Friday, 17 November 2017

Feedback from i2c2 and a quick reflection

At the very end of i2c2, I asked "What was the best thing about i2c2" and "What would you change about it". The full feedback follows at the end of this post, but I thought I'd pull a few bits and pieces out to reflect on here, though I'll be reflecting on it all offline properly later on!

1) "...this process has taken me down a very exciting path." Out of all the feedback, this struck a chord with me. Any event that has helped attendees change and develop, in such a positive manner, must be worth organising!
2) I'd thought I'd put together quite a light programme with lots of time built in to reflect and create within it, including lots of social time. We had long tea breaks and lunch breaks, all the sessions had time to "do" things rather than just listen, we finished fairly early on an evening and had the social events within the venue itself. The festival of dangerous (library) ideas was a big opportunity to reflect on our profession, our workplaces, and what we'd heard so far. We finished at lunchtime on the 3rd day so people without an horrendously long journey might have time for a little explore of the area. But a recurring theme in the feedback was the opposite, it said stuff like "more time to reflect  & create"; "More “break-out” time for games and conversation"; "More free time to reflect / play". I need to think much more clearly before I do something like this again about how we can explicitly label time to make the reflection / action clearer and to label sessions on a timetable in such a way that it gives permission for people to have this time out and reflection. One to ponder on for me... must be able to do this much more effectively!
3) We had a dog (Panda) come along to the conference... "Panda has loved her first conference"; Q: What was the best thing? A:"Dog!". I think all conferences from now on should have at least one dog attending. Please make this happen fellow conference organisers 🐕.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

i2c2 for library leaders?

This is the first of a few posts about the i2c2 conference I've just run at Scarborough - hopefully it fits okay here as it was a playful, creative experience!

A quick response to a twitter exchange follows, mainly as I can't really reply properly in the shortened form that twitter needs! It is quite "stream of consciousness" in nature, please don't feel this is well argued out, just throwing a few thoughts together:

The lovely Emma Coonan tweeted...

Backed up by Daan, which prompted Emma to wish for library managers to experience an event like it...
So... this event had one senior library manager present, Rosie Jones, who is playful, creative, and innovative. However she isn't necessarily representative of the "typical" senior library leader! Why didn't we have other senior managers from the other library world? How could we expose them to similar ideas and chances to develop in a creative and playful way?

Based completely on my own experiences (I've been to a fair spread of library conferences over the last 13 years!), I'd say that senior library managers like to flock together for their conferences. In the academic library world that means things like the SCONUL conference, or maybe the RLUK conference. I've no doubt that the equivalent is true in other sectors too (SCL conference for public library bosses?). That's not surprising - they have so many people placing demands on their time they may struggle to get away from the workplace, so when they do, networking with their peers may be the most important factor, so they want to go to those conferences that allow that interaction. As you go up the management ladder in any organisation, it can also be a very isolating experience - it can be seen as dangerous to give too much information away in discussions with more junior staff. What if you say something that is interpreted as being critical of your own workplace / colleagues? What will happen if that gets back to them after an open discussion at a conference? That could act as a deterrence to attending a conference that could mix together anyone from student to library director.

So we could do a similar type of event *just* for senior library managers... or try to persuade existing events like SCONUL conference to allow us to disrupt their usual cosiness, but would there be any point in it? Wouldn't that lose the massive benefit of getting the multiple voices, ideas, and approaches that i2c2 brought together? I suppose we could have a new event too just targeted at them, but that would compete for their limited time too, and I suspect the amount of management buzzwords I'd have to throw together to make it feel "for them" might make me feel slightly too dirty...

I don't how we'd persuade more than the odd few outliers amongst senior library managers to come to a more inclusive event as that would feel riskier for them than one just for them, but it would be much more worthwhile.

So... I've no idea how to do an event like i2c2 that more than the odd one or two senior library staff would feel able to go to, even though they would benefit more than most from attending such an event. Anyone else any ideas?

