Playing with Playful Ways of Knowing and Learning

Play is training for the unexpected.~ Bekoff, biologist

A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he has experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions he has acquired. ~ Vygotsky, psychologist

Happy Monday!

Nice job with all the work this past week — I can see some powerful connections being made. I plan to do a little writing about it and will share a personal blog post with you all later this week.

In getting started this week, let’s take a moment and reflect on where you have been so far over the last three weeks. So far you have gotten a blog set-up, reviewed the basic texts about Connected Learning and explored its three core values — social, participatory, and equitable. You have created a few things, posted a few blogs, and curated content shared by others.

Read over your blog from the beginning and make notes to yourself (maybe keep an offline journal?) about things that stand out to you. Did you notice something you hadn’t noticed before? DId you do something you feel happy about? Are you still wondering where we are going with this? Is there something that is kind of troubling you but you aren’t sure yet? … Keep these notes for yourself as part of reflecting on what you are learning along the way.

In the week ahead, let’s play!

This week we will start to experiment with different ways of knowing and learning and to do that, we will kick off this week by playing! Yes, that’s right — take some time this week to play, and if someone asks what you are doing (or you ask yourself) you can blame me and ED677. 🙂

A key thing to do this week is play something. And then reflect on your play. All I ask is that you play something new-ish to you and/or add new playfulness to something you already do.

Here a few suggestions if you are stuck:

The rules are simple: 1) When you think of The Game, you lose The Game. 2) When you lose The Game, you announce it to those around you.

As you play, whatever you play, jot down some notes to yourself about the experience: What do you notice about about your play? What ways do you approach it? What questions arise for you? What experiences do you draw upon? What was challenging? What was easy? What have you learned? What the implications for equity?


Okay, now let’s do some reading/watching together. Let’s hear from students and K-12 teachers about the role of play in learning:


Then think with from Katie Salen, a game designer, animator, and educator, about the role of play in more connected learning:

Next up is Mitch Resnick, the founder of the Lifelong Kindergarten program at MIT Media Lab, who writes about playful ways in his new book Lifelong Kindergarten. Let’s tap into his thinking with a 2007 article titled All I Really Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten. And then catch up with him via this video where he talks about the 4 P’s of Creative Play:

We can also connect with James Paul Gee on Learning With Video Games from Edutopia. (And, if you want to go a bit deeper in this direction, try the opening chapter, Semiotic Domains: Is Playing Video Games a “Waste of Time” from his very influential book from 2003 titled What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy.)

For more background on the role of play in a child’s development, review this white paper from the Lego Foundation. And a resource on Digital Play for Global Citizens by the Ganz Cooney Foundation (creators of Sesame Street).


In our playing we often make things — sometimes it’s a score, often it is a sense of satisfaction, and other times it is an artifact, a new connection, or maybe a new way of thinking about things.

By @KJBD during CLMOOC 2014

Share with us what you made through your play. You can write a blog or try something different this time, like a “vblog” (ie. you can record your thoughts on video and post those to your blog instead of text), a screencast, a collage etc. Show us the ways you played and then tell us what playing leads you to think about and wonder about in relation to connected learning and equity.


Find 5/6/7 things — from each others blogs, the readings, and other work you are doing — that you think would support you or others in your life to play a bit more. 


Just a reminder about our online gathering at 7:00pm ET on February 12th with Kathy Walsh. Kathy Walsh is a science teacher at Building 21 in Philadelphia and an alumna of Arcadia University (who also took ED677 in 2015).  Please let me know if you can not join us.

In learning and playful solidarity,


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