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News From the Playful University

Here you can read the news about what is going on at the Playful University

Tuesday the 17th of November 2020

Interview with DR. Alex Moseley after his talk at the Playful University webinar

The playful university - when leading is done playfully

Can the university become a place where playfulness plays an essential part? We believe so! and fortunately for us there are several leading scholars, thinkers and practitioners out there who believe so too. That is why we have created the playful university platform so we could bring together all of these playful people within higher education and show the world that playfulness should be a part of higher education to create a university where the power of play is acknowledged and used to build an even more sustainable university for the students. and with that in mind we created the playful university webinar series - to show the broad aspects of what this playfulness can do and how it could possibly change the way we do universities today.  

And we were very happy to announce our webinar program this fall because some of the greatest play minds in the world grabbed the opportunity to spread the word with us!

We know that it takes a lot of courage to start using playfulness in higher education but we believe that if this courage is shown within the management it is more likely that staff will play along. And that was why we invited Dr. Alex moseley to present his work on how to be leading playfully. 

Dr. Alex Moseley has been working with playfulness in higher education for many years and as the Head of Curriculum Enhancement at the University of Leicester and a playful leader himself we couldn't have thought of a better match when it came to present playfulness from a leading perspective. Because Leadership, management and strategy are often seen as the least playful of roles in organisations – whether in business or in higher education. They are formal, cold, often delivered from on high to those down below. Set in stone as The Way It Is. 

In this talk, Dr Alex Mosely will examine the way that play – as a social activity – can support a more open approach to leadership: and how leadership through playful facilitation might offer a more effective future model for organisations.

After his talk we asked Dr. Alex Moseley two very essential questions. Because what does it actually take to lead playfully and how do you actually do it? You can watch Dr. Alex Moseley's presentation on the Playful University Platform or read his concrete answers to the questions on how to be a playful leader right here. 

 

What does it mean to be a playful leader and what does it mean to be leading playfully? And what is the difference between the two? 

 This is an interesting question, and I think it’s at the heart of whether an approach will work or not. I see myself as a playful leader, as I apply playfulness to my approach, regardless of whether what or who I’m working with is playful or not. As an example, if I were dealing with a disciplinary case, I would apply open-ness, think about engagement, and think about feedback, goals and rewards: all these would help me to deal with the case fairly and openly.

If, on the other hand, I were to lead playfully, I would apply all of those playful elements outwardly to the situation – which in the above case wouldn’t be appropriate, and would have the inverse effect intended. That’s not to say that I don’t also sometimes lead playfully: things like team meetings, away days, and creative projects align well with outward playfulness, and so at times the two work together well.

Where I think the main problem lies, though, is where ‘leading playfully’ happens without a playful leader. Here, because the underlying approach and thinking is not playful, the resulting play could easily be inappropriate, much like the layering of game mechanics onto non-game activities.

 

How do you yourself lead playfully and how do you help others to become more playful leaders - what does it take? 

 I’ve given a couple of examples in the answer above, but I think there are a few elements that are at the heart of both sides to this question:

Open-ness. Leading playfully is about creating an invitation: all players should be welcomed, and all should play equal part in the activity and share equally in its outcomes. This is the basis of how I think about inclusion and belonging in modern adult learning, and also resonates with Freire’s dialogic model. Open-ness demonstrates its own value, which then helps others to see its value in their own leadership.

Accepting failure. We learn by trying new things. We learn more by failing at first, and then trying again. Academia, and in particular assessment and research, try to avoid failure at all costs; whereas greater outcomes can come from accepting, analysing and improving on failure. I apply this thinking to learning, teaching, research and administration. A simple example: students shouldn’t have any single-point-of-failure assessments – they should always be allowed to practice/try/fail first.

Engagement (and fun). Developers of commercial video games, and the best board games, spend a huge amount of time and money ensuring that their games remain engaging (and ideally fun) for players well beyond the first play. University curricula, on the other hand, tend to have been developed once, and based around the interests of the discipline team. Rethinking curricula from the viewpoint of learner engagement could solve many of the current worldwide problems in HE: inclusion, decolonisation, retention, and overall student engagement (particular if combined with open-ness and the acceptance of failure). I apply this approach to all areas of leadership: strategic planning, institutional projects and events, etc.

I mentioned other elements that help contribute to playful leadership in my talk, but I think these three pull everything together. By keeping these in mind across all areas of leadership activity, it’s almost impossible not to become more playful in your outlook.

Thursday the 22th of October 2020

This just in, the program for the Webinar series Playful Intercultural Dialogues has finally landed! The webinars are free and open to all. Read the full program here:

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Thursday the 28th of May 2020

Videos of the presentations from the Playful University Conference

Videos of the presentations from the words first Playful University conference is now available on the Playful University Platform! You can go watch them right HERE 

Wednesday the 16th of October 2019

Call For Papers - The Playful Academiv

Following the Playful University Conference in Aarhus, August 2019, we have been invited to be guest editors of a special issue of the 'Journal of Play in Adulthood' with a specific focus in relation to the playful university: 

'The Playful Academic: Playful attitudes, approaches and activities in learning, teaching and research'.

We are looking for playful journal articles around the focus of the special issue and its three themes – and am inviting 250 words abstracts in the first instance. Please do consider submitting a proposal for The Playful Academic. Full details, and a timeline, are in the attached call for papers, but please do contact us if you would like further information. We look forward to reading your abstracts for this exciting and timely special edition.

 

Find the Journal and Call for Paper here

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"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

Walt Disney