Friday, 15 May 2020

Institute of Adult Play ponderings

Sample Logo for an "Institute of Adult Play"
I've pondered for ages ways of encouraging / creating more work in the field of play and adults for myself and some friends. Something that could pull opportunities for us together and enable those that want to escape from their existing jobs, or to gradually do so at least. Some of them joke about setting up a fun-versity or play-versity as an antidote to their work at universities. But what about something smaller? So I was pondering some options...

Sample Logo (2) for an "Institute of Adult Play"

How about something that is a cross between a provider of training and a social / professional network for adult play people? An "Institute of Adult Play"?
There are such a wide range of people who work with play and adults, so the first thing it would do is pull people together - provide a platform for cross fertilisation of ideas, for sharing opportunities for work, and to generally share stuff amongst themselves.
The second thing would be to provide training - partly training for those play professionals, but also a way of providing training to the wider public / organisations. Members of the "institute" could provide training on a shared online platform (which spreads out the costs of providing it) as well as linking to training where we have to be physically present (when we can eventually do so again!)- hopefully that would mean people would do one course, then come back to do someone else's, increasing the work for all of us.

Sample Logo (3) for an "Institute of Adult Play" 
It would probably be a not for profit type membership organisation - with members paying a monthly or yearly fee (£5 a month maybe?!) which would let us pay for a membership platform with a virtual learning environment built in. Some of these platforms let you charge for membership, plus have the choice to charge for courses or offer them free for different membership levels, so could let people develop their own course(s) on the platform which we'd pay out for when people booked on the course. Or dish out the membership fee dependant on how many people had done each course? Or some other way of spreading the money!

This would be really risky to set-up. It'd need a small amount of seed money to set up as a company (maybe a Community Interest Company - a type of social enterprise?), but a much larger amount to run a platform / network.
Sample Logo (4) for an "Institute of Adult Play"
So I pondered a Kickstarter? If we risked a small amount of money to set up a business, it could be done in a way that it only started trading if the Kickstarter was successful, otherwise just got closed down again before it actually did anything. The Kickstarter would be a way of getting enough money to run the platform for a year, plus gauging if enough people were interested in becoming members to be worthwhile!

So... does this all sound completely ridiculous, or does it sound amazing and you'd all like to be directors and founder members? Should we take a gamble and try and set something up? Would anyone like to play along in running something like this? Let me know (preferably via Twitter...) @PlayBrarian with the somewhat long #tag of #InstituteOfAdultPlay

Monday, 23 March 2020

Play in HE zine 7

two zines on a table
We're up to zine #7 (out of a theoretical 10) posted out now, with the latest one being a special pandemic in HE edition... I'm not sure what will happen with the final 3 as they were meant to be produced and sent out over the next few months, which is likely to be peak time for the pandemic.

I'm also working from home, so expecting my paper and printer ink to last long enough to create about 250 copies of zines (plus extra bits and bats) might be pushing it to say the least... and I don't really want to be getting extra supplies in during peak pandemic!

So I might have to do just one print copy (the final one?) and a couple of electronic only versions? I'm not yet sure...

Anyway, the first 7 are all on the OneHE foundation pages for members (as they provided a small grant for the project). I still intend pulling the content together and sharing it for anyone else, but not until the end, which should be this summer at some point!

Friday, 13 December 2019

Online course on play in adulthood

Screenshot of the front page of an online course, theories of play in adulthood
I've been pondering (for a while!) what we could do as a course in adult play - something that covered a bit of theory to help people come from the same place, but also included practical elements and reflection to link theory to practice.

One thing I thought might work is either an online course, or perhaps a blended approach but mainly online. So as a first step I've created a short (should take just under 1 hour!) online module / course that really briefly intoduced some play scholars and called it "Theories of Play in Adulthood". It's a mix of short (and simple) videos and some textual content.

You can access it here: 

I thought this might act as a starting point, then other online modules could contain more practical advice (but linking back to theories) and be slightly longer, especially as they'd include activities to complete (the first one is just reading / watching vids). So maybe have:
  • Theories of play (about 1 hour long)
  • Enabling play (Short bit of theory / reading, then tips, examples, and practical exercises)
  • Playful training approaches (Short bit of theory / reading, then tips, examples, and practical exercises)
  • Playful leadership approaches (Short bit of theory / reading, then tips, examples, and practical exercises)
  • Any others?
If people were up for it, these could then be combined with some form of assessment. So a small charge for each module, but do "Theories of play", "Enabling play", plus one other module and people could submit a creative, practical, playful assessment for marking (for an extra charge), which would result in feedback and a certificate of some sort - preferably together with a "sharing" day where people completing the course would share what they've done.

So does anyone want to do the really short theory one and let me know if they think I should create a full course (3 modules for starters?). Plus I'd also extend the first theory one slightly once a few people have done it - think it's a bit too brief at the moment! At the end of this first module I've put a few questions to gauge interest and ask about content, etc. I'll then ponder whether to do an actual "proper" course with multiple modules...

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Call for chapters on Library Pedagogies

A call for chapter submissions from library workers on their pedagogies and pedagogical approaches.

