relationship plays out.
If, however, you are new to the subject and would like this defined, the following
summary is for you. We also recommend that if you are thinking of undertaking a
coach/mentor role you also engage with suitable training and support, including
external literature and your own professional practice.
Coaching is a supportive, dialogic relationship between coach and coachee with the
specific aim of moving the coachee forward with a goal of their own defining. It differs
from mentoring in a number of distinct ways: a coach does not advise the coachee
what to do, set out specific options, or give examples from their own experience and
knowledge base to influence the coachee to make a decision. A coach does not
judge, nor would they start sentences with leading phrases such as 'if I were
you...what I think you should do is...when I was in a similar position I did x...' A coach
will have been chosen to be an impartial and neutral thinking partner, who helps the
coachee elicit their own options and make their own choices.
A professional or academic mentor is more likely to have been chosen on the basis
of their experience, specialist knowledge or career trajectory. They can give the
mentor specific information or examples to help them decide what to do in certain
situations. In short, a mentor is more directive than a coach. There are also
connotations of age and experience within the mentoring role: a mentor might be
more senior, or more experienced.
The activities are arranged in the following two sub-sections:
Section A: LEGO-based activities for coaching and mentoring situations (including at
the start of any coaching or mentoring arrangement)
Section B: LEGO-based activities for the professional development of coaches and
mentors
As in the previous sections, our recommendations for what to think about before you
start are relevant here as well.
Section A: Coaching and mentoring situations
The coaching contract
62
(or coach and coachee who both participate, build and share. This can also be used
in team settings)
Build a model that shows your expectations from a coaching relationship.
Build a shared model that shows your expectations collectively.
Tell the story of your shared model.
What to work on
Build a model of your current situation, including your own headspace, aims,
frustrations, confusions, as well as your role and context
Using a coaching framework, such as TGROW, create a model or models that help
you discuss each of the stages e.g.
T Topic what do you want to discuss
G - Goal - what is it you want to achieve? What are you aiming for?
R Reality what is your present situation?
O Options - what are the different courses of action open to you?
W Wrap-up/Will what are you actually going to do now? How strong is you
determination to do this? What might get in your way., help you?
Becoming Unstuck
Feeling stuck in a situation or way of being/feeling is often what prompts people to
find themselves a coach. Often the activity above will have relevance for how to get
past the sense of blockage. Or you could try building with the following prompts:
Where at the moment do you feel most stuck?
What impact is this having on you?
What/who around you can help with this?
What do you/will you prioritise?
This activity is a good one for pairs, or if undertaken in a group situation maybe one
where the partner or members can help build solutions and suggestions for the
coachee.
My ideal coach
Build a model that shows the key characterises of your ideal coach.
Add a green brick to indicate the most important characteristic.
My ideal coachee
Build a model that shows the key characterises of your ideal coachee.
Add a green brick to indicate the most important characteristic.
Real and ideal self
(Self-coaching to enhance performance)
Create a mini model that shows who you are today.
Create a second mini model that shows who you want to become.
Create a model that shows your current performance.
Add a red brick to indicate your main challenge and a green brick to show what really
works.
Share your model through a note you write to yourself.
63
After a week, revisit your model and your note. What can you do to optimise your
performance? Create a model that shows your options.
Brainstorming to generate ideas
Create as many mini models as possible to generate ideas linked to a specific
topic/situation.
As a group, create a shared model using the ideas generated through your individual
mini models.
Analysing and solving complex issues
Build a model that shows a complex issue you are facing.
Identify the three most challenging aspects of it and add three red bricks to your
model that depict these.
Managing set-backs
Build a model that shows the setbacks you have experienced in a particular
situation.
Build three mini models that show how you could manage these.
What will you commit to do? Create a model that shows this.
Overcoming conflict
Build a model that shows specific strategies you use to overcome conflict.
Identify one of your strategies that hasn't worked. Add a red brick to the area on your
model which shows this.
What else could you try? Build three mini models.
Developing as a leader
Build a model that shows who you want to become as a leader,
What do you need to do to get there? Build a new model that shows your
development needs.
Progressing a project
Build a model that shows where you are with a specific project"
What do you need to do to progress this project? Create three mini models that
depict the strategies you could use.
Empowering others
Build as many mini models as possible that depict the approaches you use to
empower others.
Select the three that seem to work better. Share these.
What else could you try? Create further mini models.
Share these mini models and select the one you are going to try.
Developing personal/professional skills
Create a model that shows the skills of need to complete a specific task in your job.
What are the areas you need to develop further? Add a red brick to highlight this.
Create a model for somebody else in the group suggesting what they could do to
develop in this area.
Motivating individuals
64
Build a model that shows the strategies you use to motivate others.
Add a red brick to the strategy that doesn't work well and a green brick to the
strategy that works well.
What else could you try? Build a mini model and share this.
Defining goals
Build a model that shows what you want to achieve in the next 6 months/3/5 years.
Build a model that shows how you could get there.
Using GROW to achieve goals
Build a mini model that shows what you want to achieve.
Build another mini model that shows where you are now.
Build a mini model that shows what you could do?
What do you commit to do?
Career progression
Build a model that depicts were in are in your career.
Build another model that shows were out want to go next.
Discuss what you need to do to get there.
My perfect role
Make a model that shows your perfect role.
Build a model that shows how you will secure this.
My perfect line manager
Make a model that shows your perfect line manager.
Build a model that shows how you will support your line manager to operate as its
best.
My perfect team
Make a model that shows your perfect team.
Build a model that shows how you will support your team to operate as its best.
My future life
Build a model that shows were you would like to be in 3/5 years?
Create a mini model that shows how you would feel achieving this.
What could you do to get there? Capture your ideas in mini models.
65
Section B: Professional development for coaches and mentors
Some of the activities in the previous section may also be useful as professional
development; they may be used in supervision, or support groups and internal
workshops or through CPD networks. Whichever ones you adopt it is important to be
mindful of the professional expectations of coaches.
