ASCILITE 2019 highlights: Playful Learning

ASCILITE 2019 was held at the Singapore University of Social Sciences at the end of 2019. The theme of the conference was ‘Personalised Learning. Diverse Goals. One Heart’. One of the interesting sub themes that emerged for me was the idea of ‘playful’ learning. There were a number of presenters who had designed activities that were based on the idea of playing a board game. The role that play has in childhood education, particularly early childhood, is uncontroversial. Learning through play is accepted to support learning, imagination, and creativity (Hromek and Roffey 2009; Lieberman 1977), but as students advance through secondary to tertiary education, there is a greater emphasis on performance and summative assessment, and the relationship between play and education is arguably lost. It was therefore refreshing to see an emphasis on playing in some colleagues’ presentation.

Image of Ed tech game
The Ed Tech Game

Highlights included Colin Simpson, Kate Mitchell and Wendy Taleo‘s untitled Ed Tech game which is a ‘choose your own adventure’ game designed to increase understanding of the complexity of education technology implementations. It does this by guiding players through key decision points in the process from product identification to the start of piloting. The game is built using Twine, an open-source platform that enables the creation of basic non-linear, interactive stories and scenarios.

image of Penopoly game
The Penopoly board game

Another presentation using playful principles was on ‘Penopoly‘, a game loosely based on the board game Monopoly. The PEN in PENopoly stands for Psychology, Education and Neuroscience, and the aim of the game is to introduce educators to the main principles of PEN so that they can use the principles in their teaching. The game was developed by Jamie Fulcher, a senior educational designer at Monash.

The ‘Academic Integrity Board Game’, developed by Dr Amanda White from UTS and featured in a recent Teaching@Sydney article was also discussed as a great example of using a game format to introduce a difficult topic in an engaging and non-threatening way.

The full conference proceedings for ASCILITE 2019 are available here, including papers from the Business School and from Educational Innovation.

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