Make along live: Experimenting with playful learning online

Contributor: Emma Gillaspy @egillaspy University of Central Lancashire

I’ll be honest, we had a spare 10 minutes in the programme for this year’s Jam and the discussion with the fabulous co-host Anna Hunter went something along the lines of…

We need to do something active…

Something that wont take long for one of us to prepare…

Something fun!

We considered doing a scavenger hunt e.g. “find 5 blue things, first back to their screen wins” but then we said what would they win, kudos?! We also considered a more reflective activity sharing an object but this overlapped with one of the planned activities for the following week, plus there were too many participants to give each person enough time to share so it didn’t feel inclusive for this particular event.

Fortune teller

Whilst these ideas would definitely work (especially in smaller groups), we plumped for a ‘make along’ live as it would get everyone to do something physical (embodied) in our virtual confinement. I offered to experiment with making a ‘fortune teller’. This is something I’ve done many times in class and it works really well in person but I’ve never tried it online before.

So why a fortune teller? Well many people have seen them before so they often bring a sense of childhood nostalgia to a space, an important part of fostering a playful learning environment. Sharing these, often long forgotten, memories create precious moments and human connection. I also think the playful nature of them allow you to push participants into a more challenging reflective space too.

Examples of fortune teller activities I’ve used before include as a module introduction and as a career development reflection. #Timetochange also have a downloadable mental health conversation starter fortune teller and I’ve even seen a fortune teller created by AdvanceHE to engage with the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning (UKPSF).

I would definitely do another ‘make along’ fortune teller online and ideally we would spend a little longer, perhaps in breakout groups, playing the results of our homemade ‘tellers’. Personally, I felt the exhilaration that comes with experimentation and risk, not knowing if it would work online but willing to have a laugh along the way! It turns out others had fun too, as you can see from some of the posts on Twitter.

So why not take the plunge and have a go at your own make along live? It doesn’t need to be a fortune teller, it could be anything you fancy, from making a paper swan or mini notebook to decorating your own facemask. Perhaps these activities would work well as part of your online welcome week. If you do have a go, remember to share your experience with the #creativeHE community via Twitter or Facebook.

Module Introduction Activity
Career development reflection

Watch the recording of this make along live at the #creativeHE jam 2020 below:

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