The Global Code of Ethics for Coaches and Mentors is available at
http://www.emccouncil.org/webimages/EMCC/Global_Code_of_Ethics.pdf
Table 3.6 Ethics for Coaches and Mentors (adapted from EMCC Council, online)
Working with clients
Professional conduct
Excellent practice
Context
Contracting
Integrity
Confidentiality
Inappropriate interactions
Conflict of interest
Terminating professional
relationships & on-going
responsibilities
Maintaining the reputation
of coaching and
mentoring
Recognising equality and
diversity
Breaches of professional
conduct
Legal and statutory
obligations and duties
Ability to perform
On-going supervision
Continuing professional
development and
reflection
Working with clients
As we have said in several other places already, these prompts are starter
questions/suggestions/builds. We obviously expect that you will explore and probe
the subject appropriately with additional/follow up questions, as you would in any
normal coaching situations. Previous sections and prompts have given illustrations of
what these follow ups might look like (what did that feel like? How did you know X?
What other ways can you think of to address this problem/interpret this issue? Etc)
Context
Build a model that shows the context you are working in.
Build a model that depicts the diversity among your clients. What does this mean to
you?
Contracting
Build a model that shows the strategies you use for contracting.
Add a red brick to highlight a specific challenge in this process.
Build three mini models of your options to overcome this challenge.
Share the one you commit to take forward.
Integrity
Build a model that shows what integrity means to you.
What else would you add? Modify your model.
Share the change you made to your model with at least one person.
Confidentiality
Build a model that shows the importance of confidentiality.
What could you do to refine your approach. Build three mini models to show this.
66
Inappropriate interactions
Build a model that shows inappropriate interactions in a coaching context.
Build three mini models that shows what strategies can be deployed to avoid
inappropriate interactions?
With a partner, build a model of an anonymous and unrecognisable coaching
dilemma you have faced. How did you handle it? What other strategies or
observations might you suggest to each other through additional models?
Conflict of interest
Build a model that shows a situation where there was a conflict of interest.
Build a mini model that shows what it did.
Terminating professional relationships & on-going responsibilities
Build a model that shows a situation where you terminated a professional
relationship/one with on-going responsibilities.
Build a mini model of an effective strategy to do this.
Build a shared model that incorporates all ideas.
Professional conduct
Build a model that depicts what it means to be a professional.
Reflect on your model and check if you would like to make any changes or additions
to your model.
Share the changes you made with at least one person"
Maintaining the reputation of coaching and mentoring
Build a model that shows how you contribute to maintain a professional standards in
coaching/mentoring.
Add a green brick to highlight your most important responsibility.
Recognising equality and diversity
Build a model that shows what diversity looks like for you.
Build a second model that shows what equality means to you.
Create shared models of your individual diversity and equality models.
Breaches of professional conduct
Build a mini model that she was what you understand by breaching professional
conduct.
Build a shared model that synthesises all your responses.
Legal and statutory obligations and duties
(group setting)
Build a model that shows your legal and statutory obligations and duties as a coach.
Build a landscape that shows your collective understanding and the relationships
among different aspects each individual contributed.
Excellent practice
Build a model to celebrate key successes in your coaching practice.
Build a model that shows how success looks like for you.
Ability to perform
67
Build two mini models that show your ability to perform.one should depict a key
enabler and the other a blocker.
What can you do about the blocker? Build three mini models to explore options.
Ongoing supervision
Build a model that shows how you supervise.
Identify one aspect that could be enhanced further.
Continuing professional development and reflection
Build a model that shows your professional development activities in the last year.
Add a green brick to identify which helped you the most
What else could you try?
68
3.7 Prompts for research
In this section, you will find a wide range of activities all relating to research as an
academic activity and process, the professional development of researchers (Vitae®)
but also a series of activities that will helP doctoral students prepare for their viva in
a more hands-on and creative way. The sub-sections are:
Section A: Activities supporting researcher professional development (Vitae®)
Section B: Activities supporting research activities
Section C: Activities supporting viva preparation
Section A: Activities supporting researcher professional development (Vitae®)
The Researcher Development Framework developed by Vitae® is a valuable tool for
postgraduate researchers’ development, their supervisors as well as other
researchers and their ongoing professional development. The framework has four
domains. The suggested LEGO-based activities presented below are aligned to
these and their sub-domains (see Table 3.7).
The Researcher Development Framework developed by Vitae® can be accessed at
https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/about-the-vitae-
researcher-development-framework/developing-the-vitae-researcher-development-
framework
Table 3.7 Overview of the Vitae® Researcher Development Framework (online)
Domain A:
Knowledge and
intellectual abilities
Domain B:
Personal
effectiveness
Domain C:
Research
governance and
organisation
Domain D:
Engagement,
influence and
impact
A1 Knowledge
base
A2 Cognitive
abilities
A3 Creativity
B1 Personal
qualities
B2 Self-
management
B3 Professional
and career
development
C1 Professional
conduct
C2 Research
management
C3 Finance,
funding and
resources
D1 Working with
others
D2 Communication
and dissemination
D3 Engagement
and impact
Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities
A1 Knowledge base
Build a model that shows your current understanding of the area you intend to study.
Build another model that shows specific areas for development to help you with the
process you will decide to follow.
Add a red brick to your top priority area and share.
A2 Cognitive abilities
Build a model that shows your current critical and creative thinking capacity in the
context of your research.
What else would help to increase your capacity and capability in this area? Create
three mini models that capture your ideas.
A3 Creativity
69
Build a model that shows your creative thinking capacity in the context of your
research.
What else would help to increase your capacity and capability in this area? Create
three mini models that capture your ideas.
Domain B: Personal effectiveness
B1 Personal qualities
Build a model that shows what kind of researcher you are. What qualities do you
bring to research?
What qualities or capacities do you need to develop? Identify three priorities and
capture these in three mini models.
B2 Self-management
Build a model that shows your current skills to manage your research.
Add a red brick to the area that is your biggest challenge.
Create a mini model for somebody else in the group to suggest how their challenge
can be overcome.
B3 Professional and career development
Build a model that captures your current skills as a researcher.
Build a model that captures the skills, attitudes and behaviours you need to develop
as a researcher.
Bring together all your needs into a single ‘landscape’ and show the
connections/resonances and differences between your models
Domain C: Research governance and organisation
C1 Professional conduct
Build a model that shows how you deal with your research in a professional manner.
Create a shared models that brings your practices as a group together.
C2 Research management
Build a model that shows your current skills, attitudes and behavious that you use to
manage your research project.
Add a green brick to what works and a red brick to what you find especially
challenging.
What could you do to address this challenge? Build three mini models.
C3 Finance, funding and resources
Build a model that shows how you go about financing/funding/resourcing your
research.
What is your biggest strength in this area? Add a green brick to your model.
What is your biggest challenge? Add a red brick to your model.
Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact
D1 Working with others
Build a model that shows the skills, attitudes and behaviours you use when
collaborating with/mentor/supervise/lead others.
Add a red brick to the area you need to develop further.
D2 Communication and dissemination
70
Build a model that shows the strategies you use to communicate your research.
What else could you try? Create as a many mini models as possible.
Share up to three mini models with at least one other person.
D3 Engagement and impact
Build a model that shows what strategies you use to engage as a researcher more
widely so that your research has an impact.
Create a shared model bringing practices from the whole group together.
Section B: Activities supporting research activities
Researchers who would like to explore specific aspects of research linked to a
specific project, plan or current activity, on their own or with others, or are interested
in helping colleagues develop capacity in a specific area, might find the following
activities useful for a workshop, one-to-one settings or for self-analysis and
reflection.
Planning research
Build a model that shows what steps you need to consider when planning your
study.
What will be your biggest challenge? Mark it using a red brick.
Research proposal
Build a model that shows what you need to consider when planning to put a research
proposal together.
With what do you need help? Mark it on your model using a red brick.
Research questions
Build between one and three mini models that show what you want to find out from
this study.
Which one is the most important mini model for you? Build another mini model to
illustrate what this means to you.
Support
Build a model that shows what support you need to make progress and complete
your research project.
What help can you realistically get? Use a green brick and add to the specific areas
on your model.
Re-build your models with the support you can get.
Funding
Build a model that shows where you can seek funding for your project.
What else could you try? Create a few further mini models.
Share the mini models and commit to what you are going to do regarding funding for
your project.
Methodology
Build a few mini models that show the methodologies you consider using in your
study.
Which one is your strongest contender? Add the advantages of one of the
methodologies you selected to the relevant mini model.
71
Literature review
Build a model that shows the literature you intend to review for your study.
What could you do differently? Create three mini models that show your ideas.
Share the mini models and commit to one change as illustrated through one of your
mini models.
Data collection
Build a model that shows the process you followed to collect data for your study.
What would be the ideal way of collecting data if you could
Findings
Build a model that shows your key findings and how they related to each other.
Discoveries made through the project
Build up to three mini models that show specific discoveries you made during this
project.
Select one of the mini models and create a further model that shows where this
discovery could take you.
Research design
Build a model that shows the key features of your research design.
How would your ideal research design look like? What modifications would you do to
your original model? Make them.
Dissemination
Build a model for your project dissemination strategy.
Add a red brick to identify your biggest challenge.
Reflection on completed research project
Build a model that shows your journey from the beginning until the end.
Highlight three things you are proud of.
Use a red brick to identify on your model one thing you would do differently in
another project.
Share the red brick area and explain.
Section C: Activities supporting viva preparation
A viva can be a stressful experience while preparing for it and during it. There are
many useful guides and resources available online that help doctoral students
prepare for their big day. However, more creative approaches could also be
considered, such as LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Below you will find a series of
activities that are based on commonly asked questions during a viva. These can be
further personalised and contextualised by the doctoral researcher and their
supervisory team and used perhaps in advance of a mock viva. Some of the
activities could lead doctoral students to consider bringing a small LEGO kit into the
viva and using this to respond to one of the questions raised by the examiners using
a model that they have prepared earlier. Doctoral students could also make a model
on the spot when asked a specific question that is complex and needs to be
explained with clarity. Making such a model, could provide a valuable reflective tool
72
and help the doctoral students to stay focused and articulate with precision the key
points.
Motivation for the study
Build a model that shows your main motivation to conduct this study.
Literature review strategies
Build a model that shows what strategies you used to conduct the literature review.
Build a mini model that shows what you would do differently and why looking back at
the completed study now.
Literature review
Build a model that shows the key areas of the literature you explored and how these
link to your study.
Build as many mini models as needed to show the gaps you found in the literature.
Theoretical framework
Build a model that shows key features of your theoretical framework.
Your research design
Build a model that shows all the elements of your research design holistically.
Your methodology
Build a model that shows key characteristics of your methodology.
Add a red brick to the biggest challenge you faced linked to this.
Add a green brick to highlight the benefit for using this methodology for your study.
What other methodology could you have chosen? Create at least one mini models
that depicts this.
Data analysis
Build a model that shows the process you followed to analyse your data.
Add a red brick to the area of the model that shows your biggest challenge. How did
you overcome this?
Findings
Build a model that shows the key findings of your study.
Show on your model how the findings are linked to each other through using
connectors.
Contribution to knowledge
Build a model that showcases the unique contribution you are making through your
study.
What are you most proud of? Add a green brick to the specific area.
Implications
Build a model that shows the implications of your findings.
What do you consider the biggest opportunity? Make a mini model to depict this.
What do you consider the biggest challenge? Make a mini model to depict this.
Research journey
73
Build a model that shows key milestones of your research journey and what you
have learnt.
Emerging work
Build a model that shows key developments in your area since submitting your
thesis.
What do you regard as the most significant? Add a red brick to the area of your
model that depicts this.
Share the red brick area and explain what this means for your work.
Dissemination
Create a model that is a dissemination map of your work. What could you do?
Add a green brick to the area on your model that shows what you will do first.
This booklet concludes with Part 4 which illustrates some examples of how activities
using LEGO or inspired by LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® can be adapted to suit
different needs.
3.8. Design tips
Here you will find a few aspects to consider when designing your own activities, and
they are ones which we have already mentioned earlier:
When planning your activities remember
the purpose, context, timing, nature of participants, numbers and size of group, how
you might share, the space you are working in, wider module or learning framework
and many more.
Working in pairs and groups
You might want to use some of the activities with smaller or larger groups. Think
about time and what is realistically possible and desirable in each situation.
Depending on the purpose of the activities and what you are hoping to achieve,
consider sharing of the models to happen within smaller groups or even in pairs.
Some of the activities might also provide useful for self-reflection and could therefore
be used on one’s own or in pairs. Identify each time what would be the most
appropriate approach and remember that a form of sharing of the reflection is
extremely important and valuable. In the case of using suggested LEGO activities on
your own, as self-reflection or evaluation, it might be possible to combine this with
externalising the reflection through a blog post, a video clip or an audio file that can
be shared and invite others to comment and therefore turn the monologue into a
dialogue, a conversation.
What about kits?
As already stated, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® activities often depend on all
participants to have access to certain kits or types of bricks for particular
74
applications. We have found through our own practice, and no doubt because of the
financial constraints experienced in higher education, that this is a luxury that we
cannot always afford. As a result many educators using LEGO have put together
their own collection of bricks and re-use them regularly. These also work well as their
use is predicated on the fact that that it is not about the bricks, but about the
conversations they enable. David Gauntlett is also one who has been exploring the
potential for working with a much smaller number of bricks; this can be seen as an
opportunity to be more resourceful and see what kinds of ideas can be expressed
according to the motto "less is more", rather than seeing a limited number of bricks
as a barrier to richer expression.
75
PART 4: Variations on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, by Chrissi
Within this section, I (Chrissi) will share my thinking around the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® method and further ways to use LEGO more broadly. This exploration is
leading to possible alternative opportunities based on some of the characteristics of
the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method as well as with other creative methods such
as making artefacts and representing abstract ideas visually using a range of
materials.
The intention is to create further playful learning opportunities through making
models with and without LEGO bricks. As the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method
has been made available as open source since 2010, it is natural that individuals will
critically reflect on the existing method and adapt this further to suit their needs while
also exploring new possibilities and being creative with the method itself. After all, as
Professor Johan R. Ross said in his prologue, “LSP is about freedom”. My
explorations are based on experimental applications from my own practice partially
linked to LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® but also further playful and model-making
approaches Alison and I have used in higher education. I am sharing my thoughts on
these to initiate a dialogue, debate and inquiry to move our thinking into new
directions and explore alternative possibilities in the area of playful learning through
making.
I would like to introduce my thoughts around facilitation, participants and the
materials used in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
4.1 Facilitation
According to the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, the facilitator leads and directs
activities without participating in these (Rasmussen, 2006). The questions are
prepared and posed by the facilitator (The LEGO Group, 2010; Frick et al., 2013)
and form part of their workshop preparation and construction. While this is of value
and enables the facilitator to carefully orchestrate the session to maximise
engagement and output, it still models a facilitator-directed and -driven approach to
learning and development. There are opportunities to explore the use of questions
that are generated from the group itself based on an agreed theme and allow a more
responsive workshop with looser structures more owned by the participants
themselves. This change would potentially increase motivation and empower
learners further but does require a skilful facilitator, able to translate their questions
into valuable LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® activities.
The facilitator of a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop is often an outsider who has
been brought in to work with a group of individuals who they don’t know. Therefore,
they might be expected to be objective and neutral. It is also important to
acknowledge that a facilitator is invited to offer a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session
based on trust relationships. This can be an advantage when working with teams
were there are internal challenges and sensitive issues uncovered. However, in
some situations an outsider might not be what would work best. For example, if an
educator would like to get to know their students, finding ways where the educator
and students become one united community is important to develop fruitful
relationships. This would be difficult to achieve if the educator facilitates a workshop
without participating in this themselves. In this case, asking students to open up and
share their personal stories is equally important with the educator doing the same.
76
One possibility would be to bring a facilitator external to this group to facilitate the
workshop and ask the educator to participate. This is not always possible or
appropriate due to resources, cost and the pedagogical rationale where perhaps an
outside may be seen as an intruder and have a negative impact on the group.
My suggestion therefore is for the educator to fully participate in the activities as well
as introduce the role of the rotating facilitator where appropriate and useful. The idea
of a rotating facilitator is borrowed from Problem-Based Learning (PBL), where
students are asked to take on roles when working on a specific PBL activity which
are dynamic and change from one activity to the other helping them each time to
develop different capabilities. The educator might be the first to lead a round of
activities, especially if the group is new to the method, and later passes the baton to
a student. This means that progressively the educator blends into the community,
becomes one with the community and empowers students to take the lead in the
discussions. What I am suggesting enables participation by all and encourages
students to take responsibility of their own experiences and learning as they are
unfolding. What makes this happen effectively are the questioning techniques used
as well as a positive and playful atmosphere and not just the LEGO bricks. So
investing some time with students on developing questioning techniques that foster
openness and inquiry, such as Socratic questioning, many of which are also widely
used in coaching, will be time worth spend with students or staff when embarking on
using playful model-making techniques for example.
4.2 Participation
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® builds on the power of the collective that fosters
participation by all present, except the facilitator it seems, who is normally the
outsider, as mentioned above. The method works well with small groups and there
are also techniques that can facilitate the effective use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
with larger groups. How a group is facilitated and by how many, as a whole, split into
smaller groups, pairs or using a mix of strategies, depends on the objectives of an
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session or activity as well as the time available. Whatever
the size of the group, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® seems usually to be mentioned as
an application that is used in a group context (Kristiansen & Rasmussen, 2014).
There are, however, further opportunities to use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®- type
activities in other situations with individuals, pairs or smaller groups. Such
opportunities are located within learning, teaching and research. For example,
personal tutoring scenarios, supervisory meetings, individual assessment, coaching
and mentoring as well as research interviews and professional discussions. It is
common that these are conducted as individual meetings. In these cases, the tutor,
mentor, coach or researcher would act as the facilitator. The student, colleague or
member of the public then, depending on the purpose of the meeting, is the lone
participant who builds models in response to facilitator prompts which are then
shared and discussed to gain insights.
However, there is also the possibility that such activities are of reciprocal nature,
where the facilitator and the participant are equals and not necessarily in power-
relationships (although this is not excluded). Examples include paired peer-to-peer
situations with both parties fully participating. In some cases, facilitation can happen
in turns. This approach might also be of value when establishing tutor-tutee
77
relationships for example where two-sided opening-up has the potential for
individuals to better understand each other which is vital for a professional
relationship to form.
Furthermore, using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in pairs or small groups may be
desirable or seen as more effective in a large group setting such as a class of
students that consists of 30, 100 or more students, as it would enable interaction and
shared reflection within these large group settings in a playful way that would enable
individuals to open-up and feel more connected to some of their peers and
progressively help them build and strengthen relationships which may influence their
engagement and learning on a course and make their experience more personal in a
large group learning situation.
