Creative and Relational Thinkers: The Potential of LEGO® Serious Play®: A New L&T Project

IMG_2630Innovative pedagogy utilising LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP) has the potential to enhance enquiry-based learning for both educators and students. Innovative LSP modelling presents opportunities for students to explore their thinking on ways that enhance their learning experiences, develops creative enquiry skills and fosters teamwork and self-reflection. The outcome offers learning that is more relational and less instrumental (Skemp, 1976).

Potentially transformative approaches to learning and teaching are emerging across the sector, including flipped classrooms, double-loop learning and bricolage (Sharples et al, 2014). We believe that the LSP methodology has potential to support and enhance these innovations through a social constructivist inclusive learning experience.

LSP is a facilitated meeting, communication and problem-solving process that was developed in 1996 initially in a business context as a change management tool. It has since been adopted in Higher Education to support teaching & learning, research, and ideation. In a LSP workshop each participant builds a series of 3D LEGO® models in response to the facilitator’s questions. The metaphors produced by the 3D models serve as a powerful basis for deep group discussion, knowledge sharing and problem solving. They foster creative thinking and finding unique solutions using skills of critical reflection. This methodology utilises visual, auditory and kinesthetic skills and the methodology serves as a shared language regardless of culture or position.

“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation” – Plato

Sharples, M. et al (2014). Innovating Pedagogy 2014: Open University Innovation Report 3. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Skemp, R. R. (1976). Relational understanding and instrumental understanding. Mathematics Teaching, 77, 20-26.

Project Leads
Sarah King – Academic Practice Advisor, Centre for Learning and Academic Development

Danielle Hinton – Learning Design Consultant, College of Social Sciences

Project Start / End 1 August 2015 – 31 July 2017

University of Birmingham Educational Enhancement Project Funding Offered by the Centre for Learning and Academic Development (CLAD) and Learning Spaces with support from the Alumni Impact Fund


Delivering Online Distance Learning (DODL) Final Report

This paper will present the methods and findings of the first phase of the Delivering Online Distance Learning (DODL) project. DODL was funded by the Centre for Learning and Academic Development (CLAD), a unit within the University of Birmingham (UoB) over the 2010 – 2011 academic year and proposed to:

1. Investigate ODL practice within UoB and a selected sample within UK
Higher Education institutions
2. Produce an overview of a range of ODL models with reference to the literature that provides practitioners stimulus and guidance for designing and developing their own programmes or modules

Read: Delivering Online Distance Learning Final Report

DODL Models:

ODL Case Studies:


Of Course! Game Based Staff Development

It has been sitting on my table for a few days now. In preparation for its first official outing I played (by myself sadly ) “Of Course!” the board game designed by Alex Mosley of Leicester University. The game is designed to help teams start discussing designing a new course or enhancing an existing one. Here is his reflection on building and testing it. Designed to be a conversation starter, I’m sure it will be a helpful tool in our staff development arsenal.


Of course I won!


Another interesting game which I got to play a month or two ago at an OU event was Accreditation! (see below) designed by Rachel Forsyth and Nicola Whitton from Manchester Metropolitan University. THis is one to reflect on. Have a go yourself because all you’ll ever need to play the game is here:!


Another one we played explored the initial student experience. We were encouraged to place snakes or ladders comments onto a typical student timeline:

Initial Student Experience

Power Point & Technology Enhanced Learning

Power Point on its own is a powerful tool, more than we’d ordinarily think. In conjunction with the range of tools available (such as Articulate, Adobe Presenter, Camtasia, Panopto) it becomes something more.

Counterterrorism Scenario (University Central Oklahoma)

Connect with Haji Kamal

Practical Guide to Creating Branching PPT based Scenarios

PPT Templates for eLearning

Creating a Photo Cube Effect in PPT for Branching Scenarios

PPT Timers

U21 Learning Environment Design Forum


The University of Birmingham hosted the 5th U21 Learning Environment Design Forum from 19th to 23rd September 2011. The focus of the challenge this year was one “of creating more effective on-campus learning environments within the context of building refurbishment and the issues relating to the design of effective learning environments within buildings built 100, 50 and 12 years ago which can provide an equality of experience for the students across those buildings.”

“The design forum is intended to engage participants in discussion and design activity aimed at creating new generation learning environments in higher education.  An important aspect of the forum is its aim to promote inter-disciplinary approaches to the design and development of improved learning environments and, to this end, the event encourages the involvement of those with a professional role in this field – including property and estates leaders, audio-visual and information technology staff, educational and curriculum designers, professional/faculty developers and academics.”

The Forum

Staff from the University were joined by colleagues from Melbourne, Virginia, Hong Kong, Auckland, Dublin, Lund, Shanghai Jiao Tong, Nottingham, Derby, Aston universities.

Participants were arranged into 4 groups of 4-5 members and given a real-life design activity based on actual campus settings (Arts building and Learning Centre). Days 1-4 included a mixture of design time, networking and short contextual presentations. Day 5 concluded with team presentations to a range of senior University staff. The presentations will feed into the Learning Spaces division & Schools discussion re use of learning spaces in these buildings. An exciting and exhausting time was had by all participants.

Presentation by Team 3:

Delivering Online Distance Learning (DODL)


Having access to curriculum design resources is a fundamental way in which the University of Birmingham can support quality enhancement. The sub-set of curriculum design which this project wishes to explore is Online Distance Learning (ODL). ODL is defined as any programme or element thereof which “has a significant component delivered to students online and at a distance” (HEFCE, 2010). We define “distance” in terms of this project as learning that incorporates some time or geographical distance barrier (this includes placements, work-based learning, year-in-industry as well as shift patterns for postgraduate students).

Scope of initial project:

  • audit ODL practice informed by current pedagogical practice, research and innovation, both here at Birmingham and more widely
  • work towards establishing the structures that will allow the development of a resource supporting the broader curriculum design process for ODL

Approaches have been made by key individuals from within CAL, MDS and EPS to staff within the CoSS eLearning team and wider, signalling the increasing importance that is being placed on ODL in its various guises. This highlights the challenge to move from a cottage industry approach towards embedded systems based on good practice and, ultimately, to input into a Birmingham Curriculum Design online resource. Phase one is limited by staffing constraints within the planned time period.

Who We Are

Danielle Hinton, Learning Design Consultant, College of Social Sciences
Linda Curry: E-Learning Manager, School of Government and Society

What We Did

Prezi Summary Available from:


A number of strands were produced as a result of this project. Firstly there were ODL Models, Case Studies and Planning Notes as well as an End of Project Report and Final Report (in progress). The models, case studies and planning notes are the first (we hope) in an ongoing series.