I recently attended a Lego for Learning workshop hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University and led by Chrissi Nerantzi and Dr. Steven Powell. The idea of the workshop was to look at how Lego Serious Play methods can be used in teaching and learning. A range of colleagues from different educational sectors attended, which gave the day a nice, well rounded perspective.
The day began with a reflective warm up exercise using Lego – first create an animal, then add something to it which represents yourself, which wasn’t that easy when you’ve only got a minute to do it! The group then shared thoughts on their own creations and the representative elements we had each added. The idea of this was to get us in the mode of thinking about creating metaphorical models using Lego, and also reflecting on what they represented.
One of the interesting things about this process, even in the early part of the day, was that everybody in the group contributed, and this would continue throughout as we took part in the various exercises – it all felt very democratic.
In the next exercise we were asked to build a model of our ideal learning environment and then draw out shared themes which we could identify in each others models. We then constructed a shared model which collated our thoughts on the various themes – ours turned out to be a boat.
Whilst this all might seem to be a bit fluffy on the surface, it actually led us into a deep discussion around learning environments and find commonalities that we felt were important in their design. It wasn’t really the Lego model which was important, it was how we used it to express our thoughts on learning design, and we articulated our thoughts differently than we would have if we had written them down. It was a very reflective process, and by making something, however abstract, we’d engaged with the thought process in a different way and one which enabled us, very quickly, to engage in a creative discussion and generate a lot of ideas.
There’s plenty of theory around how and why Lego Serious Play methods work and the ArtLab website has lots of information on research projects which have been conducted. This video from Professor David Gauntlett is also well worth watching in which he explains the theory behind some of the methods he used to gather research using Lego:
Overall, the workshop was very enjoyable and I came away with a lot of ideas for different methods for using tools like Lego to engage students with theories, ideas, research or reflection. I also got some free Lego 🙂