4.3 Material: With and without LEGO
LEGO is a versatile play resource, toy and tool that aids our imagination to express
in a very visual way through constructing models (Rasmussen, 2006). However, it is
often said that it is not about the bricks, but what the bricks enable. (The same is
often said about technology). This raises some radical questions:
What if, we didn’t have any LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® kits? What if we didn’t have the
money to invest in these? What if, we didn’t want to use LEGO bricks at all? What if
we didn’t have any LEGO bricks? Could the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method still
work or a variation of it without the use of LEGO and where could this take us? Elkind
(2007, 15) says that “The majority of toys are now plastic. These playthings generally
lack the warmth of wood, the texture of natural fabrics such as cotton or wool, or the
solidity of metal.” LEGO is such a toy. I am taking the philosophical skeleton of the
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method and test it out with other materials and adaptations
through which a new method emerges.
There are good arguments for using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® kits or LEGO but
what if we don’t have any for example or we would like to use different materials to
create a more sensory rich building experience beyond a homogenous LEGO
approach? Everybody can build using LEGO bricks. Even if somebody hasn’t used
them before, it will only take a few minutes to work out how to use the bricks even
without instructions, just by playing with them. This is one of the key reasons why
many argue that LEGO works so well (Rasmussen, 2006). Could the same be said
about other materials?
What could other materials add?
We know that LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is not about creating aesthetically pleasing
models. It is not about the models but what they represent for the builder. However,
if we are truly interested in what the models represent and not their looks, what stops
us from using different materials to create these? Since the artistic side of our
creations is not what matters, what makes LEGO so different from play dough or just
paper for example? I have found that a big bonus of LEGO is that it can easily be re-
used and there is no wastage or very limited. Despite the fact that the bricks are
made of plastic, I would argue that they are sustainable learning and teaching
resources as they can be used again and again. Furthermore, I would like to add that
the warm-up activities within LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® evidence that everybody
78
can use LEGO bricks and build something in contrary to drawing for example where
individuals might say or think that they are not artistic and can’t draw. Sometimes,
however, there is self-doubt expressed by a small minority of participants about their
capacity to build a model out of LEGO bricks.
While, I have been using LEGO bricks to organise and facilitate LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® workshops, I have also been challenging this idea and often mix LEGO
bricks with different materials, including play dough, pipe cleaners, balloons as well
as paper and items we find in nature such as sticks, pebbles and leaves and other
resources that can be used to create physical and digital models. It is liberating when
we are resourceful and use our imagination to come up with novel ideas for learning
and teaching more generally and what we use to build models too. I would also
challenge the fact that the facilitator decides what to use. How about the participants
deciding for themselves? We emphasise on choice, but often we are the ones
making choices for others. How can we turn this around? How can we empower
others to make choices that help them express as individuals and learn?
4.4 Virtual LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops
While LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops are traditionally organised in face-to-face
settings, it is also possible to offer them remotely using webinar technologies and a
webcam. In this way participants and facilitator can see each other and the LEGO
models they create using physical bricks and discuss these.
There is also the digital LEGO model maker site Build with Chrome available at
https://www.buildwithchrome.com/. This can be used instead of physical bricks when
the facilitator decides this would be more appropriate or would like to try a different
way to offer a LEGO-based activity and/or physical or virtual workshop. It needs to
be noted that participants may need more time to familiarise themselves with this 3D
LEGO building technology that when asked to use physical LEGO bricks before fully
engaging in such an activity. Therefore enough time for this needs to be planned in,
so that the technology doesn’t become a barrier for engagement in the activity.
4.5 Now what?
Play frees our imagination (Brown, 2010) and enables us to experience learning,
teaching, professional development, research and coaching in immersive and
stimulating ways.
Using and adapting the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method for practice in a range of
HE contexts, creates new opportunities for playful, creative and critical participation
and expression that help us make new discoveries about yourselves, others and the
world around us. The explorative practices shared in this part of the booklet are
driven by curiosity and the desire to explore, experiment and discover stimulating
ways to engage students and staff in learning and development that stretch them
and also build community. Through some of the explorations LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® as a method, may become less recognisable. This could then mean the
experimentation may lead to a new method inspired by LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
I have started conceptualising and developing a new method which I have baptised
Play-Make-Discover (PlayMaD). This has some characteristics of the LEGO®
79
SERIOUS PLAY® method but also other approaches and materials as indicated
earlier. PlayMaD creates new opportunities for flexible and creative participation and
expression using a range of playful and making approaches, resources and
materials that can be used depending on their availability and suitability of a specific
complex or tricky learning situation.
Taking the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® premise and combining it with other creative
inquiry-based approaches, frameworks and models can be generative, as novel
combination often lead us to new surprising and valuable discoveries.
We know that frameworks and models are useful design tools for the enhancement
and transformation of practices. The Playground model (Nerantzi, 2015; Nerantzi
2019) developed to promote creative learning and teaching through play in an
academic development setting (see Figure 1), might be useful to explore when
considering integrating playful learning and particularly LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
The model may provide a scaffold when considering integrating LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® activities at different stages of a workshop or course.
Figure 1. The Playground model positioned in a wider theoretical framework
80
Workshops with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® begin with the building of individual
models which give a representation of the builder’s conception. The use of LEGO
bricks shifts the language of expression of the learner. New language leads to new
thinking and as such the learner is less likely to reproduce learned or expected
responses. Instead their responses are more visceral. The LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® method allows these individual models to be combined or integrated into a
new shared model which represents the shared understanding of the group. It is
through this process that deep conceptions and misconceptions can be brought to
the table and through exposition, conflict and resolution, familiar concepts to
storytellers, new knowledge and understanding is co-constructed within that
community.
The ideas shared in this section evidence that variations on the LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® method can be made and are made in practice in response to a specific
situation and based on an informed rationale. Furthermore, there are opportunities
to extend the philosophy behind the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method to construct
new models and framework, such as PlayMaD, the one presented briefly here.
Further research is needed to test it in practice and evaluate it.
PART 5: Conclusions and further conversations
By now you should have a clear understanding, we hope, of the benefits of using
LEGO-based techniques in many different forms. You will be familiar now, if you
were not before, of the principles of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, where to find more
information on it, and also of the respect and high regard we and contributors to this
booklet have for the method. We, as editors of this booklet and as academic
practitioners, are both committed to creative, playful and alternative approaches to
teaching and learning. We advocate that these are just as relevant and important for
complex tertiary learning as they are in schools.
We are therefore interested in integrating the use of LEGO and principles inspired by
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® into different teaching media, and with other approaches.
Remember to adopt an enquiry-based approach also to evaluate the use of LEGO®
SERIOUS PLA in HE and discover new insights that are valuable to be shared
with the wider academic community.
