Serious Play is Serious Learning
Our team used the design thinking process to help us create our analogous research experience. Analogous research asks you to find experiences and places in the world that are good examples of the topic you are exploring. We could think of no better place to deeply understand the mechanisms and characteristics of play than the Creative Kids Museum at Telus Spark. The design thinking process let us design our evening so it would truly allow our participants to immerse themselves in an experience that mirrored that of the students they design for.
Here’s what our team learned by using this process in the design of our professional learning event. We are aligning each of our lessons with a few of the design mindsets:
Empathy & Human-Centredness - In human-centred design, we are primarily concerned with solving problems for human beings. To understand why play might be an essential piece of learning for students, we needed to gain empathy for them by putting ourselves in their shoes. So, we played. After Spark closed to the public, squeals of delight could be heard from the Creative Kids Museum as teachers climbed, splashed, juggled, tinkered, and pretended. We learned by playing, just as we wanted our students to.
Radical Collaboration - We learned we are truly better together than we are apart. This event could not have happened without the incredible teamwork on our team. Radical collaboration means you seek perspectives outside those you normally work with. For our symposium, we invited collaborators from the maker community within Calgary, which is a phenomenal group of inspiring people, generous in their time and expertise. We also collaborated with Dr. David Jardine, retired professor of curriculum studies and educational philosophy, as our keynote speaker. David affirmed our suspicion that play is vitally important in learning, and it in itself can be a reason to learn.
Optimism & Embracing Ambiguity - Full disclosure: we had absolutely no idea what would happen when we gave groups of teachers their “Top Secret” packages containing their challenges and set them loose in the Creative Kids Museum to play and engage in pedagogical conversations. What we were sure of, though, is that because we carefully designed the experience based on empathy, we could trust the outcome would be a good one. And we were right.
We are Learning Specialists with Curriculum & Pathways (@CBECAP): Erin Quinn (@luckybydesign), Tracy Dalton (@tadalton17), Stephanie Bartlett (@sj_bartlett), and Steve Clark (@stevewclark). We love working with teachers and schools in the topics of play, maker education, design thinking, learning commons, and designing rich and meaningful learning experiences.