Programme Session Details 2024

Strengthening the Playful Learning community

Corresponding Author: Jane Secker

All authors: Professor Susannnah Quinsee

Length: 90 minutes
Location: Outdoors


At last year’s Playful Learning conference we reported on some research we had undertaken at City, University of London to understand the experiences and attitudes of staff towards playful learning (Secker, 2023). We presented interim findings and ran a world café where we attempted to harness the hive mind of PL enthusiasts to understand how best to build a playful learning community. Play has many documented benefits to support student learning (Whitton and Langan, 2019). In our research we found most teachers used play to build student engagement and to help them learn a difficult or tricky subject. We also discovered that there were concerns about the perception of playful approaches and the need to collaborate with others to overcome some of the anixeties about introducing playful learning to adults.

This session is an opportunity to get an update on our research findings and developments at City since then. Play remains an important part of both of our teaching, including featuring heavily in a Leadership module and a Digital Literacies module delivered as part of City’s Masters in Academic Practice. We have also held a number of playful learning meet-ups and a games jam, as well as using playful techniques in other settings, such as strategy development, to showcase the benefit of using playful practice. In this session we will focus on the findings from our research around playful leadership (Schrier et al, 2023) and the support that staff need to be playful in their teaching. We will look at how creating a playful learning community needs playful leaders and multiple opportunities to engage colleagues in play (Walsh, 2022).

However additionally in this session we will share some of the playful learning ideas we use in our own teaching through a world café. You get to experience micro-play sessions as you move around the room trying out several games and activities that we have devised for different audiences. These include Lego 6 bricks, an open access game called The Publishing Trap and several other approaches.

References, web links and other resources:

Secker, J (2023) Playful Learning a place of Fun and Joy. Learning at City Blog. Available at:
Schrier, K., Zahradnik, A., & Shaenfield, D. (2023). Playful Approaches to Leadership Development: Three Innovative Uses of Games in the Classroom. Journal of Management Education, 10525629231215065.
Walsh, Andrew (2002). Playful Leadership: An Introduction and Manifesto. Available:
Whitton, Nicola and Langan, Mark (2019) ‘Fun and games in higher education : an analysis of UK student perspectives,.’, Teaching in higher education., 24 (8). pp. 1000-1013.