Here is a bonus task for you: After engaging with the booklet and ideas about the
different LEGO-based approaches, create a mini model that shows what they enable
you to do and share it with us via social media using #LEGOinHE.
If you have suggestions about how this booklet could be improved further and/or
would like to help in the creation of some of the planned additional outputs, please
get in touch with Chrissi (c.nerantzi@mmu.ac.uk).
81
Epilogue by Professor Sally Brown: Playing to learn, learning to play
I spend a lot of my life playing, both for pedagogic purposes and just for fun and am
firmly convinced of the power of the ludic principle. Learning through serious play
can offer a semi-structured environment to aid reflection (especially for the reluctant
or unconvinced of the power of self-review) by enabling symbolic representation of
complex ideas in a neutral context. We engage most productively when we are
‘Learning by Doing as Race’, (2015) argues, since theoretical abstractions become
more real through concrete experimentation, for example, using LEGO® SEROUS
PLAY®, as this booklet demonstrates. This is illustrated though the diverse and
thoughtful range of stories in Part 2 and through the Activity prompts in Part 3 and
throughout the booklet, which is how the authors bring their ideas to life and show
how these can be used in practice.
Approaches vary substantially, from highly structured and expertly-facilitated
formats, to more free-form approaches, requiring participants to be creative in their
usage of random bricks: there is in my view, no single correct way, but many brilliant
and productive ones.
While independent practice is productive and thought-provoking, for me the greatest
value of the approach is in fostering democratic co-construction, whereby sometimes
ill-formulated ideas or conflicting can be collaboratively articulated, shared and
developed, simultaneously building communications and acting as a fertile tool for
forward planning. Working with others using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® encourages
and facilitates the essential capabilities of collaboration and co-production and there
are ample prompts to encourage this in this booklet.
Watching adults play purposefully is much like watching small children do the same:
I like the way that approximations of concepts can become metaphorically translated
into active paradigms which can help to create meaning. I like the way play requires
non-literal and left-field approaches, moving us out of formulaic responses. And I like
the way play makes people laugh, making learning, such a central human process, a
pleasure rather than drudgery. That’s what this publication is all about.
References
Race, P. (2015) The Lecturer’s Toolkit: 4th Edition, London: Routledge.
Sally Brown
Emerita Professor, Leeds Becket University
s.brown@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
82
References
ALT (online). CMALT guidelines, available at
https://www.alt.ac.uk/sites/alt.ac.uk/files/CMALT%20Guidelines_2018_NC_ND.pdf
Brown, S. (2010). Play. How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and
invigorates the soul, London: Avery, Penguin.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity, New York: Harper Collins.
Elkind, D. (2007). The power of play. Learning what comes naturally, Philadelphia,
PA: Da Capo Press.
EMCC Council (online). Global Code of Ethics, available at
http://www.emccouncil.org/webimages/EMCC/Global_Code_of_Ethics.pdf
Kristiansen, P. & Rasmussen, R. (2014). Building a better business using the
LEGO® Serious Play® Method, Hooken: Wiley.
Frick E., Tardini S. & Cantoni L. (2013). White Paper on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
A state of the art of its application in Europe. V. 2.0.1. August 2013. Available at
http://www.s-play.eu/en/news/70-s-play-white-paper-published
Gauntlett, D. (2011). Making is connecting. The social meaning of creativity, from DIY
and knitting to YouTube and Web2.0, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gauntlett, D. (2007). Creative Explorations. New approaches to identities and
audiences, Oxon: Routledge.
Geary, J. (2011). I is an other. The secret life of metaphor and how it shapes the way
we see the world, New York: Harper Perennial.
Higher Education Academy (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework for
teaching and supporting learning in higher education, York: Higher Education
Academy. Available at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf
James, A. (2013). LEGO® Serious Play®: a three-dimensional approach to learning
development, in: Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, No. 6
(2013), available at
http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/index.php?journal=jldhe&page=article&op=view&path%
5B%5D=208&path%5B%5D=154
James, A. (2015). Innovative pedagogies series: Innovating in the Creative Arts with
LEGO. York: Higher Education Academy, available at
https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/alison_james_final.pdf
James, A. (2016). Play and 3D Enquiry for Stimulating Creative Learning in Watts, L.
and Blessinger, P (eds.) in Creative Learning in Higher Education. International
Perspectives and Approaches (2016) Routledge.
83
James, A. & Brookfield, S (2014). Engaging Imagination; helping students become
creative and reflective thinkers. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass.
James, A. & Nerantzi, C. (eds.) (2019) The Power of Play in Higher Education.
Creativity in Tertriary Learning. London: Palgrave.
Moon, J. (2010). Using story in higher education and professional development,
Oxon: Routledge.
Nelson, L. (1949). Socratic method and critical philosophy. Selected essays. New
York: Dover Press.
Nerantzi, C. (2015). The Playground model for creative professional development,
In: Nerantzi, C. & James, A. (eds.) (2015) Exploring Play in Higher Education,
Creative Academic Magazine, Issue 2A, June 2015, pp. 40-50, available
at http://www.creativeacademic.uk/
Nerantzi, C. (2019). The playground model revisited, a proposition to boost creativity
in academic development, in: James, A. & Nerantzi, C. (eds.) (2018) The Power of
Play. London: Palgrave.
Nerantzi, C. & Despard, C. (2014). Lego models to aid reflection. Enhancing the
summative assessment experience in the context of Professional Discussions within
accredited Academic Development provision, in: Journal of Perspectives in Applied
Academic Practice, Edinburgh Napier University, Vol 2, Number 2, July 2014, pp. 31-
36, available at http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/81
Nerantzi, C. & James, A. (eds.) (2015a). Exploring Play in Higher Education,
Creative Academic Magazine, Issue 2b, June 2015, available
at http://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html
Nerantzi, C. & James, A. (eds.) (2015b). Exploring Play in Higher Education,
Creative Academic Magazine, Issue 2a, June 2015, available
at http://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html
Nerantzi, C. & James, A. (eds.) (2018). Discovering innovative applications of
LEGO® in learning and teaching in higher education, Special Issue, International
Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, available
at http://ijmar.org/v5n4/toc.html
Nerantzi, C., Moravej, H. & Johnson, F. (2015). Play brings openness or using a
creative approach to evaluate an undergraduate unit and move forward together,
JPAAP, Vol 3, No. 2, pp. 82-91, available
at http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/141
Nerantzi, C. & McCusker, S. (2014). A taster of the LEGO(R) Serious Play(R)
Method for Higher Education, OER14 Building Communities of Open
Practice, Conference Proceedings, 28-29 April 2014, Centre for Life, Newcastle,
available at http://www.medev.ac.uk/oer14/19/view/
84
Nolan, S. (2010). Physical Metaphorical Modelling with LEGO as a Technology for
Collaborative Personalised Learning. In. J. O’Donoghue (ed.) Technology-supported
Environments for Personalised Learning: Methods and Case Studies. New York:
Hersey, Information Science Reference, pp. 364-385.
