(Doctor doctor jokes are now here)

playful learning logo

Back in 1996 I had a project engaging doctors - surgeons of thoracic medicine - in an online community of practice. It was effective and we learned a lot. A number of folk were involved - Andy Simpson did a lot of the work in the end.

But although the project was enjoyable, the surgeons got a bit down - so many of their patients die - and they wanted cheering up. So with them I set up a page on Jollyology to swap doctor doctor jokes in a spoof research project (they contributed, were "published", peer reviewed and could then add DJ - doctor of jollyology - to their names!). Great fun, I've tried to remember their best contributions (jokes!) here, but now use the domain as a link to work on playful learning, which I still believe to be important.

Those links will emerge from this page...

I've been n advocate for Playful Learning for a very long time - but it is an idea whose time has finally come. This year (2010) at the vast BETT technology in education show at London's Olympia our Show Feature stand this year had the theme of Playful Learning and this page connects to content and links associated with that stand and its focus.

I wrote this piece for the Guardian's pre-BETT Supplement:

"Survey after survey suggests that our UK schoolchildren may be some of the least happy in Europe. A diet of tests and chasing the elusive benefits of imposed incrementalism may be a part of that. Some schools can and do teach unremittingly to the tests, and the tests are frequent.

It's not just our children of course: talking to a headteacher as part of an inclusion research project in Hong Kong I asked what future learning might aspire to be like there. "Surely" she said, "there might be a little more joy?". And technology is one very effective way of adding, or reintroducing, that joy. Secondary age children mourn the loss of play from their primary years and yet play is something that ICT has brought into learning from the very beginning. ICT in learning holds the potential to bring back playfulness and engagement and in 2010, finally, it is doing just that.

Since those earliest days of Space Invaders the dream of engaging children in learning as fully as they are evidently engaged in their game play has been a significant part of ICT events everywhere. But by 2010 the whole debate has become a lot more complex:

  • our understanding of cognitive development tells us more clearly how the problem solving of games can help other learning tasks too; children playing games at the beginning of their day can jumpstart a whole cultural change in school so that "being brainy is cool";
  • children as games designers learn to deconstruct and critique new media;
  • and of course the design of new learning environments, of hardware and software are finally embracing the need for playfulness too.

Finally, we really know that Playful Learning is highly effective.

This year's BETT central feature highlights Playful Learning. Play of course has escaped from its boxes and much of it now uses GPS trackers, handheld and pocketable devices, collaborative teams, international links and more. A host of play based activity - with plenty of screens and a whole class of children from Lampton School in Hounslow who will be playing, learning, challenging, tweeting and provoking BETT guests using a diversity of hardware, software, devices and ideas.

Playful Learning is great fun and has re-energised classrooms, rekindled school parent relationships, re-engaged brains and provided at times a powerfully competitive space for problem solving, and at other times a place for real individual concentration. At this year's BETT, we hope you can be a part of it".

© 2020

My ggod friend Merlin John runs a pivotal blog - very much at the heart of the deabte about ICT in Learning - with some great contributors.
See MerlinJohn Online
Merlin asked me for some thoughts about the BETT stand - here is what I wrote:

Two articulate students from the wonderful Leigh Academy in Dartford interviewed me at BETT, asking about Playful Learning and more.
Their videoed interview is on YouTube here.

Useful links (this is work in progress):

Institute of Play: "Working across a diverse community of players, the Institute of Play leverages games and play as critical contexts for learning, innovation, and change in the 21st century."



last edited on Monday, January 25, 2010