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Interview in Signum

Group working at the Finnish workshop
Group working at the Finnish workshop...

Way back in March, I ran an educational escape room workshop in Helsinki. As a follow up, Eerika Kiuru & Janika Asplund interviewed me, which they wrote up for a journal called Signum. This has just been published (open access). 

So if anyone wants to read my thoughts as I chunter away about escape rooms, play, innovation, and information literacy, the interview is online now...  

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Random thought on boardgamers and playing seriously...

A selection of board games

Just a random thought on board games / "serious" players of board games.

I've been following some discussions online where there are a high proportion of "serious" players of board games. That is, those people who play regularly, probably have a large collection of games, and who are "into" games enough to join groups online and IRL, to play and talk about them!

For some reason, I suddenly realised that many of these players don't actually like play. That is, they don't like the sort of play that the groupings I tend to associate with think of as play! I suppose much of this is summed up by Counterplay events and in individual form by people like Bernie De Koven.  Exploration, fun, freedom, randomness, non-competitiveness, are valued. Play with these groupings of people tends towards the free / spontaneous play that Callois called Paidia

The discussions in some of these board game groups often heavily criticise games because they include randomness, and a discussion the other day went further still. Some games I think are great specifically because they are short, fun, silly, with a strong random element were criticised for the same reasons that I like them!  It suggested that "good" games gave you "perfect knowledge" of the game, no randomness, with the winner always decided purely on how they apply that knowledge... and it is incredibly important to end up with a clear winner (including with collaborative games, winning against the game). I read this discussion and realised that these particular people were probably arguing that the only "proper" game is a controlled simulation. Any randomness, any chance someone could win by luck, was bad. Lots of them will play through a game on their own to see how it works before playing it with others, as the games are often complex and hard to understand - which fits in with the players with the best knowledge / skills wins. Their perfect game was entirely Ludic (see Callois again) - so the opposite end of the play spectrum.

I  wonder is this observation seems right to other people? Does the board game community tend towards this Ludic idea of play and reject the Paidic end as somehow "wrong"?

It's interesting to me as I also see it the other way round, with strictly controlled rules and boundaries (which the board gamers value) seen as "bad play" by some of the people on the other end of the spectrum! I just see them as different and valuable  / interesting in different ways...

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Learning Theory possible game

Inspired by Eleanor Hannan's SOTL game at Playful Learning Conference, I wondered about making a learning theories game. Her game asked people to consider different Epistimologies, Research instruments, etc., to combine into a research design. I wondered if I could do something quite different, but based around learning theories, concepts, and interventions. So taking something like the HoTEL learning theory wheel as a starter, we could pick a "Learning paradigm" (supported  by a key theorist), then a "key concept", perhaps a teaching approach that would fit underneath that, then a particular type of teaching intervention or interaction. So we end up picking teaching interventions that fit within a sensible framework at the end, rather than just because we fancy doing them.

It could even just be a set of cards that link these together, rather than a game too... I'll have to think about this one soon.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Using games to teach Maths to Biologists

a game being prototyped
At the end of last week, I ran a workshop in Sheffield (in the Diamond building at Sheffield Uni). This one was for a group of people who all taught maths to HE students in the biosciences.

Most of them seemed to be having similar problems, dealing with students who could massively vary in terms of maths knowledge and ability, some of whom don't want to be doing maths at all.

Hopefully, some of the games will help them address these issues... and more importantly, the process should help them create more polished games for the students in future!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Moulton College, Making Educational Escape Rooms

Picture of a building at Moulton College
I had the pleasure of running an Educational Escape Rooms workshop in the East Midlands last week at the lovely Moulton College. I do have a soft spot for land based colleges and enjoyed having a pootle around the grounds at lunchtime!

Anyway, we had a productive day, splitting into groups to create prototype escape room activities. To get a flavour of what was produced, we recorded all the final prototypes:

Anyone else fancy something similar running, just give me a shout!