The Power of Play: Infusing Fun into Professional Development

My tags
My tags

I just had the most fun facilitating a session here at the MACUL conference!  As promised, this blog post will outline our thinking (from my perspective) in planning the session, the inspiration for the activity, and why these types of activities are so rich when integrated into professional development sessions or classroom learning.

The outline of the activities are here.(Please read the document if you did not attend to get a taste of what occurred). I first encountered this activity at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting.  I was intrigued by the idea of re-creating a social networking experience by actually socially networking with the people in the room.  I liked that in order to highlight different aspects of what occurs online, we were asked to talk to strangers.  We were able to see the cognitive tasks of what occurs in online environments in new ways because those interactions, so commonplace as to become invisible, were now made visible by making it strange.

By going around and discussing our tags, our words in common, we were able to make new connections and further our own learning.  Debriefing with the lens of game and play theory, we were able to highlight the risk-taking that is necessary to really integrate something new.  Failing to master something, especially something challenging, should be encouraged, because it is through failure that we learn.  When we learn through trial and error, we make that learning part of ourselves, those neural pathways become set, and we have a new piece of knowledge that also has meaning.  Facts and how-to’s are immediately available from a quick Google search, but to integrate that learning into our psyche: that has stickiness.  We won’t forget.

Fostering play and risk-taking is important especially for adult learners.  Most of us teachers were really good at school and loathe getting “Fs.”  But with technology, there are no grades, only the ability to puzzle through a tricky problem and come to a solution.  And so we play, we fail, and we try again.

Feedback and questions on the session are welcome.


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