Sunday, 30 April 2017

New book chapter - Reasons to Play in Higher Education

cartoon of a university building
I've a new book chapter available: Reasons to Play in Higher Education*.
It is in a book pulled together by Matthias as part of the Counterplay festival and associated playful goodness :)
I pitched something on why play should be part of HE, including matching what Government and employers wanted out of HE and graduates when the call for papers came out. When I started writing it, I started to feel it all sounded a bit too serious, and not at all playful. So I scrapped everything I wrote, went to Collabhub (where people can pitch collaborative projects with students) and asked if anyone would be up for turning my ideas into a more visual form. Jonny Clementson came on board and I paid him to create a short comic based on my ideas... a bit of bouncing backwards and forwards with ideas and text, and we ended up with a 6 page comic!
So it's now in "The Power of Play", which has been printed, but I don't think it's available to buy yet! I've put my chapter online to download though, so I hope some people like it :)


*Full reference: Walsh, Andrew and Clementson, Jonny (2017) Reasons to play in Higher Education. In: The Power of Play - Voices from the Play Community. CounterPlay, Aarhus, Denmark, pp. 181-187. ISBN 9788799975204

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Room of stories - Viborg meeting

Viborg Library, a white building in the sunshine.

I was at Viborg library (picture above) earlier this week for a full day meeting helping to get the "Room of Stories" going. This is a project run by Marlene at Viborg library aimed at encouraging children (particularly boys) to read using an escape room.

It was an incredibly positive meeting with lots of lovely people, though I worry we left them with too many ideas to pin down afterwards!

As well as talking about results of the first meeting, ideas around escape rooms in general, and interviewing some local lads about what they enjoyed doing / playing, we split into 2 groups and tried to turn everything we discussed into some prototype ideas.

My group came up with a computer that had achieved a level of sentience and power that meant it was about to take over the world and destroy all humans. Luckily the lead programmer was a bit of a Science Fiction geek and had hidden override codes hidden in SciFi related clues in the building (so introducing lots of new worlds they could explore later in books).

sketch of a prototype escape room


The children would be split into soldiers and scientists to solve the puzzles and override the armed security systems (the soldiers - lots of physical type puzzles) and reboot / switch off the main computer (the scientists - lots of mental puzzles).

Can't wait to see how the project evolves over the next few months :)


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Lagadothon and LILAC17

Mystery box sat on a windowsill
Prototype box
So... last week I went to the fabulous LILAC in Swansea. Amongst other things, I did the Lagadothon with Jess, where we get to show a prototype (otherwise known as a bonkers idea from me) and get feedback on it.

My thing for this year was a subscription box of teaching goodies for librarians and learning support staff. So a box that would come through the post (3 or 4 a year, perhaps?) with a mixture of teaching ideas (lesson plans, alternative uses, etc) and games or other finished teaching interventions (things that could just be got straight out in a class), aimed at different levels (and extra suggestions for differentiation) and settings.

Each box would have a different theme (we took one full of stuff on "sources of information"), with obvious ones being things like "search strategies", "referencing", "Sources of information", etc., that lots of us teach, but also stuff like "critical appraisal", "academic writing", "Open Access", "copyright" - we ended up with a fair list of things thanks to the feedback we received.

People seemed open to spending anything from £20 to £50 per box, with it being a bit harder to pay for a subscription than individual boxes (though a subscription was seen as a great way of doing it!). The lower end wouldn't pay for much at all (and we'd need to send *loads* out to pay for things like the design work), but we could probably find something in between. It was also pointed out that both teachers and school librarians might well love these as it fits in with how they work anyway - they are used to paying for resources!

It went down better than I was expecting, so I suppose I ought to think of a way to make it happen over the next few months... which might also be an opportunity to redo some of the games I use in a more polished way, suitable for printing "officially" and sending out down this route. So I'd probably start off by redoing SEEK!, Sources, and the referencing games I use, as long as I can find (and afford) a suitable graphic designer and find the time to tinker!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Huddersfield Escape Room Workshop


I ran another Educational Escape Room workshop in Huddersfield last week, at the lovely Heritage Quay! It was a full day of following a set process to create some prototype educational escape room ideas - videos of the prototypes are here to watch.

Amy has blogged about the workshop properly (rather than this quick reflection & video link from me!).