Papert, S., & Harel, I. (1991). Situating Constructionism, in: Constructionism,
Norwood: Ablex Publishing, Available from:
http://www.papert.org/articles/SituatingConstructionism.html
Rasmussen, R. (2006). When you build in the world, you build in your mind. Design
Management Review, 17(3), pp. 53-63.
Schön, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Roos, J. & Victor, B. (2018). How It All Began: The Origins Of LEGO® Serious
Play®, International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp.
326-343. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-025
Savin-Baden, M. (2008). Learning spaces. Creating opportunities for knowledge
creation in academic life. The Society for Research into Higher Education,
Maidenhead: Open University Press.
SEDA (online). SEDA Professional Development Framework, available at
https://www.seda.ac.uk/what-is-seda-pdf
The LEGO Group (2010). Open-source/<Introduction to LEGO(R) Serious Play(R),
available at http://seriousplaypro.com/about/open-source/
Vitae (online). Researcher Development Framework, available at
https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/about-the-vitae-
researcher-development-framework/developing-the-vitae-researcher-development-
framework
Whitton, N. (2018). Playful learning: tools, techniques, and tactics. In: Research in
Learning Technology 2018, 26: 2035, available
at http://dx.doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v26.2035
... Initialement développée pour le monde des affaires, la méthode LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® a également infusé la communauté académique et le monde de l'enseignement supérieur 5 (Kurkovsky, 2015 ;Lépinard, 2018 ;Nerantzi et James, 2019). Comme en entreprise, elle peut être mobilisée dans l'enseignement supérieur pour l'identification et la résolution de problèmes, la création de connaissances et une compréhension partagée des situations par les apprenants (Dann, 2018). ...
... Quatre dimensions sont au coeur du leadership authentique : une plus grande conscience de soi, un traitement équilibré de l'information, un comportement authentique, et une transparence relationnelle . Berkovitch (2014) de Gardner et al., 2005 ;Berkovitch, 2014) Ainsi, les étudiants travaillent le rapport à soi en renforçant leurs capacités introspectives (Hayes et Graham, 2019), mais également le rapport aux autres en développant l'écoute (Dann, 2018 ;Chabault et al.,2020) et l'empathie (Nerantzi et James, 2019). En outre, pour favoriser les environnements inclusifs, il faut un esprit ouvert à la pluralité des points de vue (Pless et Maak, 2004). ...
Conference Paper
L’objectif général de cette contribution vise une meilleure compréhension des apports de la méthode LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® à l’Université, et en particulier, pour des étudiants en sciences de gestion. Même si le jeu permet d’appréhender les caractéristiques de notre environnement et de mieux comprendre les individus qui nous entourent, son utilisation est encore marginale dans l’enseignement supérieur. Parmi les outils de la ludopédagogie, la méthode LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, initialement conçue pour les problématiques business des entreprises, commence néanmoins à être mobilisée (et documentée) par certains enseignants en France et à l’étranger. A l’issue d’une série d’ateliers menés par l’un des auteurs durant l’année universitaire 2019-2020, nous avons souhaité explorer le ressenti de nos étudiants (master 1 et 2). Pour accéder à leur « réalité », nous avons mené notre recherche de manière inductive afin de comprendre comment ils ont vécu cette expérience inédite dans leur cursus universitaire, et ce qu’ils en retirent une fois qu’ils ont quitté la salle de cours. Nos résultats montrent qu’un cheminement s’opère chez les étudiants qui passent par différents états d'esprit au cours d’un atelier LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Au départ, la surprise et les a priori à l’égard de l’usage d’un jouet à l’Université font naître des sentiments ambivalents. Si cette ambivalence s’estompe rapidement grâce au climat bienveillant et coopératif des ateliers (parole libérée, spontanéité, égalité entre les participants et absence de compétition), elle offre aussi, par les questionnements et les ouvertures d’horizons qu’elle suscite, la possibilité d’expérimenter l’authenticité à l’Université. Les participants s’investissent rapidement dans l’expérience et appréhendent moins de parler d’eux ou de faire part de leurs différences de point de vue. Ainsi, nous montrons que l’ambivalence a deux vertus : contrairement aux apparences, elle contribue à capter l’attention et stimule l’engagement tout en permettant un accès plus direct à l’authenticité. Les étudiants ont également estimé que ce temps fort de leur année universitaire a été l’occasion de développer leur conscience de soi, mais aussi des autres, et d’enrichir certaines soft skills indispensables au travail en équipe. Au-delà, et même si ce n’était pas la finalité des ateliers, nous avons constaté que la méthode est particulièrement intéressante pour les accompagner vers une posture de leadership authentique.
... In the process of the study the particular attention was paid to the application of the Lego® Serious Play® methodology (LSP) -a powerful facilitation tool used by organizations for involving employees in the generation of innovative ideas in an interesting and playful way [23]. It has also entered the field of higher education in recent years, showing fruitful results [24][25][26]. The classical Lego serious play workshop starts with posing a question which refers to the problem that needs a solution, after which each participant constructs his own understanding of the solution using Lego bricks. ...
... LSP has mainly been used in corporate settings, with limited, but increasing, applications in Higher Education. For a summary of the value of LSP for higher education practice, see [14]. Prior work has used LSP to better understand student needs, interests and aptitudes for designing personalised learning [15] or to help students tap into their creative energies and spur innovation [16]. ...
Article
Many persons have trouble expressing themselves in words when in a group, either because they lack sufficient verbal skills, or because they are anxious, or only subconsciously aware of important issues or because they need time to think. LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ®1 is a method which enables persons to express themselves using LEGO models and work cooperatively with common models. The elements of the game are essential to this, as well as the goal of helping participants achieve a state of flow. LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ® methods can be useful in TCI groups and are in line with the values and attitude of TCI.
