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


Clicker Pedagogy

Audience response systems or Clickers are devices or phone apps that can change the class dynamics, allowing the tutor to hear from the whole group (rather than just the loud or confident students), to encourage ‘deeper’ learning (through peer instruction) and provide speedy, reliable feedback for both tutor and students about group and individual. Bruff (2012) and Beatty (2010) provide helpful frameworks that can help you design and run small group teaching in small, medium and large groups. Whenever you introduce a new technique or process into the classroom it is important that the reason for using it is thoroughly explained and expectations are communicated.


Whilst most of the research into the use of clickers and associated technologies have taken place in STEM subjects there is also a place for their use in the Social Sciences. For those interested in seeing Clickers explained please access one or more of the following videos produced by the University of Colorado at Boulder:


Enquiry-based Learning Roles & Responsibilities

Student roles (FAQ Sheet) can transform EBL / IBL activities whether designed for online or face to face delivery.

————– Student Advice Page Starts Here ————–


During each EBL task, all group members are assigned different “group working” roles. These roles are designed to help the group function efficiently and effectively.

  • Make sure that you are clear about the responsibilities of the role(s) you are asked to undertake.
  • If you are unable to engage with your group for any reason (illness, holiday, workload, family emergency etc) please post a message on your group bulletin board (where possible). This should be posted at the start and finish of any period when you are not available.


  • Ensure that all group members have agreed on how the EBL task will run
  • Coordinates and posts meeting dates and agenda
  • Chairs meetings whether face to face or online
  • Keeps task on track
  • Helps to ensure everyone is involved and has a task to do
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the task and scenario
  • To participate in the group discussion and research
  • To make minutes of meetings by structuring points in regards to
    • strategies chosen
    • ideas and issues
  • Post the minutes of all meetings to online
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the task and scenario
  • To participate in the group discussion and research
Critical Thinking Checker
  • Distinguish between verifiable facts and value claims
  • Encourage the use of Harvard Referencing and encourage use of reliable sources
  • Identify unstated assumptions, ambiguous claims or arguments
  • Determine strength of an argument
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the task and scenario
  • To participate in the group discussion and research
Group Management Liaison
  • Identifies problems within the group and suggest solutions
  • Encourages everyone to participate
  • Proposes improvements, solutions and insight to encourage effective group working
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the task and scenario
  • To participate in the group discussion and research
Time Keeper
  • Coordinate and post workload and action planning documents online
  • Responsible for posting reminders / alerting team members of task schedules
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the task and scenario
  • To participate in the group discussion and research
  • Responsible for coordination of the all task drafts
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the task and scenario
  • To participate in the group discussion and research

Further Reading

Discussion as a Way of Teaching Brookfield, S and Preskill, S (1999), Buckingham : Open University Press, p. 91.

Using role-play activity with synchronous CMC Pilkington, R and Kumenek, P (2004) in ICT for Curriculum Enhancement, Monteith, M (ed.), Bristol : Intellect Books

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

New Challenges: Moving DL Content Online

This academic year (2011-12) we have been moving all our formally paper-based learning resources and activities from paper delivery to online delivery for the Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children with Visual Impairment distance learning programme.

Online content has colour coded pages depending on whether they are content, a personal/private Note Book Study Activity (NSA) or a Professional Activity Log (PAL) private between student and tutor. All pages use the College CSS that has inbuilt text enlargement and page colour scheme options to encourage accessibility.

Note Book Study Activity (NSA) example

Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) scenarios are often used to trigger and link learning to student’s professional roles.

Example EBL Scenario