Ludic Lego and theory head

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I don’t mean to be repetitive but there’s something of a theme going on here – the Lego has been out again. It was the final catch-up for LLI and the TEL-Team at the University of Hull for this academic year.  These ‘catch-ups’ are less formal than ‘meetings’. The idea was a regular slot for sharing news on the digital front. Library and Learning Innovation are student facing while the TEL-Team are staff facing but we both deal with learning technology so it makes sense to share practice – with tea and biscuits.

So far there’s been a number of instances of ‘I didn’t know  that!’ Which was the original idea. Then we decided to alternate news swapping with a more in depth look at something we’re involved with.  Fresh from the Lego Serious Play workshop it was suggested I say a bit more about it. As the essence of LSP is learning by doing, it made sense to dig out the Lego from the attic.

It reinforced how much Lego has changed! While the large box of mixed bricks contained a bit of everything; people, horses, spaceships, wheels and some Technic, it wasn’t as bright or diverse as Lego is today. There was a lack of eyes and other features like trees, flowers and smiley bricks plus a distinct lack of pink and orange. Also it wasn’t as ‘clickable’. If you’re serious about Lego Serious Play then a trip to a Lego Shop and investing in some pick ‘n mix is probably the way to go. But it didn’t stop the innovation. We built towers and (aspirational) movable objects then focused on creating a digital learning environment. The outputs were diverse and insightful. Many incorporated the blurring between real and virtual e.g. how we are located in dual environments as both staff and students and need to find common ground for effective communication.

An extra advantage for me is the insight into the thoughts and research practices of colleagues in LLI. The PhD application is being processed and the theory head is coming back. Doctorates are lonely experiences so opportunities to share thoughts are always welcome. Tweets following the Lego session led me to the Collision of Two Worlds blog post  by Carl Barrow (typical of the serendipitous learning affordances of social media).  Carl’s library scenario parallels my thoughts around the duality of f2f and virtual teaching spaces, while Lee Fallin has generously shared some of his EdD research on space. The focus is library space but the broader theoretical framework which brings together Marxist and postmodernist perspectives has had me rummaging on my bookshelves for David Harvey and Fredric Jameson, blowing the dust from Best and Kellner and reflecting on the power and control of an anti-pm (ex) supervisor for controlling the direction of your research! Now I’m beginning to re-engage with theory, the ‘academic library’ perspectives of my LLI colleagues is really helping, not only with regard to my own work but adding a different and relevant HE perspective. Maybe we should arrange some regular research catch-ups as well!

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