Article
Full-text available
Playful practices can be viewed with suspicion within Higher Education,as not “proper” practice. This paper reports on research that show how practitionersengage in playful research practices, and why they use play for scholarship andresearch. It shows some of the challenges that could be embraced to enable theincreased legitimisation of play and playfulness as serious research.
Article
Full-text available
This innovative practice uses classical string instruments as the tools, and music as the medium for exploring learning new and complex tasks. In a face-to-face setting people experience playing violins, violas, and cellos as their learning is guided by visual and aural imagery, enabling engagement with complex cognitive and affective concepts through what appears to be play. By accessing concept knowledge directly through representation and then experience, the need for translation of technical or theoretical material is bypassed. The progressive introduction of mental and physical skills actively illustrates the cumulative impact of the cognitive, the coordination, and the interactive demands of playing the instruments. Active reflection in and on the experience of playing a musical instrument, working collaboratively, and allowing and enjoying public learning (and failure) is contextualised in terms of people’s self-efficacy beliefs, their attitudes toward learning and skill development, and the relevant transferability of these realised and learned ideas to their personal work and life situations.
Article
Full-text available
Over the last years, we have noticed conflicting stories about the origins of the theory, development, and applications of LSP. To set the record straight, this article reviews the story of how LSP arose from the intersection of tedious strategy practices, engaging play, passionate scholars, open-minded executives, and the owner of LEGO Company.
Article
Full-text available
Over the past decade, there has been an increased use of playful approaches to teaching and learning in higher education. Proponents argue that creating ‘safe’ playful spaces supports learning from failure, management of risk-taking, creativity and innovation, as well as increasing the enjoyment of learning for many students. However, the emergent field of playful learning in adulthood is under-explored, and there is a lack of appreciation of the nuanced and exclusive nature of adult play. This article will first examine the theoretical background to the field, providing an initial definition of ‘playful learning’ through the metaphor of the ‘magic circle’ and presenting a hypothesis of why play is important for learning throughout the life course. Second, it will frame the field by highlighting different aspects of playful learning: playful tools, techniques, and tactics. The third section of the article provides two case studies that exemplify different aspects of play: the EduScapes escape room design project, which uses playful failure-based learning, and the Playful Learning Conference, which employs playful principles to rethink the conference format. The article concludes by highlighting three central issues for this emerging field: lack of a research trajectory; the language of play; and unacknowledged privilege inherent in the use of playful learning.
Article
Full-text available
Nerantzi, C., Moravej, H. & Johnson, F. (2015) Play brings openness or using a creative approach to evaluate an undergraduate unit and move forward together, JPAAP, Vol 3, No. 2, pp. 82-91, available at http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/141
Article
Full-text available
"This is a timely and important book which seeks to reclaim universities as places of learning. It is jargon free and forcefully argued. It should be on every principal and vice-chancellor's list of essential reading." Jon Nixon, Professor of Educational Studies, University of Sheffield The ability to have or to find space in academic life seems to be increasingly difficult since we seem to be consumed by teaching and bidding, overwhelmed by emails and underwhelmed by long arduous meetings. This book explores the concept of learning spaces, the idea that there are diverse forms of spaces within the life and life world of the academic where opportunities to reflect and critique their own unique learning position occur. Learning Spaces sets out to challenge the notion that academic thinking can take place in cramped, busy working spaces, and argues instead for a need to recognise and promote new opportunities for learning spaces to emerge in academic life. The book examines the ideas that: Learning spaces are increasingly absent in academic life The creation and re-creation of learning spaces is vital for the survival of the academic community The absence of learning spaces is resulting in increasing dissolution and fragmentation of academic identities Learning spaces need to be valued and possibly redefined in order to regain and maintain the intellectual health of academe In offering possibilities for creative learning spaces, this innovative book provides key reading for those interested in the future of universities including educational developers, researchers, managers and policy makers. (http://www.mcgraw-hill.co.uk/html/0335222307.html)
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we describe the use of LEGO® models within assessment of the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) offered at the University of Salford. Within the context of the PGCAP, we model innovative and contextualised assessment strategies for and of learning. We challenge our students, who are teachers in higher education (HE), to think and rethink the assessment they are using with their own students. We help them develop a deeper understanding and experience of good assessment and feedback practice in a wider context while they are assessed as students on the PGCAP. We report on an evaluation of how the LEGO® model activity was used with a cohort of students in the context of the professional discussion assessment. We share the impact it had on reflection and the assessment experience and make recommendations for good practice.
Technical Report
Full-text available
The aim of this White Paper is to present an overview of the state-of-the-art of the use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) methodology among European SMEs, focusing in particular on its applications in training activities. The White Paper is divided into three sections: 1) In the first section, LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is introduced and described, mainly through the words of its main players and of the official LSP documents. The methodology is first presented with regard to its history, main applications, basic principles and theoretical foundations. 2) In the second section, the findings of a survey of LSP facilitators in Europe are presented. The goal of the survey was to understand who is using LSP in Europe, how and what they are using LSP for, which methods and applications facilitators are using. 3) In the last section, a literature review on LSP is proposed. The main scientific literature about LSP is analyzed, focusing especially on the uses of LSP for training purposes.
Article
This paper discusses work underway to explore the use of Lego Serious Play (LSP) as an unconventional means of developing student learning. Designed originally as a thinking tool within the corporate sector, the techniques and applications of LSP are not those conventionally used in developing academic capacities within students. However, experiences with LSP at the London College of Fashion and that of users in other settings offer evidence of its value in aligning with other approaches to learning to provide a non-hierarchical and student-centred lens through which to consider personal growth and subject understanding. This paper suggests that LSP has an important role to play in supporting multisensory approaches to reflecting on learning, either in tandem with, or instead of writing. While the use of LSP discussed here focuses on its implementation on creative arts courses, it is a highly transferable methodology which can be applied across the spectrum of disciplines and for multiple purposes.
Article
LEGO Serious Play is a business development process where users build metaphorical models from LEGO bricks in order to explore and share their perceptions of various aspects of their working lives. They model important symbolic elements of their personality, emotions, working practices, organization, and the relationships between these elements in order to share stories that aid the construction of organizational knowledge. This chapter reports on trials using LEGO Serious Play with HE students from a range of subject areas who used metaphorical modelling to articulate their learning autobiographies, current situations, orientations to learning, and aspirations. The models helped students make informed choices and helped staff to understand their needs and personalise the learning provision appropriately.