Andrew and Sam welcome short (250-500 words) proposals for chapters to feature in this book, provisionally called “Library Pedagogies”. Proposals should include a short summary of the author’s pedagogical approach, how this connects with their teaching philosophy and an outline of the key factors that have influenced that approach. Please include a brief professional biography of no more than 3 or 4 sentences.

Each chapter should focus upon how the author’s wider approaches to teaching within libraries influence their pedagogy: individual teaching interventions could feature but are less important. Your chapter should be reflective in style and share those underlying beliefs in the purpose behind your teaching, how students learn in your settings, and how your approaches are informed by learning theories and the wider literature. Tell the story of the journey you have taken to evolve your pedagogy, and the internal and external influences that have shaped your practice. Your final chapters should be between 4,000 - 8,000 words long.

Deadlines for proposals: 24th January 2020 
First draft: 24th June 2020 
Reviewers comments returned by: August 2020
Final version of chapters: 6th November 2020
Publication: Early 2021

A wide range of pedagogical approaches could be covered, which may include but are not limited to any of the following:
  • Critical pedagogies
  • Feminist pedagogies
  • Pedagogies from under-represented groups 
  • Enquiry based learning
  • Problem based learning
  • Team based learning
  • Active Learning
  • Lecturing
  • Playful or game based Learning 
  • Creativity and learning
  • Visual approaches
  • Improvisation approaches
  • Using Drama techniques
  • Psychogeography / space exploration
  • Rhizomatic Learning 
  • Gonzo education 
  • Punk / anarchist education

Andrew and Sam will offer a supportive and collaborative approach for chapter authors and would like to hear a range of voices, mainstream and under-represented, whether or not you have written for publication previously. We will encourage, but not impose, the use of collaborative writing tools so that authors can share their chapters with each other and offer informal review and support. We intend to also offer a two day writing retreat (in the North of England) for UK chapter authors to spend time writing their chapters together with the editors. 

Note on licencing: Contributors will retain full copyright over their work. All authors / contributors will sign a simple agreement to allow rights to publish their contribution and to permit others to use the contents of the book under a CC licence. 

From the Editors,

Sam Aston (@manclibrarian) & Andrew Walsh (@PlayBrarian)

Please send proposals to 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Aalborg workshop

I had a lovely (though brief) visit to Aalborg to deliver a workshop for FLIP'D today (not in the lovely looking building in the image, but in the very impressive NordKraft). I'm glad I managed a couple of hours wandering around too - I love an "explore" of somewhere new to me :)

I talked a little about play, games, library teaching, permission to play, and we carried out a few activities too - thank you to everyone for taking part! I used more slides, with more text, than normal mainly so I could upload them somewhere for reference - they are now on Slideshare (plus the organisers will share them with attendees directly).

I mentioned the Journal of Play in Adulthood at the start, as someone asked me about it, I'll share a link to that! It's an Open Access peer-reviewed journal (no charges to read or publish in), I'd love anyone using play with adults to consider publishing their work in it :)  My article on "Permission to Play" in this journal goes into much more detail around the issues we used the "chatterbox" (flip / flop?) to discuss. 

I also mentioned the fantasic Counterplay Conference / Festival organised by Mathias Poulsen - hopefully he's now organising these every 2 years at Dokk1 in Aarhus. I tend to feel that the short video I tried to share at the end sums it up nicely - the giant cardboard rabbit that hops up to the clown (watch the vid!) is responsible for the most surreal experience I've ever had at a conference. A room full of people sat watching a cardboard rabbit hop to the front to deliver a plenary session and everyone accepted it as a perfectly normal thing to happen :)

Apparantly some of the links in my book for librarians using play are broken, I'll try and check through it over the next few days and add links below if I can find and fix any. The one that was specifically mentioned to me was SEEK! (A simple card game for search skills) - that should be on my institutional repository to download / adapt / print for free.

(Note - I might edit this later to add a few more links.)

Monday, 23 September 2019

First few zines

Chatterbox for Zine #3
I've now sent out the first 3 zines covering some definitions of games and play, plus one on giving "permission to play". They've all had extra materials in the envelopes such as the chatterbox shown in the image above.

I'm putting them on the OneHE website, which is only accessible for members of that organisation, so I'll pop them somewhere else too at some point (and link to them from this blog) as it'll be nice to have them more widely available too. Not sure where it makes sense to stick a bunch of PDFs though!

Next one will go out at some point in October (not sure exactly when) and will probably be on the "benefits of play in HE"... though I may get distracted and do a different topic entirely :)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Permission to play article

I've just had my latest article published in the Journal of Play in Adulthood - "Giving permission for adults to play".

It is (of course!) free to read, hope some of you enjoy it and perhaps find it useful.


Play is often seen as inappropriate in adult settings, with social expectations causing adults to frame situations in such a way that we often lack permission to play. Semi-structured interviews with fourteen people who use playful approaches with adults were carried out to explore how they gave this “permission to play” in their contexts. It was seen that they used a range of different ways consistent with the idea of needing to signal a shift in frame, and this range of approaches to giving “permission to play” are grouped and summarized in the article.

More from the journal at: