Aflyst: House of Game//Play presents, Potentials of playful learning in adulthood – exploring the magic circle

OBS! Arrangementet er aflyst men vil blive afholdt på senere tidspunkt TBA.   This seminar focuses on potentials in adopting more playful approaches and attitudes in teaching and learning.

07.07.2016 | Pia Gjermandsen Andersen

Dato tor 27 okt
Tid 14:00 16:00
Sted Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Building 5620, Room 139, Paludan-Müllers Vej 48, 8200 Aarhus N

Photo: Rikke Toft Nørgård, AU

This external seminar focuses on potentials in adopting more playful approaches and attitudes in teaching and learning. The talk points towards central advantages of playful learning design that has the potential of moving learning beyond mechanical gaming of the education system – and game//play teaching beyond shallow gamification.

Through adopting the concepts of ‘the magic circle’ and ‘lusory attitude’ – central concepts within studies on game//play – we intend to show how playfulness might actually heighten and strengthen learning – also within formal education. 


OBS! Arrangementet er AFLYST-CANCELED men vil blive afholdt på senere tidspunkt

  • 14:00-14:15: Welcome and introduction
  • 14:15-15:15: Potentials of playful learning in adulthood – exploring the magic circle
  • 15:15-15:30: Short break & coffee
  • 15:30-16:00: Discussions: Playful learning and playfulness in education – possibilities and pitfalls?
  • 16:00-18:00: Wine reception 

Talk & discussion by

  • Professor Nicola Whitton, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
  • Associate Professor Rikke Toft Nørgård, project leader on House of Game//Play, Center for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University
  • Assistant Professor Claus Toft-Nielsen, Center for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University 

Description of event

Within education today, increased focus on quantifiable performance and assessment results is creating an emerging learning culture characterized by fear of failing, avoidance of risk-taking, and increases in extrinsic motivation and goal-oriented behaviours.  This approach to education is performed and experienced by learners and teachers alike. This carries within it the inherent danger of growing and promoting a ‘gaming-the-system’ mind-set to both academic practice and work. In many ways these mind-sets and approaches resemble the ones found within early ‘gamification’ where ‘Points, Badges, and Leaderboards’ (PBL) dominated the discourse and practice. This superficial and instrumental PBL gamification thinking has today to a large extent been abandoned in favour of more fruitful approaches such as gameful and playful design. Unfortunately, this does not seem the case when looking into education. 

In this talk we argue that playful and gameful learning design represents a more rewarding way forward in relation to learning and teaching in education.  Through the concept of the concept of ‘the magic circle’ – a central metaphor within game studies and play culture – we explore the potentials and possibilities of such a more playful approach to teaching and learning. An approach that among other things stimulates intrinsic motivation and educational drive, creates safe spaces for academic experimentation and exploration, and promotes reflective risk-taking, ideation and participation in education.   

Drawing on different cases on learner conceptions of game//play in education and sources for learner disengagement, we highlight the potential of an approach that invites a different type of teaching and learning mind-set and environment, providing a formative space in which mistake-making is not only encouraged, but a necessary part of the learning paradigm. Importantly, when exploring the potential of the magic circle and playfulness in teaching and learning in education we are not advocating for the transformation of education into play. Quite the contrary, we argue that adult education is not, and should not be, simply play, but rather the adoption of a ‘lusory attitude’ – the ability to step inside a magic circle and juggle order and chaos, freedom and control, through playful engagements with teaching, learning and educational practices.   

This talk builds on an a peer-reviewed forthcoming journal article and conference presentation for the Society for Research into Higher Education Research Conference - 

Professor Nicola Whitton is based at the Education and Social Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research focuses on digital innovation in learning and teaching and, in particular, games and learning in the context of Higher Education. Her research interests include interaction design, the impact of motivation and engagement, active learning design, and the pedagogy of play. She has led research projects in gaming for older adults, collaborative game building as a learning approach, alternate reality games for student induction and information literacy, and her most recent project investigates the impact of game-based neuroscience-informed pedagogy on science learning. Her first book, Learning with Digital Games, based on her PhD thesis, was published in 2010, and her more recent book, Digital Games and Learning: Research and Theory (2014), has received considerable international attention. 

Associate Professor Rikke Toft Nørgård is based at the Center for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University. Her research focuses on the intersections of design thinking, educational philosophy and critical pedagogy and technologies for teaching and learning at the future university. Recent publications within this area include ‘Participatory Academic Communities: a transdiciplinary perspective on participation in education beyond the institution’ (2015), ‘Open-Ended Education: how open-endedness might foster and promote technological imagination, enterprising, and participation in education’ (2016) and ’Academic Citizenship: a call for the placeful university beyond the campus’ (2016). 

Assistant Professor Claus Toft-Nielsen is based at the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University. His research focuses on gaming and game cultures, gameful and playful design, worldbuilding and the experience of worldness, gender studies, as well as online and offline gaming practices of MMO-players in the context of their everyday lives. Recent publications within this area include ’Expertise as gender performativity and corporeal craftsmanship: towards a multi-layered understanding of gaming expertise’ (2015), ‘Gaming practices in everyday life’ (2015) and ‘Gandalf on the Death Star: levels of seriality between bricks, bits, and blockbusters’ (2014).  

Arts, Forskningsarrangement - TDM, Seminar, Videnskabelige medarbejdere, Ph.d.-studerende, Forside- TDM