Thank you to everyone who took part and worked hard throughout the day :-)

I collected some feedback at the end of the day, and I was particularly interested in whether I should let attendees play some examples, or whether that would influence them too much (so they'd copy and get less out of it!). The general feeling seemed to be that they'd appreciate examples to play, perhaps later in the session (so it didn't influence too much!), so I'll have to think about how I can tweak future workshops accordingly.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Helsinki escape room workshop and feedback

I ran a workshop in Helsinki earlier this week - a full day of creating educational escape rooms with a lovely bunch of Finnish librarians.

All the groups created prototype escape rooms during the day, I was really impressed with the variety of things they created and the ideas they came up with.

Next version of this will be an open workshop I'm running in Huddersfield on 13th April, bookings are via Eventbrite for anyone who wants to come along.

The quick (post-it at end of session type) feedback from the Helsinki event is below:
  • This was an awesome day! Thank You!
  • Really enjoyed today's session, it was thought-provoking and engaging. Thanks.
  • Thank you for the workshop. I got lots of good tips and will definitely use this method.
  • I learned about escape rooms!
  • I'm happy with this workshop, plus I had a lot of fun! I liked the balance of hearing / listening and creating by ourselves. Andrew was very helpful whenever we got stuck with our plans. Altogether I feel I have some new ideas and methods to bring back home.
  • I liked how I had to think in totally new ways!
  • An interesting (and exciting) workshop! I'm not sure if I can use this in my teaching. Thanks!
  • Thank you for an inspiring day! :-)
  • Thank you! Great day and collaboration. I got new point of view to training. This helps me with my Masters in Library Sciences.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Lots of open workshops!



I've got lots of (open) workshops coming up! All subject to having enough people book on them, but we have:

Teaching Tips for Librarians, Friday afternoon, 10th March, Sheffield.
https://shefftips.eventbrite.co.uk
This covers some of the basic teaching mechanics and is aimed at librarians. We look at: Learning Objectives; Lesson Plans; Assessment; Evaluation and some related issues. We'll give practical help, tips, interventions, and templates to use in your own teaching sessions, with particular emphasis on "one-shot" teaching sessions and active learning interventions. It will run as a highly interactive workshop.

Making Educational Escape Rooms, All day Thursday, 13th April, Huddersfield.
https://hudescape.eventbrite.co.uk
A full day workshop making educational escape room style activities, aimed at anyone interested in using escape room ideas for teaching.
The day will be hands on, with a process scaffolded to enable attendees to work in groups to create a prototype of an escape room style activity. By the end of the day, all attendees (in their groups) will have sketched out an escape room style activity and started to create the puzzles that make up that activity.

Creative Teaching Double Bill, All day or half day Friday, 5th May, Manchester.
https://mancdouble.eventbrite.co.uk
Both these workshops are aimed at anyone interested in creative and playful approaches to teaching, particularly in FE and HE sectors. 
In the morning will be:
Picture This! Using the ‘Writing Essays by Pictures’ approach to teaching academic practice
Writing Essays by Pictures is a workbook for students who need help with researching and writing their first evidence based research essay for university. It explains academic practice that often remains hidden to students through everyday analogies and offers activities that allow students to explore the research and writing process in the step-by-step way of painting by numbers.
All attendees will receive a copy of 'Writing Essays by Pictures' (list price £15).

In the afternoon we have:
Making (non-digital) educational games
In this afternoon workshop, we will follow a carefully scaffolded process to prototype educational games. Working in small groups, you will create a prototype game and share it with your fellow participants in just 3 hours.This process can then be followed after the event to quickly and easily create educational games and playful learning experiences for your learners in future.

Finland workshop

I've a few workshops booked in over the coming months, plus more are in the planning stages. One I'm particularly excited about is in Helsinki at the main University Library! It's been arranged through the STKS (Finnish Research Library Association).
I'll be running a workshop around creating escape room materials for libraries - using the workbook I've created as a template / scaffold for the day.
I won't have much of a chance to have a nosey around, but still excited about spending 24 hours in Finland!

The day after I'm going to Tallinn, Estonia (a short-ish ferry ride away), finishing off setting stuff up to run all the training, etc., that I do through an Estonian company as an e-resident, which I'm hoping will be much easier admin wise than in the UK.